Thomas explained to Shiblon the importance of following specific guidelines in woodworking and in metallurgy like his father did. Without following specific guidelines, the work would be inferior and not hold up to regular use. He went to the back of his woodshop and brought out a large bow. He showed Shiblon the bow and asked if he thought it was good bow. He inspected it and mentioned that he would love to have the bow; it was a beautiful bow and looked to be very well made.
Taking the bow back, Thomas shared a time when he was younger and just felled a large hickory tree. He was anxious to use the wood to create a bow. His father warned him about the importance of letting the wood dry completely before trying to shape it into a bow. Thomas remembered how impatient he was and after letting the wood pieces dry for a short couple of weeks, rather than for several months or even a couple of years. He was positive the wood was ready. He spent hours and hours on the bow and it was beautiful. He planned to use it for one of his competitions.
After finishing the bow, he practiced shooting targets with it to assure it was perfectly aligned. He seemed to have needed to adjust it more than most of his bows. Even though he believed he had it adjusted perfectly, his shot would be off. He would readjust the string, it would work for a while, then need realigning. He was beginning to feel very frustrated with the bow since perfect alignment was imperative for his competition. Yet again, he went to great effort to ensure it was perfectly aligned, then took it to a competition. During the warm-ups at the competition, his aim was off again. Finally, he did a thorough inspection of the bow and discovered it was slightly warped, just enough to where he would never be able to use it. He mentioned to Shiblon how grateful he was that he had taken another bow which he knew was made correctly.
He then handed the bow back to Shiblon and asked if he still wanted the bow. Shiblon examined it more carefully and found where the wood was warped. Thomas pointed out a couple other places where the wood slightly warped over several months after the competition.
Continuing his story, Thomas expressed his frustration about the bow to his grandfather who then reminded him about his impatience of waiting until the wood was completely dry before shaping it into a bow. He informed Shiblon that he honestly thought the that wood was dry enough to shape and carve and would be alright. He recalled how his grandfather pointed out to him the importance of the wood being completely dry before using it for anything, that even though it appeared to be dry, there was most likely moisture still in the wood. Even to build chairs, tables, boxes, the wood needed to be completely dry. Thomas acknowledged that he did not want to believe his grandfather, but over time, he learned the importance of only using timber that was completely dry, even if it took a couple years to dry. He explained to Shiblon that he had been tempted several times to begin a bow or a carving with wood that had not been completely dried, but the experience with his bow was a valuable lesson for him that helped lead to his success.
Shiblon asked if that was why he had so much timber in his woodshop. Thomas replied that was why and he was very careful to assure wood was dry before it was used to make something for a customer.
Thomas asked Shiblon about the steps his father used as he created works with metals and if there was any step that he could skip to save him time and effort. Both Shiblon and Pat laughed as they thought about the many times their father tried short cuts that only created more work and inferior products. Pat recalled the one time a sword that Micco made came out of the hilt during a battle because an important step was missed as he was making swords as quickly as he could. Micco was very grateful that this did not cause his customer to die or be severely wounded in the battle. Pat commented that from that time forth, Micco assured all of his products were of the highest standards.
Feeling somewhat frustrated, Shiblon asked what wood crafting and metal work had to do with obeying all the commandments. Thomas explained that when we know the entire picture, then it is easier to understand why we needed the commandments. He reminded Shiblon of the great Plan of Salvation given by our Heavenly Father and the importance of the coming of Jesus Christ in that plan.
Interrupting him, Shiblon asked if he actually believed that himself. Thomas hesitated, then slowly said yes. He went on to say that he doubted for so long, he wondered how Jesus could actually come and die for them. He wondered why a savior was even needed. He admitted that at times, he doubted the actual presence of a God, especially a loving God; but suddenly, in his need to help Shiblon understand, he was given the sweet assurance that God does live and that Jesus will come and atone for their sins. He began to weep as he said these words. Pat had tears come to his eyes as he also felt the sweet assurance of the Holy Ghost testifying that what Thomas said was true and right.
Adding to what Thomas said, Pat shared his feelings about God and the Plan of Salvation, and how Jesus Christ was the center of that plan. Even though Jesus had not come yet, Pat shared how he had felt the powerful influence of the spirit confirming to him that He would come, just as all the prophets had testified.
Thomas added that his parents always taught him that it was freeing to obey God’s commandments. Although God gave man agency, man would always be more free by obeying His commandments and sin brought bondage. Just as missing important steps in woodworking and metallurgy results in inferior or damaged products, failure to keep the commandments results in bondage and not being as whole and complete as he could be.
Shiblon felt like he had been trapped in a corner. He expressed that he felt that he had been betrayed by Thomas, the one person he thought he could trust with his feelings about God, one person who he thought would agree with him. He resentfully expressed his disappointment to Thomas that he was suddenly a believer. Thomas reminded him that he had always believed, he had just forgotten for a time that he did believe.
With all the energy of his heart and tears in his eyes, Thomas expressed his love for Nara and the hope that he will be with her forever. He expressed his gratitude and love for Maren and how he hoped to have a great life with her and that somehow in the eternities, his love for Maren would be rewarded and that she and Teetonka could be together forever. He asserted his now firm conviction that God will make everything right in the next life. He testified of his belief in Jesus Christ and the importance of following the prophets.
Pipi, who was laying next to Thomas, quietly got up and licked Shiblon’s hand as if he were trying to tell him that all would be okay. He then went to Thomas and jumped up on his lap as if he were pleased with the words he had spoken. All three laughed as Pipi did this, adding some lightness and peace to a tense situation.
Thanking Thomas for his words, Shiblon told him that he would think about what he said, but still was not convinced about the reality of God and especially of the coming of Jesus Christ. He used the same argument as all the nonbelievers: How could anyone know of something that is to come? Pat stared at him disbelievingly, yet with love, and asked him if he did not feel the spirit that was there. Shiblon replied that he wanted to feel it but did not feel anything different, then added his wonderment of why they were crying; two large, grown men with tears in their eyes.
He then stated that he needed to figure this out for himself; he needed time and space. Pat promptly directed him to talk to the prophets, teachers, and their parents, not those who were trying to destroy their faith and their lives. Shiblon replied that he had listened to those people his entire life, now it was time to hear the other side. Feeling some empathy towards him, Thomas told him he understood his feelings and asked him to at least take his experiences in to consideration. He reminded Shiblon that he would not find joy and happiness in what Motega and Dena taught. While he may find some temporary pleasure and gratification, he would never find the long-lasting joy and happiness that his parents had. He then pled with all the sincerity of his heart for Shiblon to seriously heed his words.
Thomas wished he could warn Shiblon of all the dangers of listening to Motega and his group but knew it would only push him away. He felt as though Shiblon were like a younger brother and desperately wanted to help him but knew he could only do so much. Fortunately Shiblon was still considered underage at age 15, so his parents still had responsibility over him for another year or so. He reflected back to when he was 15 and felt grateful for the competitions that he was involved in that helped to keep him focused. He also felt a strong gratitude for his grandfather who helped him through some tough times. He then thought of Nara; he knew when he was 15 that he wanted to marry her. That decision proved to be valuable to him as it gave him a focus and a very good reason to stay close to God.
Feeling a strong urge to leave, Shiblon abruptly stood up and stated that he was going home. Pat looked at him with skepticism in his eyes; Shiblon responded with a snarky attitude that he would go straight home. Besides, he figured that Motega and Dena were gone. As he walked walk out of the woodshop, Thomas let him know that he could come and talk anytime.
Reflecting on the conversation, Pat mentioned that Shiblon had always been more free-spirited than the rest of the family. He had always questioned his parents more than all his other siblings, especially when it came to matters of religion. Thomas expressed his empathy towards Shiblon as he had his doubts about God; then conveyed his deep gratitude for what he had just experienced, feelings that he had not felt since in his early marriage with Nara. He was so grateful to again know that God existed and to feel his love and mercy for him. Pat thanked him for the powerful witness that he gave of God, Jesus, and the Plan of Salvation. Thomas and Pat then returned to work.
The next day Micco came by the woodshop to express his profound gratitude to Thomas. He mentioned that Shiblon told him about their conversation and that what Thomas expressed to him actually helped, but he still questioned the reality of God and the coming of Jesus and wanted to continue to search. Micco’s deep blue eyes looked sad as he knew that Shiblon would most likely go to the marketplace again to see if Motega and Dena were there, or if any others came to talk to the people. He wished that he could completely prevent Shiblon from going to the marketplace and mentioned his desire to do better to keep him busier at home and in his business, but ultimately knew he could not keep his free-willed son chained up.
(To be continued…)