David Butler: When God Doesn’t Intervene, Does It Mean He’s Absent?

Episode #11: Published Dec 19, 2018

David Butler’s love for God is contagious and, in this episode, we discuss God’s love for His children and our love for Him. How does God balance His love as a father with his allowance of our agency? If He truly loves us, why doesn’t He always intervene in times of trouble?

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MORGAN JONES: Hi, everyone, we hope you've enjoyed the All In podcast thus far. We promise to keep the good times coming on our end and we wondered if you would be willing to do us a quick favor. If you've enjoyed what you've heard, please rate us or leave a review on iTunes or wherever you choose to listen to your podcast. And if you haven't already, don't forget to subscribe

God is our loving Heavenly Father. It is the first principle that Latter-day Saint missionaries typically teach. But what does that love look and feel like? That is exactly what we talk about in today's episode with David  Butler, the author of the new book Almighty. This is All In. An LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan  Jones, and I can't wait to talk today with one of my favorite gospel teachers, Mr, or maybe I should say brother, David  Butler, David. 

DAVID BUTLER:  Hi!

MJ: Welcome. 

DB: Thanks!

MJ: How's it going? 

DB: Good.

MJ: Perfect.

DB: How are you going? 

MJ: I'm going well!

DB: Okay good. I'm glad. 

MJ: Well, I'm so excited to talk with you because I just finished "Almighty", and I loved it. 

DB: Thank you, thank you. 

MJ: And so, I have a few questions about how this book came to be right off. So first question is, I feel like to write a book, you have to be pretty passionate about a topic? That's why I haven't written a book. I can't find anything I'm passionate enough about. 

DB: Get some passions.

MJ: I know, I know.

DB: For heaven's sake.

MJ: It's a personal problem, obviously. But why would you say are you so passionate about this topic of God is our Heavenly Father and someone that loves us? 

DB: Oh, man, I could probably say three things. One is I was sitting in sacrament meeting one time, and I noticed that most of the testimonies, usually from the younger ones in there were all starting off with, "I'd like to bear my testimony. I know this church is true." And I thought is that are like leading truth? Like, why does everybody start with that line? 

MJ: And if so, what does that even mean? 

DB: Right? Yeah, exactly. And I was just like, what, this is what why everybody this is like, I could even make the rhythm of the, you know, of the testimony. And people would know what I was saying without, you know if I was just I knew you were going to ask I was ready. You know, someone's like, "I'd like to bear my testimony and nuh nuh nuh nuh, like everybody knows exactly what that means. I wonder what it sounds like in other languages. And so that kind of got me thinking. And then I had a couple of conversations after that. One of them was with someone that I'm very close to, and she was really struggling in her faith and she was struggling with church history things. She was struggling with a lot of doubts. And she asked me, "You know, do you think I should start all over? Do you think I should remove my name from the records of the church?" And like, she was just in a really tough spot and I said, "Look as a personal favor to me, don't remove your name from the records of the church. And my other bit of advice is, if you're going to start over, start over with our first foundational truth, and that is with God, like, what do you believe about him? Do you believe he's there? What do you think his characters like? And that is where I want you to start." And when it was kind of after that conversation, and so all those kind of happened around the same time, and, and that's when I thought, I want to like, re-emphasize and focus again on that, like foundational golden truth. Number one, like we believe in God, the Eternal Father, and all the aspects of that right, which we might get into a little bit later, but that he's not God, the eternal being or God, the eternal ruler 

MJ: Or totally impersonal, right? 

DB: Although he is a ruler and a king and he's sovereign, you know, and he is a being, you know, but I just love that idea that he has both of those at the same time. I'm almighty, eternal, endless, and I am Father. 

MJ: Yeah. 

DB: Both together. So anyway, those are the kind of conversations that got me, I think going on it and then I, you know, that was the springboard I guess. 

MJ: Yes. So kind of drawing from that. I have a couple of follow up questions. First question. Can you pinpoint the point in your life where that truth that God is our loving Heavenly Father kind of came alive for you or when you first started to gain your testimony of that principle?

DB: You know, this book I actually-- the hardest part of writing the book for me is deciding who to dedicate it to actually. And this one was easy. I dedicated it to my dad. It was so, I'm not, I know I am, that everyone is not like this. But for me. I was lucky enough to be born into a home where I had a father who, like looked after me like a good father would. And so the way he raised me and loved me, made it really easy for me to believe that God was a father and that he loved me with that kind of tender attention and care. And so, I don't know if they're, I mean, I have I've had experiences where I feel like, Oh, I know that God actually knows me, like Dave Butler, you know, because I feel like that's a hard jump. I was actually just thinking about that this morning. I was like, why is it so easy to believe that God loves everybody else? 

MJ: Except for ourselves. 

DB: Except me! You know, like, I taught seminary for a lot of years and, and I would like, tell that six times a day, you know, and feel really passionately about it and really deeply about it. And I felt like I was bearing like an authentic like, meaningful witness to people, that God knew them, that he adored them like I knew it, I knew it. And then our hop in my car, and then wonder, I was like, "Wait, is that true about me?" You know? 

MJ: Yeah. 

DB: And it's, I'm pretty open and honest about that too, because I think I found that's kind of a common struggle or question that people have. 

MJ: Absolutely. 

DB: But you know, I've had those experiences along the way. But, man, I think because of how my parents raised me, again, it just says it's made it so natural and easy for me to believe that that is what God would be like. 

MJ: It's like a little taste of what that love is like. 

DB: Yeah! I just like it. Just it's it was no, it was no problem for me to think that he's like that just because my dad is like that. And I wonder, they're like their own parents or their own father, you know? 

MJ: Right. 

DB: If their dad was really strict, I wonder if that paints like a strict picture of 

MJ: Maybe you should do a study on that.

DB: You know, someone really smart should do a study at BYU or something. Um, and then I'll just quote it in another book. But yeah.

MJ: That'd be-- I think that's awesome. I love that thought. And I also love your thought about how it's easier to believe that others are loved, and harder to believe that about ourselves. I actually my mission president's wife had this principle that she would always teach. And she talked about the doctrine of hope, and how the story of Moses and the brass serpent. That there are these people that are getting bitten by these fiery, flying serpents, and they're told, the other people are told, you know, if you'll just look, you'll live, but because we read that because of the easiness of the way, in the Book of Mormon, says, you know, they wouldn't look because they didn't believe that it would heal them. And so she would always say, you know, "Here's these people and they're seeing other people be healed, but they don't believe that they can be healed. It's working for other people, but not working for them." And I've noticed that in my own life, like, I'll be like, "I have hope for you and all of my friends and all my family but not for myself." So I think that that is something that we struggle within different aspects of the gospel is believing that we're worthy of that love or that hope or that forgiveness, whatever it is. 

DB: Yeah, I honestly was— my like thought process this morning— I was thinking like, "Okay, what how do we might cause my like new like quest is how do I help people like discover that then, like, what's the best advice to give to a person to help them discover. So I've actually just been like, I'm in a mess in my mind, like searching through like, okay, what are my, you know, what are my foundational moments in my life? Because, like, as of right now, and I feel like God really like I think he loves me and I think he really likes me, like, it's just like I go into prayer, and I just feel like he's so excited to hear from me like he loves when I pray. You know, that's really like, might sound pompous, but I just kind of like— 

MJ: You're like, "I think he's a fan."

DB: Yeah, I think he really likes me, you know, and maybe that's because my prayers are all over the board. He's just like, I just love this kid every time he kneels down I think, "Somebody fix him." So I maybe I'm a challenge for him, I don't know. But I just think he like you know, really likes me. And I'm like, where did that, where did that come from? Why do I—because I can remember times when— 

MJ: Yeah.  You didn't feel as confident.

DB: I didn't feel as confident about that. 

MJ: Right. 

DB: And so anyway, I'm trying to figure out what's what advice can we give to a person? You know, what I've met, one that I think is like, a good one is for people to look for his hand in their life, 

MJ: Right. 

DB: If they made a deliberate effort, you know, to look and write it, and think about it at the end of the day, because that takes a lot more effort. That sounds like a simple request. But I feel like it's like, and I've done that before. One time I actually did this. Oh, I'm just this is actually good. Someone write this down. I did this study of the Book of Mormon once. Now normally, I'm not like a think-of-a-topic-and-move-to-the-scriptures type of person, I'm way to ADD for that to happen. But I did it this one time where I looked for all the tender mercies in the Book of Mormon. Ways that God reached out into people's stories, 

MJ: Okay.

DB: Through angels, inspiration, direction, like anything I can find. And it's been the most meaningful study of the Book of Mormon I've ever done. And finished it, and when I finished it, I was able to start noticing his like, involvement in him being in my story a lot easier after going through a round of the Book of Mormon like that. So 

MJ: That's really beautiful. 

DB: Maybe I'm adding that on to my advice list. 

MJ: I like it.

DB: That's unwritten right now.

MJ: I think that you should. You mentioned earlier, some names of our Heavenly Father, names that he's referred to in the scriptures. Why did you choose "Almighty" as the title for the book?

DB: Oh, well, first of all, I think it's a really cool word. I was like, that's just, it's one that you would know, oh, that is definitely God. But whoever calls him that you know? 

MJ: Right

DB: Like, just in our culture, I don't think that's a word we use all the time. So I was intrigued by it, you know, with that, but one of my favorite truths about God is that he can do anything, anytime, anywhere. And I think the word almighty, like teaches that little trio of truth. Whoo, that was cool. That was like an Elder Maxwell. But it just, right, he can do anything, anytime, anywhere. And almighty like encapsulates that idea. I love that truth about God. I love believing it. I love telling people about it. I love thinking about it. And so that's kind of why I chose it is because it sort of teaches that. 

MJ: Yeah, well, I think it does such a good job of presenting the many different ways that he is that throughout the book, I'm interested also, though, to know, so you've written children's books? And then you've co-authored some books for adults. 

DB: Yep. 

MJ: But this book is for teenagers. 

DB: Yeah. 

MJ: Why do you feel like you decided to make teenagers your target audience? And why is it important for them to understand and internalize this truth?

DB: Well, well, I don't know. Just because I co-authored for adults and kids is like, who's left, you know, teenagers and grandmas. So all you grandmas look for that next one. But I just, and I spent 10 years teaching seminary and I teach Institute right now. So, they're kind of my-

MJ: They're your people 

DB: They're my peeps, you know, like that. They're, they're kind of who I relate to. Jenny makes fun of me sometimes. Jenny's my wife, and she just says, "All of your friends are 15 years younger than you." And I was like, "I know, I just really liked them all." 

MJ: Dave, what does that say about your maturity level?

DB: It's fine. I'm 15 years less than that. So like, it's just all fine and good. But yeah, I just, I really think there is just something about teenage and young adult that is exciting. And like there, they kind of push boundaries, they ask questions, they wonder, and for a long time, I think that was sort of like squashed a little bit, like, don't ask that question. And don't explore that. And I think we're coming into a time period where people are and they're trying to, you know, discover and I think actually one of the hang-ups, one of the things that people feel a little bit like, I don't even know the right word. Just a little like, I'm like a dissonance about is that we seem so like, you know, church focused, you know, as a people like organization, like there are words like, Oh, am I doing all the right things for the organization. Like all of our language is like that. An eight-year-old thinks that their— I wrote a book on baptism because all the eight-year-olds were saying, "I'm getting baptized as a member of the church." And I was like, "That's true." But how come no one says, "I'm making covenants with, with God?"

MJ: Right.

DB: You know? Or when people have a question. They're like, what's the church say, you know, and the end was like, wait, what do you mean, number one? Do you mean like, what are the prophets teaching? And do you know, that prophets are speaking for God? Like, that's what you mean, when you say that, you know?

MJ: Yeah. 

DB: And so I just felt this, like, need to, like, let's recenter people on, on faith in God and faith in Jesus Christ, you know? So, I can't even remember what your question was. I think that was a good answer. 

MJ: That was,  that was a great answer.

DB: I felt like it was a double question, too. I can't remember what you're saying here. 

MJ: You know what? I can't if it was a double question, I can't even remember what the second part of it was. We're just gonna keep rolling. 

DB: Okay.

MJ: Do you have a favorite gospel teacher yourself? Kind of putting you on the spot on that one?

DB: Yeah. Um, well. Let me think, Well, yes, I have a few. The first name, I thought it was Emily Freeman, who y'all know. We co-authored a couple of books together, but we just think the same way. Right? You know, which made it easy to write together, because we just, you know, and so she's kind of my go-to person. Where if I, like, have a new thought in the scriptures, like, I'll just text it to her like, we have an ongoing conversation, actually, it's like six ongoing conversations at the same time. We're like bouncing ideas off each other, like "What do you- why do you think?" You know? "This is in the scriptures." Or "These two seem to contradict? What do you think about this?" But man, I love when she teaches, and it's probably because, you know, she teaches in a similar way that I, you know, that I think, right? I also like really love a lot of when we wrote "Peter Potential", and "Maybe Today", we wrote those kind of for a general Christian audience. And so I really started trying to learn, like, the Christian voice, you know, like, what's the evangelical Christian voice, you know? And came across some, some preachers and teachers in that world that I just adore. One of them I love right now, Judah Smith. I just love him. His mantra is to love like Jesus. And I'm just like, I just love. He just thinks the way I think. I had a friend recommend one of his books to me and say, like, I think you guys would be friends. That was such a compliment after I got done reading one of his stuff, so-

MJ: I'm gonna have to check him out. 

DB: Oh, you will love him. Like he just- yeah, so many good stuff. So yeah, so yeah, those two names come to mind right off the bat.

MJ: Perfect. So I want to kind of dive into a few parts of the book that I really, really loved. And maybe have you share a few of the stories that you share in the book, I don't want to give too much away. But one part that I really, really adored, was a part that kind of answers the question that I think a lot of people have, which is why doesn't God intervene and keep bad things from happening? And you give this example of James and Peter, and I wondered if you might be able to kind of share that in your own words. And also, it kind of expounds upon how that answers that question?

DB: Yeah. So there is that the story in the book of Acts, where, you know, Peter and James are both in prison at different times. And Luke, who writes the book of Acts doesn't like write up the drama very well because of the beginning of that chapter. James goes into prison. And then two verses later, he's killed, you know, he's beheaded. And it started, you know, you read that. And if you paint the actual picture of what's going on, like, imagine waking up tomorrow, and it's like, Elder Bednard's in jail, you know? And he's got an execution date, you know, that would like, cause a firestorm.

MJ: Right? Like, so alarming?

DB: Oh, absolutely. You know,? And so, it's so quick in that book, I mean, in the book of Acts, that you're just like, "Oh, that's too bad." Then I was like, wait a second! This is like one of like, the leadership of the church, you know, and that would like, your phone would buzz like, right off the nightstand if that were to happen. And then to imagine like, wait, who would be praying? Everyone, every class, every meal, all day long as people walk they would be praying for his rescue, his release, you know? And most of all, his wife and even his kids and, you know, his nephews and nieces. And like—

MJ: Since like, he's actually a real human.

DB: Yes! Yeah, you know, like, and then all of a sudden, like, he just dies. And you're like, wait a second. And we had this like, in like, strange idea as people that you know, maybe there's some people that God likes a little bit better, like the prophets and apostles? And then if he would answer a prayer, it would definitely be for them. Or it would definitely be for that lady, you know, who's on the second row at church? But not in me, not for me, who sits on the hard chairs, you know what I mean? Like, we have- 

MJ: Roles in fifteen minutes late.

DB: Yeah exactly. Like we have this strange idea that like, of course, you'll answer for you, or, you know, for him or for her.

MJ: There it is again, right,? 

DB: Right! Yeah, so I actually love that story, because it is two apostles who are like, the, you know, the story is centered on. And so all of a sudden, he just dies. And I think that is right when the devil moves in, in moments like that, you know? And says things like, "You must not have enough faith. God must not have the power to do it. God must not be concerned with you." Because that- I had a good friend whose husband was in a coma. And we were praying, and he was receiving blessings. And she said to me, like, "I know what the right answer is. And it's that a dad lives, right?" Like, what's the right answer? Easy. If a dad has a three-year-old kid, then the easy right answer for God is to heal him and keep him alive. You know, and, and so the same with this, like this man was in prison because of his faith. That's when God intervenes. Like, that's when you should if you look at God's rule book, that's what it should say, you know, is that's when you step in. 

MJ: Yeah. 

DB: And then it complicates it, when, after James dies, Peter is then imprisoned. So the next day, your phone's buzzing off, because now President Nelson is, you know, he's in prison and has an execution date. And so everyone starts praying for him, like crazy. But I think the devil moves in at the beginning of that story, and says, "Well, he didn't rescue James. So why do you think he's going to rescue him? So it's not even worth praying about it? It's not even worth concerning. Because you are, you know, you've already learned that God doesn't care." You know, but then he does get rescued, you know, in this crazy, miraculous way, you know, he's in like, the deepest part of the jail with 16 guards, you know, and chained to two in the night. And an angel comes, you know, and takes off the chains and walks him past all the people out into the street. Like, it's seriously one of the funniest stories in the Bible. Like, that's an underrated story, because it's hilarious, you know? That, first of all, that the angel tries to wake him up with his light, and it doesn't work. So then he has to kick Peter to wake him up. Like that gives me hope, for Sunday mornings, you know? That, like, look, even the great prophet Peter was not a morning person. So and then he's rescued. And, and then, you know, finds, you know, the house, everybody's praying. And it's funny because he knocks on the door and wrote a, you know, goes to the door. It's like, it's Peter. And like, everyone's like, "Oh, it must be his ghost. Because he's dead." You know, and like, ghosts are stopped at doors. But anyway, then I think the devil comes in a third time and would say, especially to James, his wife, and James's kids. Like, "How come he rescued Peter? And how come we didn't rescue James? You know, is Peter more valued? Is Peter more righteous?" Which is the wrong question to ask, because miracles aren't based off of our righteousness, they're based off of God's will and God's love, right? But those are the questions that I think people will ask. And so to have those two stories right next to each other, is so like valuable because it just says, look, sometimes people get the sword. And sometimes people are rescued with an angel. And in that story, it is they are on even playing ground. Right? They're both just as valued. You can't play these games with your mind, like, Oh, he's this position in the church. And he's this one. And this is why say- nananananana, right? All those are like neutralized in the story. And it's like, wait, you've got one where God rescues and one where God rescues in another way, I think is the way to, you know, to say that. And I tell the story in the book, but I was sharing that story at an EFY. And there was a boy who was there. And he raised his hand. And he just said, "Sometimes your sword turns into an angel." And I was like, "Wait, what do you mean, tell me about that." And he just said that his dad had passed away in a car accident, just a couple weeks before coming to EFY. And he said, "I would take the angel 10 for 10. Like, we definitely got the sword, you know, in that situation. But since then, God has sent His angels. And he's been with us, he's strengthened us, he's teaching us lessons, he's guiding us through this. And that experience is, is turning into, you know, an angel experience." And that's just that is true about God. That there are reasons that he gives the sword sometimes, and there are reasons that he, you know, brings in an angel. He can do it. He can do anything, anytime, anywhere. You know, so if he's not intervening the way you want him to, there is a reason for it. And that reason, is love 10 for 10, every time. That kid when he was done telling the story, it was such a good feeling in the room.

MJ: I got like full-body chills when you were saying that.

DB: I think there is an angel in this room, you know when he was telling the story, and I was like, I just said, "Hey, what is your name?" And he was just like, "It's Peter." I was like, "Oh, my gosh, of course it is. Why wouldn't it be in a situation like this?" And anyway, he and I kept in contact. He's serving a mission right now. 

MJ: And that's amazing. 

DB: Yeah. So.

MJ: I think that that is such an- an incredible perspective. Because, I think so many times we fail to recognize when those swords become angels if that makes sense. And I while you were talking, I was like how do we develop that? That kind of trust, and that kind of ability to overcome those things you were mentioning, those different ways that Satan kind of jumps in and gets inside our head? How do you think that we do that? How do we overcome those feelings of discouragement and despair and recognize when the sword becomes the angel? How do we not let discouragement overcome us before that?

DB: Well, this, the thing is, is my friend, his mom has a phrase that's written like on a thing on our wall that says, "When you can't see the hand of God, you trust his heart." And I think the key is to look to the character of God, like, what is he like? What is- what are his attributes, and what is his character? And when you look at that, and when you see that God is a God of compassion. That God is in God's in the exalting business, that he's for me. That image of, of the Savior on the cross, and in Gethsemane, is the image of God's love for his people. "For God so loved the world, that He sent His Son." Like, when we look to that scene, we are confident that God is for us. That he's on our side. Like, I know, no matter what happens in this life, he's on my side, because of him sending His Son to the world for me. Like, I know, he's for me. So I know, anything that happens in my life. I might not want it to happen, I might not understand it. But I know what his hearts like, and it's a father's heart. And it's a heart that's willing to lay everything on the altar, you know, for me. And, and in that analogy of swords and angels, because Jesus came to the world, and took the sword for all of us, we all can get that angel. Like, it does work out in the end. We have something we can hope in.

MJ: Where does agency play into what you were just saying about Heavenly Father being for us and everything working out? From your perspective, how does agency play into that?

DB: Into like, everything working out? 

MJ: Yeah. 

DB: For us? Well, I just dropped a line that I- I'll just repeat again, which is that he's in the is in the exalting business, you know? And part of that is agency. Like, God gives us the dignity to choose Him. And it is in the choosing Him that we grow, that we develop. Like trust can't be trust unless there is a choice to not trust and faith can't be faith, unless there's an opportunity to you know, not have faith. And so, agency is that opportunity for us to, to choose Him. But I think He is constantly trying to win us over. Like He knows we have to choose Him. Like we were already with Him. Right? 

MJ: Right.

DB: In the pre-mortal world, right? And so He sent us here, and part of the reason for sending us here is to have an experience where you choose me based off of trust and faith because of what that's going to do for our souls. Like the waiting, and the yearning, and the praying, and the begging. Those are all exalting principles. That's why He like created this experience to be like this, at least one of the reasons that He does, you know?

MJ: Yeah. What about the agency of other people?

DB: Well, same, same thing, right. So if He's going to give me the agency to choose Him, then He's got to give me the agency to not choose Him, you know? And to rebel against Him. And part of that rebellion against Him is going to be hurting other people like He gives me the freedom to hurt other people. It's not, I'm not really growing and changing like I would just be a puppet otherwise. Like to actually give me agency means I am like living and growing and changing in this world. But you have to have both sites, or it's not real-life choices. And if they're not real, then we're just in a play, or we're just actors on a stage. And that's not what we are. We're like-

MJ: It's like the "The Truman Show" 

DB: Yeah. And we are actually like living lives, you know, and we're growing and developing and changing. And so if you stopped people's agency, if you stopped their ability to choose wrong, to choose to hurt others, then it's not real agency anymore. And then you wipe away the chances to grow and develop too. And so I, He does, I mean, he allowed James to get the sword. But that doesn't mean it didn't break His heart when it happened. And that doesn't mean that He sat on the edge of the bed with his wife and kids as they cried themselves to sleep. Like, just because He allowed it doesn't mean that He is absent from that situation.

MJ: Yeah. Thank you. 

DB: Yeah. 

MJ: I love that. So, there was a part in your book that made me feel like either we're kindred spirits or Heavenly Father- 

DB: Well we are, so.

MJ: Heavenly Father, does this music thing with multiple people because you tell this story. And I wonder if you wouldn't mind sharing it about hearing a song on your mission? Yes. Can you share that story really quickly, and then I'm going to share mine.

DB: Okay. 

MJ: You see, we'll compare notes. 

DB: Okay. He likes music. So, yeah, about six months before I went on my mission. My mom took me to New York on a little trip, you know, because I just graduated. Was a freshman in college. And one of the nights we went to this off-Broadway show called The Fantasticks. It was random. Everything else was booked out, I guess. So we just like okay, like, hopefully, this is an appropriate place so we sat on the aisle, you know, so we could bail, just in case. And they had this song that was like, through the whole thing. And it was the song called "Try To Remember". It went, "Try to remember a time in September. When life was slow and oh, so mellow." I still remember it.

MJ: Thank you. You have such a nice voice!

DB: Oh whatever that was filtered, y'all, who are listening. That came through a filter. And so and you know, like songs like remind you of certain time periods in your life. And they're just like- you know what I mean? 

MJ: It like takes you back

DB: Yeah yeah! That's like from my freshman year or like, "Oh, that's my song with so and so." Do you know? 

MJ: Yeah, absolutely.

DB: So they were like, are connected memories. So that song was like connected with a really good memory. Reminded me of my mom and home. And like, you know, it was tied to that really good trip with her. 

MJ: Right. 

DB: So fast forward, like, almost a year, because I went to the MTC and then got to Korea, and it was at the end of March, and it still was freezing. I felt like we were in Antarctica. And I hate the cold. And I couldn't speak Korean. And I was starving to death. Because even though I love Korean food now, at the time, I was like, I cannot eat anything. And we had no McDonald's in our area. And we're on this college campus. And I was trying to stop people and talk to them and stuff, you know, and nobody was listening. And I was like, "This is ridiculous." And I sat there and I imagined in my mind, a globe, like the world. And I saw Texas, where I'm from, and I saw Korea, and I was like, "I'm serious. I'm literally on the other side of the world." Like I thought that was just a fake phrase. But that's real. Like, that is where I am on the other side of the world. And Asia is such a big continent. And there's so many people, and I seriously said out loud, like God lost me. Like he forgot what I was. Like He doesn't know where I am. And right when I said it, this is gonna sound fake. But it's true. Right, when I said it, like this crackling sound came, of like a speaker system, in this courtyard, of this college campus. And that song came on, "Try to remember a time in September when life was slow, and oh, so mellow." And I just melted. I was just like, I was like, "Oh." And just bawled. You know, my companion came up. And he was just like, "Are you okay?" And I was like, "Go away, like, God is playing a song for me. And you are interrupting." I'm having a moment, you know, and I and it was, it really was like, it was just like, it was crazy. The crazier part of that story, I don't know if I put in the book or not, is when I called my mom on Mother's Day, I told her that story. And she was like, "You are kidding?" And I was like, "What?" And then she was like, "There was a day. A couple of weeks ago, when I was like getting ready in the bathroom, putting on my makeup, and I was just missing you. So bad. And I wondered if you were okay and if things were going to be all right. And then the TV was on in the other room. And 'Good Morning America' was featuring this little play on Off-Broadway. And all of a sudden the song started to play on the TV." And-

MJ: I'm like getting teary-eyed over here

DB: So, it just happened on both ends. I don't even know if I put that in there or not. But-

MJ: No, I don't think that part. That's never before revealed content people.

DB: Exclusive! Right here at LDS living.

 

MJ: Well, it's funny, because when I read that, so I went into the mission field two weeks before Christmas. 

DB: Oh bless you.

MJ: I was so homesick. And I remember we would go to the grocery store. And we heard every Christmas song. Every Christmas song except for my favorite Christmas song, which is not even— It has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas. But "All I want for Christmas is you", Mariah Carey. Which I will not attempt to sing.

DB: I sang mine!

MJ: Yours was not sung by Mariah. You can do it. But I remember I said to my mission companion, my trainer, I said, "We have heard every Christmas song, except for my favorite Christmas song." And she's like, "What's that?" And I was like, "Mariah Carey. 'All I want for Christmas is you' it's the best Christmas song." So Christmas morning, we go to our branch president's house to Skype our families. And we knock on the door and they were Hispanic. He was the branch president in our Spanish branch. And he opens up the door and they are just blasting "All I want for Christmas is you." And she turns and looks at me— my trainer—and she looks at me and she goes, "Merry Christmas"

And it was just but for me it honestly was it was like heavenly Father being like, "I know where you are. I know what you love. I know what you care about." And His love is real. And I think like we're sometimes I think that we do ourselves a disservice by thinking that he doesn't care about those little things that are important to us.

DB: Yeah, he might as well tied a bow up on that song, for you. In those moments, I always say, I'll just like mumbling under my breath, "Like I see you" I'll say that to the Lord is like, "I see you." 

MJ: So my family has this thing that we do where when anything like really good happens. We'll just like point up to heaven and be like, "See you on Sunday." I guess, in closing, Dave, I just have one last question. And this is a question that we ask all of our guests on this podcast, and it is: For you, what does it mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

DB: Oh, I just I love that it's that phrase: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. And because we're recording this right near Christmas time. I can't help but think about that, you know, the shepherds, on the shepherd fields. And the angels that come and that one comes first and says, "I'm bringing you glad tidings or good news." Like, that's what the word gospel means. It means good news. And what's the good news? That unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior. Like, there's hope. There's freedom from death and sin. There is the reassurance that everything will be okay. You know that is the good news. And, and, and it caused, like a whole host of angels to break through the veil, perhaps like uninvited, but not unwelcome. You know, and that is how I feel about being all in. He's won me over, God has won me over. He has won my heart. He's just been too good to me and He's been too good to my family. And He gives us chances again and again and again and has filled me with hope. And He's just so so good to me that I just owe Him my whole heart and soul. And I give it willingly and I give it enthusiastically and when I hear that phrase of being all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what it makes me think of. I'm all in, in relationship with Him. He loved me first. And so I love Him with all like the vigor of my heart.

MJ: Well, Dave, you have been a delight. Thank you so much for sharing this time with us and for sharing your testimony. And I really, like I said, I loved your book, and I want to buy it for my 12-year-old sister for Christmas. So hopefully she doesn't listen to this before that, and then she'll know what she's getting. But yeah, well, thank you. 

DB: Thank you. 

MJ: Our thanks to David  Butler for joining us on this week's episode. You can find David's new book Almighty on Deseret Book shelves now. And as a little heads up, the All In team is taking a break for the holidays. We're going to spend some time with our families as we remember the Savior and we hope that you will do the same. If you're looking for something to listen to while you're prepping your Christmas ham. They got some great stories on the "This Is The Gospel" podcast and you can listen to past episodes of All In at ldsliving.com/allin. We'll be back in the New Year. Merry Christmas, everyone.