My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

The Sketch

The following comes from The Instructor Vol. 65, No. 1 which was published in January of 1930 and was written by George Smith Dibble

On a beautiful morning early in the spring of nineteen hundred twenty-nine, an artist sat within the walls of the Temple grounds at Salt Lake City enjoying that heavenly peace which only communion with the infinite can bring. As he gazed upward at the ennobling spires of the Temple he marvelled at the grandeur and magnificence of that holy edifice; a soul inspiring structure, a divine masterpiece wrought of such enduring strength as the works
of the Master Himself.

Suddenly the urge to sketch was upon him and seizing a pencil and drawing paper, he immediately set to work penciling a group of tourists who sat on an iron railing near by. Being engrossed in his work he did not notice an interested observer, who, with eyes riveted upon the drawing, moved nearer and nearer along the stone coping until his elbow fairly brushed the worker’s arm. As the picture rapidly took form an attentive observer peered steadily over the shoulder of the one who sketched.

Swiftly the sketch was completed and then the artist turned to look into a pair of frank, honest, brown eyes. They belonged to a ruddy faced, clean cut man of rather stout build who appeared to be in his early forties. Quite suddenly abashed, he drew back quickly and apologetically.

“I’m very sorry. I did not mean to interfere with your work. I enjoyed watching you sketch because it reminded me of my brother whom I have often accompanied as he sketched along the canal banks in Holland.”

“Please rest assured that you did not bother me in the least and I’m glad you enjoyed watching the sketch. Won’t you tell me something of your brother and about your native country, Holland?”

“My brother is a very capable artist and since I have been in America he has occasionally sent me examples of his work.”

“How long have you been in America ?”

“Almost six years. Do you belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

“Yes.”

“Then I believe you would like to hear my story.”

“I feel that your story must be an interesting one and I’ll be delighted to have you relate it.”

The tables were now turned and the one who had just sketched, observed while the former onlooker painted. And great tear-drops welled from the fountain of his soul to course down his cheeks while he related this touching narrative:

“Before the World War I was a harness maker by trade, living in a small village in Holland. I was carefree and reckless. My thoughts were of worldly pleasures rather than of spiritual things. I indulged in tobacco and strong drink and squandered the time which should have been spent in the company of my dear wife and children, with worthless associates.

“My wife tried to get me to change my ways; to spend the evenings at home; to forsake my bad habits and worthless companions and to supplicate my Maker in prayer for a true understanding of the meaning of life. “Her entreaties had no effect on me until the horrors of the world conflict were brought to the doors of our little nation. The sight of the maimed and wounded men who passed through our borders made the heart within me sick.

“I began to ponder over this question. For those who had given their lives in the battle’s heat, what lay beyond that yawning chasm of death? Would they find post existence or oblivion? What of those mangled humans compelled to spend the rest of their earthly existence in helpless deformity? What comforting Power would sustain them in their hour of trial?

“My wife, inwardly rejoicing at the change which had come over me induced me to read the Bible. During the evenings which I now spent at home, she would read to the children and me from this Holy Book.

“Not long after this, our eldest son was stricken with a dread disease from which there appeared to be no hope of immediate recovery. Physicians advised that we take him to another climate but not being financially able to carry out such a plan, our apprehension increased as the boy grew steadily worse. In the midst of our despair, my wife learned through friends of the presence of two “Mormon” Elders in our city. They were said to possess the same power delegated by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the Elders of the Ancient Church and by which power they were able to perform miraculous healings. That they actually did we were soon to discover to our great joy.

“We immediately sent for the Elders and earnestly besought them to aid our stricken child. They administered to him and rebuked the disease which afflicted him. He was told that he should enjoy complete recovery and that his limbs which had become seriously deformed through the ravages of the disease would become straight.

“He began his recovery immediately, and today, seven years later, he is a strong healthy youth of sixteen with limbs that are perfectly straight as normal limbs should be.

“After hearing the gospel preached to us we joined the Church and in a suprisingly short time found ourselves able to come to Utah. Here I am able to make a substantial living working at my trade. No longer is my money wasted on such things as tea, coffee and tobacco. We have thus been enabled to enjoy comforts that have not before been available.

“Our hearts are filled with joy and thanksgiving to the Giver of all gifts who has made us recipients of such bounteous blessings.

“Only a short time ago our daughter was injured in a fall from a horse. The attending physician pronounced her condition serious. Through the administration of the Elders and the power of faith she was instantly healed.”

His eyes were moist and his clean face mirrored the fervent joy of his soul as he said:

“We are grateful to our Heavenly Father that those two missionaries were sent to bring us the Light which leads to righteousness and life eternal for we know that it is the Divine Plan laid down by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Speaking of this story to a friend later the artist said:

“After hearing this story I uttered within my heart a fervent prayer of thanksgiving that I too shared the Light given of the Supreme Being from whose throne of Grace emanates all good and Who guides with His merciful hand the destinies of all men if they will but seek Him and keep His commandments. I have enthused over colorful and rhythmic figure studies in the field of art; thrilled over land and plant forms of rare beauty and emotional portrayals in the medium of pen and pigment, but never has a picture touched me so deeply as the one I have just witnessed: a picture etched simply in glowing colors of sincerity – illumined by the light of faith – the picture of a soul.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I often reflect on the story above when considering the Gospel and the panoramic view of immortality that the Plan of Salvation provides.

When teaching a class, or bearing our testimonies, or talking to others about our faith, do we paint the Picture of the Gospel with dull undertones and in lazy motions? Do we give full life and vigor to the Savior when we paint a picture with our words? Do we have enough of the Holy Spirit with us to paint a plethora of living testimony in the pigments of our lives? Do we, as the convert in the story above, live “illumined by the light of faith”? Or are we living within the darkness of Babylon (the World)?

We hold the pencils, paintbrushes, and profusion of paints within our own persons to paint our own views of immortality. That our we might sketch lives full of faith is my hope and prayer.

Your friend,

Stan

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