Miracles happen all around us—small and large—they occur in our midst, and we frequently hear of them if we look for them. I want to tell you about a lesson in this light I learned as a boy.
The evenings in Castle Valley were comfortable and beautiful. As the heat of the day diminished, the shadows across the valley floor grew taller and longer. Soon, only the majestic, rock cliffs were tall enough to catch the final rays of sunlight. The red sandstone cliffs burned brightly as the sun sank beneath the far off horizon.
With the cool of the evening and the eminent darkness approaching, the fireflies would begin to appear. What a remarkable sight to behold! When we would look across the creek bed, thousands of blinking lights made by the fireflies would fill the basin carved by the creek, just like a passing milky way of stars. The fireflies were awe-inspiring and, like nature’s little candles, would wander up into our fields at night and share their beauty with us all.
Many of the experiences we had in Castle Valley were foreign to us “city folk” and some would qualify as amazing. Take for instance the ordeal when our pig Petunia was nearing the time to deliver her litter. While I was feeding her one evening, I noticed she was acting unusually anxious. We tried to help make her comfortable by spreading straw in her pen and preparing for the inevitable delivery. She labored and strained and eventually delivered one pig, but we couldn’t believe that was all.
She continued to exert and appeared uncomfortable, but no more pigs were delivered for what seemed to me an awfully long time. We could see that something was wrong. So we went to the book we used to look for answers to questions we could not resolve on our own.
We read that a pig usually has a litter of 8-10 or more and that there should not be an extended length of time between the birth of the baby pigs. This, and the fact that she acted like she was trying to deliver more pigs, persuaded us to investigate further. The book described a situation where one of the baby pigs may die and obstruct the birth canal so that the others cannot be born.
To resolve this problem, it indicated that a person could wash his arm and reach up and into the birth canal to dislodge the obstruction. Dad was selected by default to attempt this task. Not knowing quite what to expect, he followed the instructions that we had read in the book, and low and behold, he felt a blockage inside the birth canal.
He carefully grasped the object and pulled it to free the passage for the remaining pigs. It was a partially formed baby pig, and as soon as Dad had successfully removed it from obstructing the birth canal, Petunia resumed giving birth. She delivered ten more pigs!
As I contemplate on this experience, I realize we can learn a lot more from this story than initially meets the eye.
First, I think how as a young man I thought my dad could do anything. Though this experience was frightening for all of us, my father and mother moved forward boldly and didn’t let the fear of the situation overcome them. I imagine my father was terrified having never attempted such a task like this in his life. But I never felt that from him.
Instead, he showed faith and courage, and this is just one example of many experiences. When he felt helpless and inferior to the task at hand, he put his trust in God. And that was something we all learned from him.
Second, this is just one example of how the Lord smiled down on us in His wisdom and helped us to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. We spent many years in the valley working on projects I never anticipated, facing obstacles for which I felt unprepared. But Mom and Dad were always faithful and bravely moved forward despite their limited knowledge of farming.
My nephew, Ryan, relates an experience when he was helping “Grandpa” complete some roofing on our home in Castle Valley. He shares his admiration then tells about the following experience regarding a time he worked with Grandpa completing the metal roofing on our home. Ryan states “I will never forget the lessons you taught me about the gospel, such as the time I climbed on the roof to find you praying for help with a problem you were having with laying the new shingles.”
This was typical of my dad. I particularly like this anecdote because it is so reminiscent of him. We faced many new obstacles which seemed daunting to us at the time, but Grandpa knew the Lord always saw us through and managed all things that occurred in Castle Valley to turn to our good. This was the chance of a lifetime orchestrated by a Heavenly Host. Moving to the country and establishing a working homestead was far beyond our capacity alone, but is was well within His.
Just as the Lord did this for me and my family, he will provide the same kind of support for you and your families if you let him.
Whether you live in the city in an expansive neighborhood or a small cottage on the corner—or perhaps you have no home at all—He can and will turn your righteous efforts to your good and reward you with mansions in heaven and peace here on earth.
I know this to be true from experience.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.