Monday, May 25, 2009

"I gave you my Son. Will you not give me yours?"

From a talk given by Elder Stephen Biddulph at BYU-H - July 2008:

In the spring of 1996, our son, Greg, returned from a mission in London South. Five of his best friends also returned at about the same time from their missions. They were choice young men who had lived righteous lives and had served their Lord faithfully. To celebrate the completion of their missions and their enduring friendship, five of them, including our son, spend a weekend at Bear Lake in Utah prior to going off to school. On their way home from Bear Lake, they were involved in a roll-over accident killing 3 of the boys and injuring two critically.

Sister Biddulph and I were in Los Angeles, California for business meetings when we received the news from our bishop in Utah. Ironically, the only two boys not clearly identified were our son, Greg, and his best friend, R.J. One of them was dead and the other near dead. The Highway Patrol had tentatively identified Greg as being deceased and R.J. critically injured. I could not hope for our son's life over that of R.J.'s because we loved R.J. like a son, and his parents were our close friends.

The two-hour flight back to Salt Lake City was reflective for both of us as we were each separately locked into our private thoughts and emotions as the jet engines pushed us toward whatever fate had dealt us. As it had been behind the sandbag wall in Vietnam, prayer came instinctively. I silently poured out my concerns to my Heavenly Father in prayer. But the Lord did not reveal to me whether our son was dead or alive. Rather, remarkable questions came to my mind in answer to my pleadings:

The first question that came was: "If I have taken your son, will you be angry with me?" I could not be angry with the Lord. I had promised to sacrifice all things. But Greg had been gone from us for 2 years and we looked to his future. We had so many hopes for him; for college, marriage, and children. Death took all of that away.

A second question came in response: "If your son is dead, as you say, do you believe that he will live again?" Yes. I knew that if he was dead that his spirit would live, and that he would be resurrected. I knew that as clearly as I had known I would live if the tank round had taken my life in Vietnam. But it was a hard thing to lose a child in death; perhaps more than I could bear.

A final question came: "I gave you my Son. Will you not give me yours?" And I knew that I would give to God whatever He asked, even my son. For I had made covenants to sacrifice and consecrate all to the Father, and Sister Biddulph and I had made the decision long before to always faithfully give to the Lord what He asked of us. "God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever would believe on him, the same would have eternal life." (John 3:16)

It was done then, I concluded. Greg was dead. Now, it was for us to willingly give him to the Lord. We decided that we would bury Greg in the East Lawn Cemetery on the east bench of the Wasatch Mountains in Provo, next to his grandfather. It was a beautiful, peaceful spot, overlooking Utah Valley and Utah Lake. We had two lots there, meant for Elaine and me. We had not anticipated its use for a child.

However, when we arrived in Salt Lake City we discovered that it was R.J. who had been killed and Greg was already undergoing 11 hours of surgery to try and save his life. One does not feel joy or relief in those circumstances, only a change of venue. We now focused our prayers for our son's survival and for the parents and families of the other boys who died or were injured.

The two surviving boys, Greg and Mike, were unconscious for days and while they slept, we attended funerals and buried their three best friends. When they awoke, everything in their lives had changed drastically. But neither of them ever questioned the Lord or became despondent. They accepted the accident with complete faith in the Resurrection, despite the deep, personal loss. God mercifully filled the void with eternal companions and children.

Elder Glenn Pace made this wise observation about the hard experiences of life: "Curse not the crucible into which you have been dipped. It is Divine and will ultimately sanctify you."

1 comment:

  1. Inspirational. Credit to the divine strength within us. I loved the part where he compared his instinctive reaction similar to being behind the sandbag in Vietnam. I have been behind my own sandbags a few times and relate to his description of instinctive. What a priviledge and blessing to have that.