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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.
In every miracle, God reveals something of His character and attributes. Miracles are inexplicable by the laws of nature. We receivers cannot duplicate them. Large or small, the miracles of God attest to his nearness and his interest in our welfare. From time to time we glimpse him delivering unexpected bouquets of affection, those almost anonymous offerings that communicate, “I am aware. I am near. I love you.”
The miracles of God often arrive when extraordinary help is needed. Miracles provide us evidence of the existence of God and illustrate his active involvement in our lives. God’s miracles provide hope, are rewards for and anchor faith, and demonstrate that our prayers are heard and answers come. Here is a miracles story that reveals the foreknowledge of God.
The Rusty Bucket of Rainwater
My mother was a woman of great faith. It was Mother’s practice to never let a day go by without praying to God for his watchful care. When I was a small child growing up in Monroe Louisiana, Mother had a dream one night that she was driving along a country road with my sister and me playing in the back seat of the car.
En route, my mother suddenly glanced in the rearview mirror and saw smoke and flames shooting from the trunk area. Quickly, she pulled to the side of the road, jumped out, and began searching for something to douse the flames. In a nearby gully, she spotted a rusty bucket filled with rainwater. Grabbing it, she ran back to the car and emptied the bucket on the fire.
A strange dream, my mother thought as she awoke. And she let it go at that.
The next morning, Mother piled my sister and me into the car for a sixty-mile trip to attend Sacrament Meeting. About halfway there, on an infrequently traveled road, she was suddenly startled to see flames and smoke rising from the trunk of the car. My sister and I were frightened, but because of her dream Mother knew what to do.
Pulling over to the side of the road, she quickly got out, ran about ten yards to a nearby gully, located a rusty bucket of rainwater, and extinguished the fire. Then, catching her breath and offering a simple prayer of gratitude, she settled back in the car and drove to church.
Becoming Acquainted with and Learning to Trust God
People who receive miracles from God often consider their experiences as holy ground whereon they become acquainted with the Giver. Diverse and intimately personal, gifts are woven from a common loom, summoning within their owners deep confidence in their Father in Heaven. Placing hope in the Giver of gifts proves not to be a vain effort after all.
Sometimes receivers of miracles experience miraculous intervention, and other times miracles come as quiet love notes. In either case, those who receive the miracles experience an increase of faith so that when they encounter difficulty again, they are better equipped to once more appeal to a loving Father who has the ability to help, is indeed aware, and cares enough to help. Receivers of miracles believe that their hope is anchored to something substantial. Simply put, they believe they are not alone.
This is not to say that there is an equation for God’s intervention: A+B=C. Our definition of deliverance is seldom God’s definition. We can dictate neither timelines nor terms. Nevertheless, we can be absolutely confident that our every prayer is heard and counts, and that somewhere in the process of working through, a divine encounter will happen. A son in Utah recounts:
When Mother was dying of cancer, she asked for a blessing to know the will of the Lord. I agreed to give the blessing, but I knew it would be the hardest of my life. Not that it would be harder for the Lord. I knew that he could heal cancer as easily as a cold. But for me, I had to prepare. I dared not approach this blessing casually.
Over the next few days, I attended the temple and prayed and humbled myself before the Lord. I read the scriptures about miraculous manifestations of power and healing. I counseled with wise men that had spent a lifetime exercising their priesthood righteously. Then I began to fast. I would not eat until the blessing was given. Mother lived six hours away.
As I drove through the night, I prayed continuously. I attempted to remove all doubt from my mind. I knew that God could heal Mother; I knew that the priesthood was the power; I knew that the ordinance of anointing and sealing had been revealed for this very purpose. I had come to that point of confidence and clarity. I pushed aside the temptation to craft words and plan the blessing. I had no desire to be eloquent or clever. I only wanted to plainly state what would be dictated by the inspiration of the Spirit—and remarkably, I now felt fully prepared to pronounce the promise of healing and witness a miracle.
I will not recount my reaction to stepping into Mother’s room and witnessing her frail, weakened body. My emotions were so tender. I loved my mother. How I longed for divine permission to say the words of healing. Our family knelt in prayer. We pled for a miracle. I was sure it would come.
At the moment I laid my hands upon my mother’s head, the Spirit said, “No.”
I wasn’t prepared for the answer. I felt Mother relax and concede under my hands. The miracle followed–sweet words of comfort and peace, every word dictated by a loving influence that knew her and understood her pain. Mom was going home.
Miracles Build Faith in God
In the Lectures on Faith, the Prophet Joseph Smith laid out the fundamentals of our achieving faith in God. Imperative in that process is our having a correct idea of God’s perfect attributes of character, including power, knowledge and love. Hope and faith in God turn on the belief that he possesses these and other attributes in perfection.
Otherwise, what’s the use in petitioning God at all?
In times of urgency, we hope that God has the power to help, we hope that he is aware of us, and we hope that he loves us enough to rush to our rescue. We reach out to God and plead for his miracles because we believe that he has both the ability and the disposition to grant them. In the end, perhaps there is no better way to know him. Here is a story that reveals the power of God.
Falling off the Roof on Halloween Night
My son, Jon and his friends, then teenagers, had tired of trick or treating years earlier. One of the boys was the son of my friend, Lee. His roof could be easily climbed and often was by his children. It required little effort for a nimble 16-year-old to mount the fence and put a leg up and roll onto the roof.
Looking for more excitement that boring Halloween night, the boys climbed to the peak of Lee’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, scream into the microphone, and run to another side of the roof to hide.
The fun times went long and well. The boys had just frightened another unsuspecting child and had raced to the far, dark side of the roof, when suddenly Jon disappeared. His friends heard a hard thump about twelve feet below.
When I received a phone call from Lee, he only could say, “Jon’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,” I was told.
Lee, anticipating my needing a friend, said, “I’ll go with you to the Emergency Room.”
At the hospital, nothing could have prepared me for the sight as doctors cut away Jon’s shirt. He was still bleeding from his ears. His face was swelling. His right collarbone had a large bump trying to protrude through the skin and I was told that it was broken badly.
“Does the bleeding mean a 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 Lee, “I’m so afraid for Jon. Will you help me give him a priesthood blessing?”
Lee is a man of great faith. My request was not uncomfortable. Over the years he and I had been each other’s home teachers and 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. This was to be another of those times. We stood on either side of Jon’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 Jon to Radiology.
During that long night while we watched Jon’s unconscious body being scanned, we talked of God, faith and past miracles. I didn’t know what would happen. 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 Lee and me with a handful of x-rays. His speech was very 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?”
“All stopped and no damage.”
“What about breaks? His back, his neck?”
“Not even his collar bone?” I asked astonished.
“Nothing. He will probably have a headache for a few days.”
Jon woke up 24 hours later with the predicted headache, not remembering anything expect standing on the edge of the dark roof. His bruising was gone within a few days and he was back playing carefully with his friends.
The miracles of God are gifts. Gifts, by definition, are pure, voluntary offerings of love, indisputable evidence of the Giver’s affection. A gift cannot be earned; it is freely imparted with no expectation of repayment. Furthermore, inherent in the gift is the personality of the Giver. The gifts of God, for example, reveal his perfect attributes of character—his power, his awareness, his love—upon which believers rely and upon which their faith pivots.
Here is a story that reveals God’s love.
For The First Time, I Saw a Bird
I was born with partial vision that isn’t correctable, but I have never let my disability stop me from enjoying life. I am married; I have six beautiful children; I acquired a college education, and I have participated in many events that others thought impossible. However, I have always wanted to be able to see like others to more fully enjoy the world. I have dreamed about how it would change my life and how amazing it would be.
One of God’s creations that I have had difficulty fully enjoying is beautiful birds in the wild. I have seen them on television, movies and books, but I have seen very little of their beauty in real life. I perceive their figures moving from one tree or phone line to another against a bright sky, but they only appear as small black objects against a bright backdrop. I hear their beautiful music, but I cannot see their color and their grace. To me they are just quick, black flittering objects moving through the bright sky.
On one occasion, our family had the opportunity to go to Rainier National Park in the autumn time. The leaves were falling, the air was crisp and clear, the sun was bright, and the park was virtually deserted. When we stopped for a rest, my wife took our children to the restroom and I sat down on a picnic bench. Once again I heard what I could not see: birds singing in the tall pines. I looked up and saw small black objects move from tree to tree. Wishing I could see their beauty, I prayed to God, “Please heal my vision and allow me to see these glorious creations.”
What happened next was a miracle. As I was saying the words of my prayer, a beautiful bird landed on my hand directly in front of my face. It was not more than six inches away, exactly where my vision was best. For the first time in my life I could see a bird! It looked at me and I looked at it. The bird turned around and let me enjoy its full loveliness. I continued my prayer and thanked God for this opportunity, and as I did many more birds of all varieties landed on my table.
Then I prayed that I might share this experience with my family. As they returned, they saw what was happening and sat down quietly at the table. The birds were not frightened, but remained. We all played with birds until it was time to leave. I have always thanked God for his hearing my prayer and experiencing this great outpouring of his love.
It is upon our own personal holy ground that we add stories of our receiving God’s miracles to these. It is within our individual sacred space that we become acquainted with Someone who hears, who knows us, who has the ability to help, and who loves us enough to shower us with his gifts.