Before they call, I will answer Searching the Scriptures Series

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Before they call I will answer

“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24)

“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer.” Cowles suggests: “A more precise translation of this verse is, ‘And it shall be that they shall not yet have called, and I will answer; they shall be yet speaking, and I will hear.’”

Rawlinson beautifully says: “God is always ‘more ready to hear than we to pray.’ In the ‘new Jerusalem’ he will be prompt to answer his people’s prayers almost before they are uttered. It is involved in this, as Delitzsch notes, that the will of the people shall be in harmony with the will of Jehovah, and that their prayers will therefore be acceptable prayers.”

And while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Kay has: “yet speaking] Literally so in Daniel’s case (Daniel 9:20–23).

Yosemite

I had a similar experience in the summer of 1991, just after I was called to be a seminary teacher. Linda & I and Brother Gary McDaniel took my seminary class up to Yosemite, before the start of the school year. As we were walking up the trail Brother McDaniel was overcome by an insulin shock and we almost lost him, were it not by the influence of the Lord.

Before the start of classes, we took my seminary students up to Nevada Falls in Yosemite National Park.

A number of events all combined at exactly the right moment, so his life could be spared. Brother McDaniel, earlier in the hike, shared with Linda that he was a diabetic. While I normally insist that an adult leader stay in front, one in the back, and in this case one in the middle, at the instant that this happened all three adults came together for an instant.

Brother McDaniel’s eyes started rolling and next thing we knew he fainted and dropped to the ground. In an instant, Linda was administering sugar to him via drops of soda from Brother McDaniel’s backpack (by ‘mistake,’ he had miraculously packed a regular soda along with a sugar free one).

Just as quickly, I pulled out my consecrated oil and began to administer to him. Through the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood I blessed a man who was closer to death than to life, as he was pale white, cold and clammy. As I was performing this ordinance, I was cold with fear. I was not far along into the blessing, truly while I was yet speaking, I heard people coming down the trail. Having pronounced the essential parts of the blessing, I closed as I did not want to make a mockery of the Priesthood in front of others.

It turned out to be a French doctor and his wife. They encouraged Linda to continue to feed Gary McDaniel more sugar, which had burnt up through the strenuous hike. Brother Gary came to, and with the French physician and Linda’s help, went back to the bottom.

I took the rest of the seminary class up to Nevada Falls, once it was clear that he would be totally well. Later, Brother McDaniel bore his testimony that he could hear the words of the blessing as he was administered to.

San Clemente

In 1993, my sister-in-law’s family and ours went camping by the beach in San Clemente, southern California. Linda and Donna had to go shopping and left Steve and me in charge of the children. ‘Be careful of the ocean,’ Linda warned. I acknowledged Linda’s request. But internally I reacted, much like children often do when they are told to be careful, by brushing away any concerns.

Steve stayed out in the beach with the younger children while I went in with my boys, David and Miguel, and with Bryce, Donna’s eldest son. We had much fun diving under the incoming waves and little by little we got braver. Soon we could no longer touch bottom, but it did not matter as swimming in the ocean is so much easier, with the salt helping one stay afloat.

At one point I told the boys it would be a good idea to turn around and swim back. Bryce asked, “What for?” He kept swimming away from the beach. David soon warned me that Miguel was experiencing trouble. I could not see Miguel, as I am so blind without glasses; I had to lean on David’s vision to see what was going on.

A great fear that Miguel or David could drown overcame me.  But the rip tide was separating us from the beach and every effort to swim back was quite unproductive. (I later found out that one should not try swimming directly against a rip tide, but rather, swim with it and diagonally, until it loses its strength.)

What would I tell my wife or my sister in law if one, or all, of the children that they entrusted to me perished?  How foolish I had been. Because I was worrying about them I did not pay attention to my surroundings and a large wave fell upon me pushing me down into the water where it was dark and I had to really battle to make it out on time to catch a breath.

I was exhausted and beginning to think I would perish in the ocean.

I only had time to get a little air when the same thing happened again. I was exhausted and beginning to think I would perish in the ocean. I only cared for the life of the children. I felt so impotent now; I had put their lives in danger and was feeling the guilt and bitterness of my actions. How often do we consider how our physical or spiritual course might affect those we love?

After receiving the great gift of a testimony of the Gospel of Christ we have a responsibility to hold on to the iron rod and endure to the end. Else, as sometimes happens, people occasionally take a vacation from the truths and values they cherish. But when they come back—assuming they have not drowned or died first—there may be people in their lives who could have grown strong in the gospel but did not. Those hurt through this spiritual tragedy are often the most cherished: spouse and children. It is my most ardent desire and prayer that I may live righteously; that I may endure to the end. But let me continue with my awful predicament.

The ocean was furious. I was so worried about my sons that I cared about little else. It was evident we had drifted quite a ways out as people in the beach seemed so small. I felt quite dumb asking for assistance, but the moment came, when I thought my boys or I would die, and with all my strength I shouted “Help!”

What a joke, with the sound of the waves no one could hear me. Suddenly, I saw a lifesaver, a man swimming towards me with a determined look in his eye. It is not possible he could have heard my plea for help as he was there in an instant. As he approached, I begged him to take care of Miguel and not worry about me. Instead, he tackled me with both hands.

The next moment we both found ourselves in the deep of the ocean, pushed down by the next wave. I thought this man would drown me. I did not want to expend my energy in trying to get rid of this lifeguard as I did not wish to lose energy and oxygen.  Nor did I want him to fight me. When it was clear I would not try and drown him, and we had gone as deep as it seemed we would go, I had to bring both of us back to the surface with my hands and legs while he held on to me. When we got to the surface the lifeguard gave me the lifesaver and I thanked him a thousand times for his help. Without the help of this young man I believe I would have perished in the ocean because of my lack of experience.

Meanwhile, I had no hint of what could have happened to David, Miguel or Bryce. Concern for the children was the uppermost in my mind. As it turned out, David and another lifeguard had helped Miguel, who was closer to the beach. Miguel later told me that he was tired of trying to get oxygen and that he spent more time under the ocean that on the surface. He explained that somehow he was able to get a breath of air under the water (and if I recall properly, I had understood him to say that an angel helped him breath).

A third lifeguard helped Bryce, who was not at all concerned with any of this and only panicked when he was informed that he was swimming over a dangerous submerged rock that had sucked people in. It appears we were all going in the direction of this rock when it occurred to me that we should turn back.

I felt much joy to know all were safe, but also much agony to sense that I almost lost my sons or my nephew, and that it would have been my fault. How could I have ever faced Linda and told her how I had mishandled my stewardship? How would I have ever faced myself? I was quite depressed for about a day until several scriptures helped me think about this in a different way. One of them was Isaiah 65:24, ‘And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.’

The lifeguard who helped me explained that even before we knew we were in trouble, they had called for additional help from a coastguard boat. And even before that, it is clear that God knew we were in trouble and sent help even before we thought to pray.

After that, we set some very specific rules: if the lifeguard left his or her post, we would get out of the water immediately; if we drifted past a mark we had set, we would get out of the water and walk back to the other side before we would reenter. Likewise, the Lord has given us commandments and we will be spiritually safe if we stay within the boundaries He has given us. God is continually aware of us and sends angels to minister to us even before we realize we are in trouble. Truly, before we call, the Lord will answer. We need not wait for the Millennium for this to happen.

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