PriesthoodBy David LeFlor Norberg
“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of Faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up….”
On a brisk February afternoon, the cold Canadian air burned our lungs as Elder Johnson and I hurried to our next teaching appointment. We shuffled hastily along in order not to be late for our next appointment. We were two houses away from our destination, when a young mother came running out of a nearby house to intercept us. “Are you the Mormon missionaries who are teaching in the area?” she asked breathlessly.
Somewhat caught off guard, and uncertain of her motives, I responded a little hesitantly, “Yes, we are.”
“I understand you boys have some kind of special power to heal the sick?” she queried.
I looked at my companion and saw my own confusion mirrored in his face. Assuming that the woman was referring to the Priesthood, I tried to clarify our authority so there would be no misunderstanding on her part. “I believe you’re talking about the Priesthood which we hold,” I said. “This Priesthood gives us the authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ, like the Apostles of old.”
“Will this….this Priesthood….heal sick people?” She asked more reverently now. For the first time, I noticed her tired eyes.
“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied. “But it also depends a lot upon your personal faith.”
She smiled weakly. “Would you please give my daughter one of your blessings? She’s been really sick, and isn’t able to keep anything in her stomach.” She beseeching eyes, she motioned us toward the door of her house. “My daughter’s just inside the house…please?”
Inside the tiny home the mother led us down a hallway to a darkened bedroom. The little girl lay upon her bed. Her blonde hair and pale skin were accented by a small lamp on the bed stand casting its glow over the thin form. I guessed she couldn’t have been more than nine or ten years old. Her big blue eyes lit up when she saw us enter the room. A brave smile crossed her parched cracked lips, as though she had been expecting us.
Her mother spoke to her in hushed tones, as she pressed her hand tenderly. She brushed an errant curl away from her eyes as the child sat up in bed. “These are the men I told you about, honey.” Her mother spoke to her tenderly. “They’re here to make you feel better.”
“Mother, can they really make me feel better?” The little girl’s eyes sparkled in anticipation as she spoke.
“Yes, dear…” her mother said, not sounding too convincing. She turned and looked at us, silently seeking some confirmation.
In a situation like this, I had learned to detach myself from personal doubts and concerns, and to allow the Spirit to guide me. I approached the girl’s side and asked her name.
“Terry Ann Davis,” she replied proudly. In spite of her bold spunk, however, I could see that the exertion was causing her frail little body to tremble. “Well, Miss Terry Ann Davis,” I said, giving her my best smile of assurance. “Do you know much about our church, or about the Priesthood blessing you would like us to give you?”
“No, I don’t think so,” she replied, looking with uncertainty toward her mother. “Will it hurt?”
“No sweetheart.” I responded reassuringly, as both my companion and I smiled at her again. I wanted to reassure her because she had sincerely captured our hearts. “Why don’t we let Elder Johnson take just a minute to explain it to you and your mother, before we give you this special blessing”?
Wide-eyed she softly said, “Okay.” Her mother continued to hold her hand as she sat next to her. Elder Johnson then took a minute to explain how and where we received this Priesthood in these modern times.
Afterwards, we both stood in silence as we gently placed our hands on her frail little head. Then, with the promptings of the Spirit, we sealed a Priesthood blessing upon her. In the name of Jesus Christ, we promised her that she would be made whole again. We felt assured that it was the wish of our Heavenly Father.
When we finished, there wasn’t a dry eye among us. We could feel the presence of the Holy Ghost and knew we had been guided by Him. We thanked them for the opportunity to spend those few minutes with them, and as we left the room, we told Terry Ann we would check on her next week when we were back in the area.
When Mrs. Davis walked us to the door, she had a puzzled look upon her face, but didn’t say anything about it as she sent us on our way.
Later that week, I was transferred to a new area. I didn’t find out how things went with the little girl and her mother until almost a month later, when I ran into Elder Johnson at a zone conference.
“How are Terry Davis and her mother doing?” I asked, hoping to hear that they were accepting the gospel.
Elder Johnson smiled excitedly. “We’re teaching the whole family,” he answered. “And they’re doing great!” Then, thinking for a moment, he spoke softly. “When we gave Terry Ann the blessing, did you know what was wrong with her?”
Feeling a little embarrassed, I stumbled around and said, “Well no, I never thought to ask….I just assumed that it was the flu.”
Elder Johnson smiled. “It wasn’t. Let me tell you what happened when my new companion and I went back.”
“When we returned that following week, the mother greeted us pretty much the same way, but this time she was crying. When we asked her what was wrong, she told us ‘Nothing,’ that they were tears of joy, and that her daughter was now perfectly healthy. That didn’t come as a shock to us, but then she said, ‘No, you don’t understand. My daughter was dying of Leukemia!’ Stunned, we continued to listen. ‘When I took her to the doctor yesterday, he was shocked. He tested her again and again, and finally said it was a miracle. They couldn’t find a trace of the disease left within her body!’”
As Elder Johnson related the story to me, I felt a tingling sensation run down my back, followed by a peaceful, warm feeling. As the tears welled up in my eyes, I realized just what a blessing it was to be a Priesthood holder, and to be a part of the Gospel. Unfortunately, it was not enough to prepare me for what was to come some four years later.
As I slowly walked out of the high council room, I could hear the words still ringing in my head. “With great sadness in our hearts….yet with love for you, and in the spirit of love…we find it necessary to excommunicate you from the Church.” Remorse slowly overwhelmed me. I fully realized what great blessing had just been taken from me at the most inopportune time of my life. Especially now, facing some time in prison for bank fraud, and ten more years after that on parole. I knew I couldn’t apply for membership again until my parole was completed. I felt utterly alone, having to face the world without the constant companion of the Holy Ghost and the blessings of the Holy Priesthood. I was alone because of the greed for money and worldly things. Now nothing seemed worth this price to pay.
I felt additional pain years later, when my wife was very sick, along with our young boys. It became my job to get up every two hours to make sure they got their medicine. Our youngest son ran a 105 degree temperature in the wee hours of the morning. I gave him aspirin, and ice baths, but couldn’t get his temperature to drop. Finally at 3 a.m., we decided to take him to the hospital. But before we left home, my wife suggested that our son receive a Priesthood blessing.
The pain that I felt and had managed to push deep down inside me over the years suddenly came flooding over me. I couldn’t do my patriarchal duty, because I had put greed over my own spiritual needs. My family was suffering because of my foolishness.
My wife went upstairs to get ready, and I fell to my knees in anguish asking Father for guidance. No sooner had I finished my prayer than I was compelled to call my neighbor Kevin, from across the street, as well as my other neighbor Vainga. Cheerfully, both these brothers came over and gave Priesthood blessings to my wife and sons. Three hours later at the hospital, my son’s fever broke, and he was on his way to recovery. I witnessed another miracle before my very own eyes.
It is such a great honor to hold the Priesthood. Because of my choices, I haven’t been able to bless any of my sons with a name and a blessing at their births. Not only have I deprived myself of these blessings, but I have deprived my family from receiving them as well.
Many years ago, I watched as my father led my oldest son into the waters of baptism. I felt the loss of this privilege, as my oldest son became a member of the Church. As he stood smiling at me from the waters of baptism, tears rolled down my cheeks. My son looked at me with somewhat of a confused expression. I remember leaving as soon as the baptism was over. I had finally lost control of my emotions, and I lost them again, as my second son was baptized by my father-in-law. These experiences forced me to realize that I had not only failed my family. I also had failed my Father in Heaven. When my third son was baptized, I left early as the pain was too intense to endure. I have watched all three of my sons receive the Priesthood at my father’s hand when I was still not able to hold that sacred calling. I have failed in my patriarchal duties as a father and Priesthood holder because of my actions.
A while back, I met a business associate, who later became a friend and a partner. On one particular business trip to Las Vegas, we sat at our restaurant table waiting for our dinner to be served. The hostess came by and asked if we wanted drinks. I refused, but he asked for “Vodka on the rocks.” I was somewhat taken aback, because I knew he was an active elder in his ward. He was even supporting a son on a mission, and had a daughter who was about to be married in the temple. I’m sure he didn’t think that I would care about his choices; especially knowing what my own church standing was.
As I watched him drink his drink, my heart went out to him in sorrow. I wondered if he fully realized what a great gift he had been given, and how I would have traded places with him in a minute. To him, it seemed, the Church was just a social standing. To me….it was a life I prayed for, and yearned for again. He had within his power the ability to heal the sick, or even to raise the dead. With this same power he could even put worlds into orbit with just a command.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at him, wishing he could feel even a small portion of the pain I had gone through. I had taken something so very important for granted, and now that precious gift was gone from my life. How I’ve longed to have it back again. I have always known when the Lord felt the time was right I would be given that gift once again, but not until then. And only then will I have earned that right to be a worthy Priesthood Bearer to act in His Name.
Authors Note: I wrote this story many years ago, and I choose to leave the ending as it is, because of the feelings and impact it has had upon my life of not being able to be a worthy Priesthood holder. It is a great gift, and a blessing that one fully understands when in tune with the Spirit, or taken from them. I have since had my Priesthood Blessings restored to me, and it was a blessing that human words will never be able to express to another; but it is a gift I will cherish forever. Please feel the heartache, and pain I endured without this great blessing, and be thankful everyday for it in your life... because nothing was worth being without the Holy Priesthood in mine. It is a gift to always honor, cherish, and live worthy of. If for some reason you have lost it, do what needs to be done in your life to earn it back, and you too will understand this gift of the Priesthood even greater, especially when it's returned to you. D.L. Norberg 5/09
(This story is based on a true incident from the author’s life).
All names have been changed to protect privacy.
© Copyright 2014. David LeFlor Norberg. All Rights Reserved. http://www.ldsshortstories.com