Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Walking on Water

Recently, some have asked if they could have access to some of the letters that I shared a couple of years ago chronicling and encapsulating my family’s conversion to the Lord and subsequent departure from institutionalized religion.  This, along with a renewed desire to experience and testify of His grace, is why I am re-posting this and a few other letters.  Some of the writing has been edited to remove references to specific people, while still maintaining the integrity of the original message.  It is my hope and prayer that this may be of some help to others who may be struggling to put their own experiences and thoughts into words.  Please feel free to use and share as the Spirit guides...  -Rex Pettingill

16 March, 2015

Dearest Family and Friends,

For the other passengers and crew aboard the Good Ship, the vessel feels safe and secure; its heading seems true, its course undeviating, and she is piloted by a captain and crew in whom it seems all could place their complete confidence.  Certainly no other ship could weather the fierce storms and navigate the tumultuous waters of this world; in fact, many souls now aboard the Ship have been rescued from the flotsam of other ill-fated voyages attempted by less able ships and less competent crews. 

And so, the thought of abandoning this ship seems absolutely absurd. 

And yet there He is, just off the portside bow, standing impossibly on the surface of the dark sea; you can see Him if you are looking, out amid the thrashing of the waves; you can hear His voice if you listen, calling out across the howling of the wind.  He is there, and He beckons me to jump the railing of this unsinkable ship and walk across the swirling depths to join Him.

As I step out onto the water, the response from the other passengers aboard the Ship are varied.  Many respond with scorn and judgement, mocking at my foolish recklessness.  Some shed tears as they look on with sorrow and sympathy, not comprehending how and why someone would choose to leave the safety and security of the Ship.  Others rush to the railing and attempt to rescue me from certain drowning.  The captain and crew shout from the deck, warning others that they should stay clear of the railings, but that all is well aboard the Good Ship.  And yet there are a few who hesitate, because they, too, have seen Him out there on the sea, and have heard His voice calling to them.      

I have heard His call.  My wife and children have heard it, also.  It has grown louder and more urgent over the past few years.  It has pierced our hearts and minds, even as we have labored aboard the Ship – even as our son has toiled on deck as a full-fledged crew member.  Yet we have clung to the railing, resisting the assurances from Him that beckons to us, contemplating the ramifications of letting go. 

But today, we let go.    

No ship can weather the storm and bring us back to the only harbor that can truly offer us salvation.  No man or men can bring us there.  That harbor that saves is the presence of God, and only His Son can take us to it.  And so He beckons…

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

And His prophets have taught…

“I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” (2 Nephi 4:34)
“Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; to whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves; that through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.” (D&C 76:116)

Yet, in His mercy and infinite wisdom, He does not leave us to our own devices.  Even as we are called to walk on water, knowing that we will falter, He gives us each a life vest.  When we doubt or waiver in our faith and begin to sink into the depths, the Holy Ghost, the words of the Book of Mormon, and the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith buoy us up.  And like a lantern and a compass and map, they light the way, pointing us back to Him that beckons. 

“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” (Helaman 5:12)

To those that inevitably will mock and scorn us for following the call of the Lord, we offer this reminder from the Prophet of the Restoration:

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” (Articles of Faith 11)

To those that feel to sorrow at our actions, we offer our gratitude and appreciation for your concern.  Know that we love Christ and follow Him.  Do not pity, rather be of good cheer.  Christ lives, and He has atoned for all of our sins!

To those that would seek to rescue us, we admire your devotion and diligence, your concern for God’s children.  No man, however pure his intentions, can or should come between the Savior and those who seek His redemption.  Know that we are closer now to the Savior than we have ever been.    

Finally, to those who have also heard His voice calling from the sea, who have felt unsettled despite the apparent infallibility of the Ship upon which you sail, we invite you to consider to ponder the words of Christ in 3 Nephi 11:31-40, and in D&C 93:1, and in Abraham 1:1-2, the words of another who desired also greater blessings of the Lord, and in 1 Nephi 25:25, the words of a prophet who stood in the Savior’s presence and desired the same blessing for us all.  The desire of our hearts is to be greater followers of Christ, to be greater followers of righteousness, to possess greater knowledge, to bear His presence.  We welcome your sincere questions and invite you to seek the Lord with us.    

We are grateful for the foundation of faith that so many of you have helped lay for us and our children.  We admire the many selfless sacrifices that we see so many of you make in the service of our Lord. 

We are so grateful for the honorable mission that our son has served, and for the message of our Savior that he has sought to bring to the people with and for whom he has labored these past fifteen months.  He has been diligent in all that the Lord has asked him, and we admire his courage.  He, too, has hearkened to the Lord’s call, and continues to do so at great personal cost.  We look forward to being reunited with him very soon. 

We testify of the divinity of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He lives, and desires all of His children to come to Him.  He has atoned for our sins, and as we turn to the Lord and repent of our ignorance and do His will, we will be saved as we come to know Him and His greater plan for us (3 Nephi 32:1-6).  We know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, and that he was chosen by the Lord to begin the restoration of His gospel and turn the hearts and minds of His children to God.  The Book of Mormon contains the word of God, and exhorts us, those who have accepted it as the word of God, to repent and turn again to Him.  That we all may do so is our sincere prayer and the deepest desire of our hearts.

With Love in Christ,

Rex & Melendie Pettingill and Family 


  1. This is one of the best explanations I have ever read. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My journey, and that of my Wife and adult Children, is strikingly similar to your Family. I hope to meet you at the Doctrine of Christ Conference in St. George, UT (March 18-20, 2017). God's blessings upon you and yours.

    1. Hello Roy!! Yes I will be at the Doctrine of Christ Conference next weekend, I look forward to meeting you and your family. May the Lord bless you in everything!

    2. I would like to meet you both! I'll be there too!!! I'll be looking for you!

    3. I would like to meet you both! I'll be there too!!! I'll be looking for you!

    4. Awesome Kathy!! I am super excited to meet you too!