Author Gerald N. Lund has learned that with the Lord, there are no coincidences, only sacred autographs.
"Sometimes the Lord sends his blessings in such a highly unusual way, dramatic or precisely timed manner, that it might be likened to a 'divine signature,'" Lund writes. "It is as though the Lord 'signs' the blessing personally so that we will know with certainty that it comes from him. In doing so, God not only gives his blessing, but at the same time he strengthens our faith and deepens our testimony of him."
"Divine Signatures: The Confirming Hand of God" is the latest in a long list of books written by Lund, who served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2002 to 2008. The retired Church Educational System instructor and administrator is best known for his historic novels: the Work and the Glory series, the Kingdom and the Crown series, Fire of the Covenant and "The Undaunted."
When Elder Lund was serving in the Europe Area presidency, he attended church meetings where new converts or reactivated members were invited to share their testimonies. At one of these meetings, Lund asked members to describe the turning point in their conversion. It was an inspired request.
"Some of those things became absolutely incredible, just one story after another of remarkable happenings," Lund said. "I was trying to find a way to describe these special kinds of blessings, and I started saying, it's almost like in some cases the Lord autographs them, like he is saying, 'I don't want you to mistake this as being a coincidence; this one is from me.' "
Lund eventually developed the idea for the book about "divine signatures" (also called "tender mercies" in the scriptures) in which he wanted to answer the question: "How do we strengthen our faith and deepen our testimony to the point that we can endure whatever life holds in store for us and come out stronger than before?" The process allowed him to be a teacher again.
"Once I decided I wanted to do the book, I started bringing back to memory some of these wonderful stories I had heard," Lund said. "As I began collecting those, it didn't strike me as right to just have a collection of stories, but there are lessons to be learned in this pattern of divine signature and that is really the purpose of the book. There is the teacher in me again, asking, 'When this experience happened, what do you learn from that?' 'What do you learn about Heavenly Father and his love for us?' I think he is trying to teach us something."
Included in the book are several true accounts with inspirational messages. One of Lund's favorites is about a brand-new missionary nervously knocking on his first door in Brazil. Who happens to open the door? The elder's long-lost older sister who had run away more than three years earlier. She later became his first convert baptism. For a new missionary to find his sister in a city of 14 million on his first night of tracting is no coincidence, Lund said.
Since being released in November, the book has been well-received by many who also want to share their "divine signature" stories, but there will be no sequel, Lund said.
"When someone shares their 'divine signature,' that becomes the sequel. If I can even stimulate people to share those experiences within their own families, that brings me satisfaction," Lund said. "Those build and strengthen faith and that is what we need in this day and age."