Episode 3. February 14, 2016. This is a story of how the spirit of the Lord works with each of us to bless the lives of Heavenly Father’s children who have lost their way. In many ways, this is a story of rescue, where the end is not yet written….
On Christmas Eve, 2001 I was helping a member of our ward split some wood. For the sake of this pod cast, I will call him Rick. I had rented a log splitter and had finished splitting my logs, so brought the equipment to Rick’s house to split some wood for him. He depended on a wood-burning stove for heat during the winter. Because the next day our family was flying to Idaho for Christmas, I was in a hurry and in that haste I failed to pull my gloved hand away from the top of the log before, with my other hand, I pulled the level that split the log and unfortunately my thumb with it. Ouch. Our ward Relief Society president had just stopped by to drop off some Christmas goodies to this good man and his children. She ended up serving as the driver to take me to the emergency room. I am happy to say that they were able to sew my thumb back together, we still made the flight to Idaho the next day and Rick finished splitting his logs and was kind enough to return the splitter to the rental company.
Years later I began thinking about this same man – looking back, it was undoubtedly a prompting of the spirit to go and find him. I had not seen him in years and wondered what had happened. The ward boundaries had changed and we were no longer in the same ward. I asked around a bit and concluded from the answers I received that indeed no one had seen him in years and even though his records were still in our stake, it was likely that he no longer lived in where he had previously and it would be difficult to find him. I told myself I had done my due diligence and managed to put thoughts of him out of my head.
It was in early November of 2012, that I again felt the spirit whisper to me that I needed to go find this brother. So with a renewed desire to be obedient, I drove to that same house where he lived that day when we were splitting wood (and a thumb) knocked on his door, and when no one came I felt impressed to leave a note asking him to call me. I heard nothing.
A week or so later, the spirit again told me to go out again to this same home. Again I went with the same result. The house looked lived in, but I could see into the windows and there did not appear to be anyone there. Again I left a note with my phone number asking him to call me. Again, nothing happened.
The day before Thanksgiving as I was praying that morning, the Spirit again told me to go see him. I got dressed and immediately drove out again to the home. This time there were two little dogs on a tie line so I was pretty sure someone was there, but I knocked and knocked and no one came. I left a note for the third time, inviting him to come and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with us the next day. Still nothing.
During the Christmas break as I was praying about what the Lord would have me do next in regards to this man, the spirit whispered to me to write him a letter. I had been studying about the pre-mortal existence and that day the Spirit whispered to me that he had been a mighty and powerful spirit in pre-mortality and that one of the reasons that he has had such a tough life is because Satan has worked doubly hard to keep him from being a powerful spirit here. So again, with a desire to be obedient, I wrote the letter, again gave him my cell phone number and asked him to call me. Again, I heard nothing. But interestingly after that, the Spirit seemed to stop urging me to try and contact him even though I prayed to know what the Lord would have me do next.
Another month went by and then, on the morning of (Jan 25th) I woke up and noticed I had missed a call from a number I did not recognize. That is not so unusual as a wrong number during the night occurs from time to time, but what was unusual was that the caller had left a message. When I listened to the message, this is what I heard. “Tom Kunz, this is Brother BLANK. I need your service, I need your thumb again. Please call me as soon as possible, probably in the morning when the switchboard opens”… and then he left the number where he could be reached.
After finishing a few work calls Friday morning, I called the number around 8:30 am and he answered it. Turns out he was in the VA hospital down in the Medical Center. He had had a massive heart attack on Jan 19th, the prior Saturday and was calling about getting a blessing. He said he wasn’t sure if he was worthy of a blessing or not, but that he would like one. He had reminded me of an experience where a friend and I had given him a blessing over 10 years ago for a lump near the top of his rib cage that had miraculously disappeared right before he was to be wheeled in for surgery. He was hoping for another miracle. I assured him that he was a beloved son of God and that he was worthy of a blessing and that I would find someone and come down and see him. This was a man whose heart had been softened. He told me that every time I had come to his home that he had been there but was in a back room with the TV on and could not hear the knocking. Each time I left a note, his son, when he arrived home brought it to him, but that he did not want to talk to me. In fact, he told me that I was the last person he wanted to talk to. You see I had served as his Bishop right before he became less active. After his heart attack on the 19th, It took him a few days to soften his heart, and on Thursday (the 24th) he explained to me that he finally told Satan to get out of his room and then he told his now grown daughter to go to his house and find my phone number so he could call me. He finally got the number about 11:30 pm and he called me at 11:57 pm
Fortunately I had a light morning of work that day and so I called a few men until I found a member of our high priests group that could go down with me. So we drove down to the VA hospital and gave him a blessing. It was a marvelous experience. As we left he told me that he loved me, and I told him that I loved him too and that I would do anything for him to help him.
This was three years ago and the end of this story remains unwritten. He ended up getting a stint rather than bypass surgery and has recovered nicely. In 2014 the ward boundaries were again redefined and this good man came back into our ward and I was assigned as his hometeacher. We have spent many hours together in conversation. I have put his name in the temple nearly every single week since early 2013. The day before we moved to the Philippines, I was released from my stake calling and this good friend came to stake conference that day as a show of support. While we were home for Christmas in 2015, his new hometeacher felt inspired to call and invite him to the Christmas dinner right before the event….and he came. This is a journey. Since the day I had a glimpse of his premortal greatness I have felt the love Heavenly Father has for this man and I have felt the call to help him come back.
This story has been so meaningful because it has reinforced to me that the Lord truly loves this good man. The Spirit had been working with me for 3 months in advance of this heart attack. The Lord has been trying to soften his heart a little at a time, and then finally sent him a big wake up call. It has been humbling to see the Lord’s hand so directly in my life…and his. How grateful I am for the Spirit of the Lord and the impact it has in all of our lives.