Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Need Thee Every Hour by David P. Vandagriff


I Need Thee Every Hour: Applying the Atonement in Everyday Life
By David P. Vandagriff
Covenant Communications, 2010

Review by Heather Moore

I Need Thee Every Hour, by David P. Vandagriff, is the type of book that you’ll need a pencil handy as you read. There were many many places I marked that contained profound insights.

Vandagriff introduces the topic of the Atonement by saying “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is not only for your last breath and the last day of your life, but it is also for every day of your life, every breath of your life” (p 1). Yes, this is something we might inherently know, but I love the way Vandagriff lays it out in a simple-to-comprehend style. As a former bishop on two separate occasions, Vandagriff has been the witness to the continuing effect of the Atonement in many people’s lives, including his own.

The Atonement is individual. To illustrate, Vandagriff gives a poignant example of a BYU student who shares her artistic talent with a group of elderly women in nursing home. The Atonement is service, as demonstrated in the way that Christ teaches the Apostle Paul. The Atonement is both vertical and horizontal. Vertical from ourselves to the Lord, as we reach up, the Savior reaches down to us; and horizontally: from ourselves to others.

Through touching examples from Vandagriff’s years of service in the Church, he brings to life the amazing application of the Atonement. He offers many examples, including one where his ward was able to help children who struggled with school in his area. On a more personal level, Vandagriff also shares his own personal trials. Trials that he didn’t plan for or expect, but trials that taught him the infinite nature of the Atonement and how, through grace, he could keep his vision steady as his dependence on the Savior became complete and utter.

Despite personal trials, Vandagriff was called into positions of leadership, which continued to teach and refine his natural man. He was put in positions of trust to counsel with those who had broken commandments and subsequently came into his office to start the process of repentance. In his book, Vandagriff outlines the significant steps of sincere prayer, scripture study, and drawing closer to the Savior, in order to complete the process of true repentance.

Vandagriff also explains why bad things happen to good people, how the Savior truly knows each of our trials, and how He experiences our individual pain and sorrows. But most importantly Vandagriff outlines how we can endure trials that come, whether attributed to sin or to circumstance. Vandagriff offers an explanation in the way of King Benjamin, who taught his people to serve each other. “Serving others because we love Christ will help us maintain and develop the vital characteristics of patience, humility, and charity” (p 128).

Even though Vandagriff has served in Church positions where he was blessed with frequent communication and inspiration from the Spirit, he still struggled with receiving answers of a personal nature, including a monumental question in his professional life. And until he learned to humble himself and take worldly desires out of the equation, did he finally receive the answer the Lord was all the while waiting to give him.

Finally, Vandagriff explains the purpose of the Atonement for every man, woman and child. Just as Vandagriff believed he could fly as a young child, tried and failed, we cannot truly fly without the Atonement. No matter how intelligent or talented or righteous we strive to be, we cannot reach our divine potential without the Atonement’s finishing touches.

As insightful as the title conveys, Vandagriff outlines ways to apply the Atonement to our day-to-day lives, as he combines uplifting personal experiences and insights by Church leaders and prophets. Vandagriff has not led the perfect life, and he willing shares his trials and the steps to growth as he continues on life’s path. Well-written and compelling, I Need Thee Every Hour, is a useful and encouraging guide for our days of light and our days in which we feel we are wading through the mists of darkness.

For more information about the author and his other publications, visit his website here.