My Dying Friend Believes in the Worth of Souls

My Dying Friend Believes in the Worth of Souls September 10, 2018

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.

And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.

And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!

Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.

And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

I listened to the Seminary lesson for Doctrine and Covenants 18 while driving to visit a friend on the North Shore this morning.  My friend is dying.

Her Worth Is Great in His Sight

I parked across the road from his house.  A neighbor who was trimming trees quickly approached me and asked how he was doing.  I’d seen him three days earlier and mentioned that he’d appeared tired and frail, but still had his gigantic personality and wits about him. She’d wanted to visit, but hadn’t—like most of us when we don’t want to be in the way, but feel drawn to do something because we love a person.

With “the worth of souls is great” ringing in my ear, she told me two memories she had of our friend. She’d been his neighbor for years.  She said her other neighbor became annoyed because her trees had breached his property line. She approached our friend saying she would take action with the trees over his fence. She said, “He said to me, my fence is your fence.” She felt such a difference in the encounters, that he valued her.

Her worth was great in his sight.

Their Worth Is Great in His Sight

With emotion, she said she would never forget a speech our friend gave to a high school auditorium packed with students. She attended as a teacher.

Our friend’s son and some of his friends were drinking and driving.  The driver, Gordon, wrecked the vehicle and our friend’s son died in the accident.

Our friend stood in front of the students and acknowledged his son’s choices and death. Then he said, “Gordon will be carrying the burden of this accident his entire life.  We should not add to that burden in any way. Go and show him love.”

The story gave me chills. The neighbor felt astounded that a grieving parent could be so forgiving so quickly and ask others to love and forgive Gordon.

The neighbor stood silently for a moment, reliving the memory.

While I hadn’t heard the high school speech story, I’d heard the story of the son’s death.  My friend spoke of this son often and with great emotion.

The worth of others—his son, Gordon, the other students and teachers—was great in his sight.

I thanked the neighbor for sharing her memories with me. I went to visit my friend.

My Worth Is Great in His Sight

As I entered the room, his booming, “Well, hello there!” greeted me. He told me he loved me a dozen times.  He told his children tending to him that I was special.  He asked when I could come visit again.

This love came interspersed with news of a horrible night of medical issues and ongoing cancer complications.  He smiled at me as his son fed him a papaya.  He asked about my welfare as, with great effort, he resituated himself on his hospital bed. He looked more frail and weak than during my previous visit, but he promised he’d stronger the next time I visited and committed me to a next visit.

In the midst of my friend’s great personal adversity, my worth was great in his sight.

His Worth Is Great in My Sight

And his worth is great in my sight.

He epitomized this scripture to me.  Over a lifetime, my friend manifested his belief in a Savior who ransomed mankind. Because of that knowledge, my friend saw individuals as redeemed.

Isn’t that amazing? Through my flaws and weaknesses, my friend saw my divine identity.  I felt that acknowledgment from the first time we met.

It’s one thing to say you believe that souls have worth and are bought with a price.  It’s a totally different thing to believe and live as if souls are redeemed.

Because he believed in me, I wanted to merit that belief.  He didn’t have to call out my sins.  He called out my strengths which led me to strengthen character weaknesses.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen the impact of my friend’s labor.  Even a brief encounter with him builds people’s faith in themselves.  No one who has encountered him can say his name without smiling.

I wanted to see people through his sight, through the Lord’s sight.  He taught me of the possibility.  I felt the possibility.  I’m working for that sight.

My friend has labored all his days in reminding souls who they are and whose they are—because all of our souls are of great worth to him.

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  • Desirée Bushman Johnson

    How can I gain that kind of Charity? I pray for it. Can you imagine how different life would be if we all had it? Maybe like the city of Enoch or the Nephites right after Christ’s visit. Guess it starts with me.

  • Delisa Hargrove

    I imagine that world. And it’s glorious!! And until that day, I love the world we have.