In the fall of 1970 I was a freshman non-LDS member at Brigham Young University. I had walked on as a freshman football player and had adjusted well into the Mormon environment making many new friends. I lived in Stover Hall, which was a part of the Helaman Halls complex on campus.
One morning, about three weeks into the fall semester, there was a hustle and bustle on our floor. The word was going around that Harold B. Lee, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve, was coming to speak at devotional assembly down at the Smith Fieldhouse.
I ask my senior dorm adviser John Nelson what all the commotion was about? He told me with excitement in his eyes, “Bill, you’ve got to come down with me and hear President Lee. He is the leader of the Twelve Apostles of our church and he is a great speaker.”
He continued, “If you come I will try and take you up and introduce you to him afterward.”
It was a warm September day and about 10,000 students were crammed into the old Smith Fieldhouse. The podium was set up under the south basketball goal. President Lee spoke for about an hour. It was hot with all of those bodies squeezed together, and frankly I don’t remember much except he told the students that “God still reveals his plans to living prophets."
After the meeting there was a receiving line to talk to President Lee, and John took me up to the podium.
After about 10 minutes it was our turn. With people smiling all around John extended his hand to President Lee and kindly said, “President Lee my name is John Nelson and it is an honor to meet you. I have a friend of mine who is a freshman this year and he would like to meet you."
He motioned to me and I extended my hand forward and said, “President Lee my name is Bill Freeze and I am not a member of the church. I would just like to ask you if you have ever personally spoken to God?"
The smiles coming from the students around the podium turned to expressions of concern.
President Lee seemed undeterred. He took of his glasses and wiped the perspiration from his head with his handkerchief. He put his glasses back on and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Why yes young man. I speak to him every night, and someday when you decide to follow the dictates of your heart — instead of the dictates of your mind — you will be a lot closer to us!”
Although rebuffed, I thanked him and I’m sure it appeared to those gathered that I slithered off the podium stand.
As we walked home, John inquired with a smile, “Did he answer your question?” I sheepishly replied, “I think so.”
Interestingly, the following February, President Lee gave a talk in the New Era magazine titled “When your heart tells you things that your mind does not know.” It wasn’t until three years later that I finally decided to join the LDS Church.
Dr. Joseph Wood, one of my religion teachers, took my fiancée Linda Gourley and I to general conference. Dr. Wood had arranged to have special visitor passes for us. Linda and I, along with Dr. Wood and his wife, sat on the third row in the Tabernacle, while the prophet of the church spoke to entire congregation. This time his words penetrated my soul and the Holy Ghost spoke to me: "You are doing the right thing. You are listening to a prophet of God!"
The following Saturday, Oct. 13, 1973, I was baptized by Dr. Wood, and Dr. Ed J. Pinegar conferred the gift of Holy Ghost upon me.
It was a wonderful feeling to accept the responsibility of membership in the Lord’s church, and I was eager to learn the principles of the gospel and apply them in my life.Comment on this story
A little more than two months later President Lee died unexpectedly right after Christmas.
Some had said that he had worked at such a vigorous pace in his new calling as prophet that he had worn himself out. I don’t think so. I think he knew who he was and was totally committed to doing the Lord’s work. I believe he was just following the dictates of his own heart.
Bill Freeze is a high priest instructor in the Lindon 23rd Ward, Lindon Utah West Stake. He and his wife Linda have five married daughters and 13 grandchildren.