There are No Coincidences, God is in Charge

Family history, an ancestor, and a dilemma

Jesus healing the blind

A short time after I had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I began researching my family history and had many experiences which could be easily described as coincidences.

One day while visiting my uncle, his housekeeper brought out a scribbler which she had been keeping since her teenage years. It contained records of obituaries from the local newspapers of people she had known and others from the local communities. This had started as a request from a lady who was going away on vacation and wanted to keep up with this information. As a result, it had become a lifelong hobby for the housekeeper.

Journal writing

As I searched through this scribbler, I noticed some deaths in 1920 that were all together on the same day and in the same community. As I asked her about these deaths, she explained about a mass murder that had occurred in this small community.

The story was about Veinot ancestor, a man in his sixties who had killed his father, the man and his wife next door, and the man in the next home, before coming back home and killing himself.

Reading scriptures

In further research, I came across the newspaper accounts of this incident, and I made the decision that I would not do the temple work for this deceased relative because I felt he was not “worthy” of the opportunities that receiving the temple ordinances would give to him on the other side of the veil, if he chose to accept them.

Over the years this story kept coming back to my mind, and I received more information during my research and my desire to help other ancestors to receive the ordinances of the temple.

One of my favorite scriptures has always been, And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).


A troubling ancestor, the Spirit and me

I had become an ordinance worker in the Canada Halifax Temple and came to enjoy both acting as a proxy for my ancestors, and assisting others coming to the temple to perform ordinances for their kindred dead. But still I did not feel this ancestor would ever have any judgment except to outer darkness.

One day while working at the temple, I was assigned to assist patrons. There was a full complement of workers nearby, and after assisting several patrons, I received the proxy card of the next patron. As I looked at the card, I read the name of this particular Veinot ancestor. I was stunned. What could I do?

Jesus Mary and Martha

Suddenly, the Spirit whispered to me, “Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” or as Joseph Smith has translated, “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment” (Matthew 7:1-2).

Why had that patron, with his proxy card, come to me? I would have been the only one to know about him. I immediately knew that this was not a coincidence. In a way only Heavenly Father would understand, I was being taught an important lesson. Whether the person is on this side of the veil or the other, we are not to judge. Only the Savior in His infinite wisdom will understand the heart of a man and with compassion and pure love, through His Atonement, know how to judge.

Jesus healing the blind

Afterwards I met up with the brother who had given me the proxy card and talked to him. He had no knowledge of the story. I expressed gratitude to my friend who had done the temple work for this ancestor, realizing that everybody deserved the opportunity to be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make his or her own decision whether to accept or reject it and thus progress or not.


The duty of eternal judgment does not belong to mankind

Over the years, this experience has helped me to better understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It has helped me to look at all people I meet as a fellow child of God and as such, recognize my divine potential and also their divine potential.

I know that I am far from perfect, but as I travel the covenant path, I am reminded of the fact that we must do all we can to help those on both sides of the veil to reach their full potential. As Joseph Smith has written in a letter:

Joseph Smith

“And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:15).

How often since that experience have I heard the expression, “There are no coincidences in the temple.” I know that Heavenly Father is in charge. He has allowed me many times to be an instrument in helping others, and He has allowed others to be an instrument in helping me.

Whenever I hear someone say, “Isn’t that a coincidence?” I smile. I know that Heavenly Father is smiling also.