Their God Would Be a Lion

Under the stars and the soft pier light they stand with poles in hand. The bass have been biting in a spot where the light shines brightest on the water. Stephen has snagged two already, while the young man has pulled in a catfish. Their dad has been skunked so far.

“I never liked fishing,” he says.

“Why is that?” says the young man.

“Well, I went fly fishing with one of my friends and his dad when I was eight. I kept talking to my friend and his dad kept telling me to be quiet cuz I was gonna scare the fish. We stood there for about two hours with nothing happening, and I wasn’t even allowed to talk. I love talking. So I never liked it after that. But I’m glad to fish with my boys.”

“Your dad never took you?”

“He just wasn’t into that kind of thing.”

“What was he into?”

“I don’t know. He was really kind of a thinking man. Studied things. Thought a lot. Of course, his health got pretty bad after we moved to Utah. He could work but he was in pain a lot. So we didn’t really go camping or fishing.”

“I see.”

They are quiet for several minutes. Dad’s line bounces, he jerks it, but comes up empty.

“You know, your grandfather had such a great and challenging mind. You remember how he got hit by a car in Ohio? Spent weeks in the hospital recovering?”

“Yep,” says the young man. It’s where his grandfather decided he would choose someone to marry even if she were not a member of the Church.

“A counselor in the bishopric came to see him, and your grandfather was in kind of a grim mood. He had hung between life and death for a week and he was thinking about that a lot. He told the counselor some of the things on his mind, and Dad could get like that. You think a lot about things when your life is in the balance. The counselor meant well but told Dad, ‘Derby, the Lord is aware of you and cares about you. He’s watching over you through this.’ Dad said, ‘I’m not so sure God cares very much either way whether I live or die.’

“‘Come on now, Derby. Of course, He cares.’

“‘He’s not very interested in stopping war or halting disease. I don’t see why my life would be more valuable than anyone else’s. Heck, animals die all the time for the silliest reasons. I don’t think I’m much different than they are.’

“‘What are you saying, Derby? You’re not an animal. Man is made in the image of God!’

“‘Now, see here, Brother Wright. If a bunch of lions got together and decided to create a god, what do you suppose that god would look like?’

“‘Derby, what are you talking about?’

“‘Well, of course their god would be a lion!’

“A week or so later, the bishop came by to see your grandfather, and at the end of his visit, he said, ‘Derby, I was hoping you could help me out with something.’ Dad said, ‘Sure, what’s that?’ The bishop said, ‘I’m having a tough time with Brother Wright. He’s having a terrible problem with his testimony. He keeps saying how you said something about God being a lion, and I just don’t understand what he’s talking about.’”

“That’s funny.”

“Well, that’s your grandfather. He didn’t mean to shake Brother Wright’s testimony. He just had these doubts at times, and he needed people he could talk to that could keep pace with him.”

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