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Editor’s Note: Our friend and longtime Meridian writer Larry Barkdull recently passed away. To remember and honor him this is one of a series of his past articles that we are republishing regularly.
Every gift that we receive from God reflects his personality, including his power, his awareness and his love. Sadly, some people explain away their gifts as strokes of good luck while other people overlook their gifts completely. Humble observers, on the other hand, attest to the continuous generosity of an unseen Giver who has often intervened in times of crisis when other options have failed. Gratitude for God’s gifts begins with awareness and willingness to acknowledge the Source. Of the countless times God has blessed our family with his gifts, here are two stories that demonstrate his loving character.
The Power of God
Falling off the Roof on Halloween Night
Some years ago, my son, Gavon and his friends, then teenagers, had tired of trick or treating. One of the boys was the son of my friend, Mike. His roof could be easily climbed and often was. It required little effort for a nimble 16-year-old boy to mount the fence, swing up a leg up and roll onto the roof.
Looking for more excitement that boring Halloween night, the boys had climbed to the peak of Mike ‘s roof and pondered the possibilities. Someone suggested that they rig a microphone to scare passing trick or treaters. There were no dissenters. The prank played out like this: target a victim below, scream into the microphone, and run to another side of the roof to hide. Their fun time went on for a long time.
The boys had just frightened another unsuspecting child and had raced to the far, dark side of the roof, when suddenly Gavon disappeared. His friends heard a hard thump twelve feet below. When I received a phone call from Mike’s dad, Ted, he only could say, “Gavon’s been hurt. It’s pretty bad.”
I arrived just as an ambulance was pulling up. My son was lying on his back, unconscious and groaning. When the paramedics shined a flashlight on him, I saw blood seeping from his ears. “He fell directly onto his head and right shoulder,” one of them said. I tried to reach out for him but was prevented. “He may have injured his neck or back,” they said.
Ted, anticipating my needing a friend, said, “I’ll go with you to the Emergency Room.”
At the hospital, doctors cut away Gavon’s shirt and began to work on him. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight. He was still bleeding from his ears. His face was swelling. His right collarbone had a large bump that appeared to be trying to protrude through the skin. I was told that it was broken badly.
“Does the bleeding from the ears mean head injury?” I asked.
“It’s the sign of concussion. It doesn’t look good.”
“What about his neck and back?”
“We’ve ordered a CAT scan.”
When the doctors left the room, I said to Ted, “I’m so afraid for my son. Will you help me give him a priesthood blessing?”
Ted is a man of great faith. Over the years he and I had been each other’s Home Teachers. We had given many blessings together. In other trying situations, I had seen him take his problems to the Lord with the perfect assurance that he would be heard and answered. On occasion, I had knelt with him and heard him pour out his heart in behalf of someone in need. This was to be another of those times. We stood on either side of my son’s bed and pled for a miracle of healing. Then we laid our hands on my son’s head and pronounced the blessing. When we finished, the doctors took Gavon to Radiology.
During that long night while we watched Gavon’s unconscious body being scanned, we talked of God, faith and past miracles. I didn’t know what would happen to my boy. Periodically I called home to discuss the situation with my wife, who was tending our little children. We tried to prepare ourselves for whatever news might come. Finally, a doctor came from a room and approached Ted and me with a handful of x-rays. His speech was clinical. He pointed out bones, growth plates and the obvious concussion.
Has the bleeding from the ears stopped?” I asked. “Is there any brain damage?”
“The bleeding has stopped and there is no apparent brain damage.”
“What about breaks? His back, his neck?”
“Not even his collar bone?” I asked in astonishment.
“Nothing. He will probably have a headache for a few days.”
Gavon woke up 24 hours later with the predicted headache, not remembering anything except standing on the edge of the dark roof. The bruising and swelling was gone within the week. Within a few days, he was back playing carefully with his friends.
The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him (Nahum 1:7)
The Love of God
Two months after my daughter, Katie, and her husband, Jason, were married, Jason was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. In an emergency operation, eighteen inches of his intestine were removed. From that point forward, Crohns became a third member of their marriage and the hospital became their second home.
Home. That word became foreign to them. During their first years of marriage, strangling medical debt dictated their residences and moves.
Now they had a baby girl. More poor health and meager finances forced them to move once again, this time in with family. The three of them crowded into two tiny bedrooms that Jason’s parents graciously provided in their house.
Later, when they thought that the Crohns was in remission, they decided that education was their only hope for normalcy. So they moved—again. This time to be students. Their excitement to finally be on their own was short-lived, however. Too soon, they discovered that the college program that they wanted required unethical practices of its students in exchange for grades. Jason and Katie had a choice to make: live their values or to leave school. They packed up and left.
When they returned to Jason’s parents’ home and the two cramped bedrooms, they felt defeated. Then Jason’s Crohns took a frightening and deep dive. Suddenly they had to face the difficult realization that his current health status would not allow him to maintain a full-time job. Katie would need to become the primary breadwinner and their prospects for affording a place of their own now seemed worse than ever. And, of course, the medical debts kept mounting.
They wanted to be self-sufficient; they wanted to be an independent family. They did not want to be reliant upon other people. So they prayed. They knew that no one could get them through this challenge except Heavenly Father.
Slowly, things began to change. Within a short period of time they received a government grant and an unexpectedly large tax return. Suddenly they could pay off their medical debts! Then Katie received a job offer; then a few months later a better one; and then a few months later a better one. But their living situation had not improved—two cramped bedrooms in their parents’ house.
One night Katie prayed again. She didn’t want to be ungrateful. She knew that one thing after another had been working out. She knew where their blessings were coming from. She hoped she wouldn’t be asking amiss.
For some time she had longed for and pictured in her mind a sweet little apartment that her family could live in—a modest place with some elbowroom, a yard with green grass, a safe neighborhood, a nice ward and a friend for her little girl…and it had to fit in their slender budget. By scrimping they might be able to come up with $650 a month for her dream place.
Unlikely. Impossible. These words had kept her from offering the prayer before. But this night she yearned for change, and she knew that she could not achieve it on her own. She humbly took her request to Heavenly Father. She imagined that it was too much to ask. But she asked anyway.
The next day, Lindsay, her sister called. Lindsay’s brother- and sister-in-law were just finishing building a new home, she said. It had a large, basement apartment. It had a huge green yard. It was in a nice part of town, and the ward was wonderful. A little girl, the same age as our daughter, lived next door. They were willing to rent the apartment for only $650 a month!
Suddenly what Katie had thought could never change changed. What she had imagined impossible was possible. When she first walked into her “dream apartment,” she said, she felt as though Someone had already been there. It was as though Someone had placed a little note on the door saying, Welcome home.
…the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth (Ex. 34:6).
May we ever be aware of our powerful, loving Father, who is ever aware of our needs and who showers us with his gifts.