Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord. (2 Ne. 3:12.)
More than a week ago, a thought came to me that I ought to call Keith Meservy, my brother-in-law’s father, and tell him how much I’ve appreciated his example and scholarship over the years. Since moving to Kentucky and Virginia I hadn’t spoken to him, yet I was a better person because of our past association. His quiet, encouraging manner and careful attention to spiritual things left their mark on me.
Sunday, I was stunned to hear that he passed away peacefully after a battle with leukemia.
I first knew of Keith’s scriptural scholarship when I read an article by him in the September 1977 Ensign of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was leaving or had just left on my mission, and his discoveries about ancient Assyrian writing answered a question that had puzzled me. The common LDS understanding of the prophecy in Ezekiel 37:15–17—that they represented scrolls and therefore scriptures—seemed previously incomplete. (The “stick” of Joseph and “stick” of Judah are joined together, becoming one, and reuniting of the two branches of the House of Israel is then foretold.) Critics claimed that the sticks referred to scepters and not scrolls, hence the Book of Mormon could not be the “stick of Joseph.” Both explanations seemed out of place to me, yet both partly true. Only in the light of Keith’s article did the full beauty and literal nature of the prophecy become clear, and the truth of both perspectives opened to my view. His February 1987 article later filled in remaining answers in a seamless tapestry of truth.
As I read these articles, their tone resonates with what little I knew of the man—his quiet example, his expounding of truth in an unassuming and non-contentious, yet clear and unmistakable way. The truth speaks for itself, as did his life. There was no way you could know him and feel his character and not sense his quiet, humble conviction.
I cried when I heard of Keith’s passing because I knew it would likely be years before I could renew our acquaintance, but also partly because of the lost opportunity. My first blog article spoke of “missed opportunities” and wanting to mend them. Now, here were two more: failing to recognize and heed an ever-so-gentle prompting of the Spirit, and failing to renew an important friendship in mortality while I could.
Keith has moved on, but I’m sure his feet remained firmly on the path I sensed was his years ago, so there is no question in my mind what his destiny is and what he is doing now. I am certain that he, along with the other “faithful elders of this dispensation,” now continues his work “in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.” (D&C 138: 57, see also all of D&C 138.)
For my part, I intend to stay on that path here, laboring on this side of the veil. Sometimes that work will involve remembering and emulating Keith’s example, and sometimes, when appropriate, sharing doctrinal and historical insights from him “unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace.” (2 Ne. 3:12.)