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We invite readers to submit a story from your life when you saw a tender mercy from the Lord. that time when you felt particularly noticed or loved by the Lord. Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks today for this entry from Jerrilyn Gillespie.
My story of feeling a tender mercy from the Lord took place many years ago when I was a student at BYU. It was the spring semester of my last year and that spring, we had been plagued with unusual weather in the form of London-type pea-soup thick fog. It was the kind of weather that had hung on for months and seemed to bring out all kinds of shady characters. Because there had been several incidents of student safety being threatened, BYU Security had asked that nobody travel alone day or night but to ask Security to take us home if we had no one with whom to walk.
On the evening in question, I had been at a meeting of Phi Kappa Phi and at the end of the meeting had walked across campus with a friend as we returned home. When we got to the point behind the Joseph Smith Building where a ramp led the way to 100 East and steps down through the Botanical Garden led to 400 East, I had to say goodbye to her as our ways parted at this time. For the first time that semester, I felt a little unsure knowing that we would both be walking home alone from this point and the thought crossed my mind, “I wish I had someone to walk home with me.”
I quickly brushed my fears aside, knowing that I lived only three blocks south of campus and would be home in less than 10 minutes.
I started down the stairs through the botanical garden, there were close to 150 steps. About halfway down, I crossed paths with a group of students coming up on campus. There were about 12 to 15 students in the group and they were laughing and talking. Suddenly, I became aware of one man in that group of students. Even though he was in the centre of the group, I knew exactly which person it was. It was as though a pair of scissors had cut his image apart from the rest of the group. I felt what felt like a puff of air in my face and a distinct impression or feeling came into my heart with words that said to me, “Stay away from him! Don’t have anything to do with him.”
As I neared the group, I noticed that he began to slow down and sidled himself toward the edge of the group. While the group of students went on up the stairs, laughing and talking, he continued to slow as I drew near to where he was on the stair. When I came abreast of him, he suddenly stopped and said, “What time is it?”
Safe enough question, I thought. Glancing at my watch, I said, “8:00,” and I continued walking.
Then he stopped again and asked another question. “Where are you going?”
More dangerous question, I thought. But without stopping, I said, “I’m going home.” That was the truth but he didn’t know where home was. And I continued walking.
By this time, I was already several steps lower than he was, but even though I did not stop at any time or look at him, I was distinctly aware of everything that he was doing. It was as though I had eyes in the back of my head and could see his every move. He then stopped and asked one more question, “Do you want me to take you?”
Most dangerous question, I thought. But without stopping, I merely said, “No thank you, it is a nice evening and I prefer to walk.” And I continued walking.
At this point, I sensed that he was about to ask one more question, even though he was now well behind me and I was not looking at him. However, he seemed to think better of it, shrugged his shoulders and turned and continued on up the stairs.
Once I got to the bottom of the stairs, I turned and looked back up through the Botanical Garden for the first time since the encounter but could see no one at all. I breathed a sigh of relief and turned and walked the three blocks to my home.
However, every few minutes, I turned and looked back, having the uneasy feeling that I might not have seen the last of him. For the first time I noticed how poorly lit Provo was as there were only two street lights in the three blocks. But as far as I could see each time I checked, the street was completely empty.
Finally, I made it the three blocks to my home and had only to cross the street to my house. Just as I stepped out into the street, I noticed a car at the corner pull out into the intersection to make a left-hand turn in front of me. As the driver’s window became adjacent to me, the driver rolled down his window and a voice said to me, “Are you sure you don’t want me to take you home?”
I had not been looking for cars and I had no idea where he had found a car so quickly and then had found me.
I said to him, “Quite sure thank you. I said that I wanted to walk.”
He then pulled the rest of the way around the corner, pulled over the curb, reached across the seat and opened the door on the passenger side, turned to me and said, “Get in!”
At that point I should have been absolutely terrified. But I knew that I should not let him know that. I also knew that I did not have the physical power to fight him or the ability to scream with any kind of vocal projection. So instead, I stamped my foot and said slowly and surely in an over-enunciated voice, “No, thank you. I said that I wanted to walk and I am going to walk!!” I then threw my shoulders back, put my nose in the air and marched off right past my house and continued down the block.
Again it was as though I could see out of every cell of my body as I was aware of how long he sat there watching me, and the exact moment that he pulled away from the curb and drove off. The minute that he left, I turned and ran faster than I had ever done in my life, back up the street to my house and tore into my house at breakneck speed.
My entrance brought my roommate running from the other room. She took one look at me and said, “You look as though you have seen a ghost.”
I shared with her the experience I had just had. We then crept into her darkened bedroom which faced the front street and watched out the window.
Within a few moments, a car with its headlights turned off pulled slowly up across the road and sat there for a long time. I had no way to know if he had seen me and knew where I had gone or was just waiting in the general vicinity of where he had last seen me, hoping for me to show up again. But I was home for the night and safe and had no intention of leaving the house that night.
Even though this experience happened more than forty years ago, I remember it as vividly as if it was just last week.
As I have reflected on it over the years, I have realized that this was indeed a tender mercy of the Lord to me. While I should have been terrified, I wasn’t. At least not until it was all behind me and I realized how vulnerable I had been and what could have happened. But while I was going through it, I felt very calm and serene. It was as though the Holy Ghost was there with me, handing me a script and telling me everything that I needed to do and say to keep myself safe. The Holy Ghost has been called many things – Comforter, Revelator, Testator, Teacher. That night I knew that He was all of those and I knew that He was there with me, leading me on the path to safety.