Reactivation Experience


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Henry B. Eyring

There is another temptation to be resisted. It is to yield to the despairing thought that it is too hard and too late to repent.

I knew a man once who could have thought that and given up. When he was 12 he was ordained a deacon. Some of his friends tempted him to begin to smoke. He began to feel uncomfortable in church. He left his little town, not finishing high school, to begin a life following construction jobs across the United States. He was a heavy-equipment operator. He married. They had children. The marriage ended in a bitter divorce. He lost his children. He lost an eye in an accident. He lived alone in boardinghouses. He lost everything he owned except what he could carry in a trunk.

One night, as he prepared to move yet again, he decided to lighten the load of that trunk. Beneath the junk of years, he found a book. He never knew how it got there. It was the Book of Mormon. He read it through, and the Spirit told him it was true. He knew then that all those years ago he had walked away from the true Church of Jesus Christ and from the happiness which could have been his.

Later, he was my more-than-70-year-old district missionary companion. I asked the people we were teaching, as I testified of the power of the Savior's Atonement, to look at him. He had been washed clean and given a new heart, and I knew they would see that in his face. I told the people that what they saw was evidence that the Atonement of Jesus Christ could wash away all the corrosive effects of sin.

That was the only time he ever rebuked me. He told me in the darkness outside the trailer where we had been teaching that I should have told the people that while God was able to give him a new heart, he had not been able to give him back his wife and his children and what he might have done for them. But he had not looked back in sorrow and regret for what might have been. He moved forward, lifted by faith, to what yet might be.

One day he told me that in a dream the night before, the sight in his blind eye was restored. He realized that the dream was a glimpse of a future day, walking among loving people in the light of a glorious resurrection. Tears of joy ran down the deeply lined face of that towering, raw-boned man. He spoke to me quietly, with a radiant smile. I don't remember what he said he saw, but I remember that his face shone with happy anticipation as he described the view. With the Lord's help and the miracle of that book in the bottom of a trunk, it had not for him been too late nor the way too hard.

Excerpt from "Do Not Delay", Henry B. Eyring, Oct. 1999 General Conference address