The following article previously ran on LDS Living last year and is being shared as part of an article series that will highlight the life and teachings of President Russell M. Nelson. Beginning at his birthday week and leading up to general conference, LDS Living will focus on the insights and life lessons we can learn from the Lord's prophet on the earth today.
Throughout his service in the Church, President Nelson has told many stories of when he witnessed the power of God in his life. Here are a few of those moments, excerpted from the new book Teachings of Russell M. Nelson.
"A Picture Came Vividly to My Mind"
Many of us have had experiences with the sweet power of prayer. One of mine was shared with a stake patriarch from southern Utah. I first met him in my medical office more than forty years ago, during the early pioneering days of surgery of the heart. This saintly soul suffered much because of a failing heart. He pleaded for help, thinking that his condition resulted from a damaged but repairable valve in his heart.
Extensive evaluation revealed that he had two faulty valves. While one could be helped surgically, the other could not. Thus, an operation was not advised. He received this news with deep disappointment.
Subsequent visits ended with the same advice. Finally, in desperation, he spoke to me with considerable emotion: “Dr. Nelson, I have prayed for help and have been directed to you. The Lord will not reveal to me how to repair that second valve, but He can reveal it to you. Your mind is so prepared. If you will operate upon me, the Lord will make it known to you what to do. Please perform the operation that I need, and pray for the help that you need.”
His great faith had a profound effect upon me. How could I turn him away again? Following a fervent prayer together, I agreed to try. In preparing for that fateful day, I prayed over and over again, but still did not know what to do for his leaking tricuspid valve. Even as the operation commenced, my assistant asked, “What are you going to do for that?”
I said, “I do not know.”
We began the operation. After relieving the obstruction of the first valve, we exposed the second valve. We found it to be intact but so badly dilated that it could no longer function as it should. While examining this valve, a message was distinctly impressed upon my mind: Reduce the circumference of the ring. I announced that message to my assistant. “The valve tissue will be sufficient if we can effectively reduce the ring toward its normal size.”
But how? We could not apply a belt as one would use to tighten the waist of oversized trousers. We could not squeeze with a strap as one would cinch a saddle on a horse. Then a picture came vividly to my mind, showing how stitches could be placed—to make a pleat here and a tuck there—to accomplish the desired objective. I still remember that mental image—complete with dotted lines where sutures should be placed. The repair was completed as diagrammed in my mind. We tested the valve and found the leak to be reduced remarkably. My assistant said, “It’s a miracle.”
I responded, “It’s an answer to prayer.”
The patient’s recovery was rapid and his relief gratifying. Not only was he helped in a marvelous way, but surgical help for other people with similar problems had become a possibility. I take no credit. Praise goes to this faithful patriarch and to God, who answered our prayers. (“Sweet Power of Prayer,” Ensign, May 2003)
"We Know We Were Protected by Angels"
The Lord made a promise to those faithfully engaged in His service. He said: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).
Sister Nelson and I are the beneficiaries of that promise. On one occasion (May 29, 2009), we were attacked by armed men with malicious intent. They announced their purpose: to kidnap her and to kill me. After they maliciously molested us in those evil objectives, they became totally foiled. A gun to my head failed to fire. And Sister Nelson was suddenly released from their hideous grasp. Then they disappeared as quickly as they appeared. We were mercifully rescued from potential disaster. We know we were protected by angels round about us. Yes, the Lord’s precious promise had been invoked in our behalf. (“Heavenly Messengers,” Wasatch and Utah County Conference Broadcast to 153 Stakes, September 14, 2014)