We’ve been guided by our Prophet to seek truth. We want to seek truth about Heavenly Father. Who is our Heavenly Father? How do we get to know Him? How do you build a relationship with God? Can you? Have you?
How we feel about God and our own personal perception of God; who He is and His nature comes from our earliest experiences. It is shaped sometimes by the relationship we have with authority figures or our experiences with our own earthly father and mother. It can erroneously be shaped by thousands of years of religious Dogma and incorrect tradition. Our view of God and religion as a whole is also weaved into our consciousness through His portrayal in media, poetry, books and movies.
Our perceptions are also shaped by the way we internalize and process our very personal episodes we’ve had with the Divine in answering our prayers and spiritual experiences. How we view God changes throughout our lives and will continue to grow and mature so long as we do the work to develop and seek truth. As we develop, so will our view of God. He will gradually sanctify us- it is a process and where your relationship is today will change with each life's trials of faith.
One point is to be clear, we must realize that our separation from the physical presence of our Father in Heaven is purposeful. Our Father wants to give us “all that He has”. (See D&C 84:33-44) We are His heirs. Let’s say for example sake, your earthly father is the CEO of a huge Fortune 500 company and is going to hand you over the keys to the kingdom. If he was wise, where would he have you start to learn the business? You wouldn’t start at the top on day one. You would start in the warehouse. This is the best place to understand the inner workings of the business; the processes, ins-and-outs of the everyday goings on. Gradually you would move to the shipping department to understand how things are run there and so on until you’ve grasped a full understanding of the workings of the company you are to inherit. When you are frustrated with this earthly mortal mess just remember you’re in the warehouse learning the family business. You’re wise Father in Heaven needs you to understand empathy, compassion, physical appetites and passions etc…
The first and greatest commandment is to LOVE God with all of our hearts, might, mind and strength. (Matthew 22:37-38) How can we develop love for someone we don’t know? How do you grow to love in any relationship? You spend TIME together, learning about one another. For me, I’ve found the best place to seek truth about our Heavenly Father and his characteristics is in the temple and scriptures depicting the creation and beginning saga of our first mortal parents. (See Genesis, Book of Moses)
WHAT WE LEARN ABOUT GOD:
Let’s walk through together and list what we notice about the nature of God in the creation story. If the creation story were a three act play, I would break it down into these parts.
ACT ONE- CREATION AND THE PLAN OF EARTH (Book of Moses)
God has a purpose and that purpose is us growing and developing so we can become His heirs.
God is a creator and a builder.
We learn that God is organized and a planner. We learn that he follows patterns.
We learn He is the master scientist who created the very laws of physics, time, space and matter. God IS science-He created the laws by which things operate. We learn that God speaks and things happen. (See Moses 2: 5,6) We are told that GOD is ‘the word’. This means sound - frequency, energy, light and vibration that can manipulate matter. (Yes I’m a nerd - look up some videos on cymatics). The scriptures tell us creation happened by “the word of my power, and it was done as I spake”. Through the power of the Priesthood He and the Savior know how to manifest things to happen through His words and intentions. He said “I CAUSED the firmament to appear” for example.
God delegates to His children (Jesus and Michael). He trusts them.
He is the ultimate, kind teacher- He wants to share His knowledge with us. He builds leaders rather than trying to keep us ignorant. He instills confidence in His children by having them create along with him.
He trusts us with the most important of things even though He knows we will fail- that isn’t the point. The point is the experience and He believes in us
God practices accountability. Return and report.
God is the giver of good things- all beauty and blesses us with the bounties of the earth.
God has given us the things of the earth- herbs, medicines, everything we need to thrive and heal.
God knows the wisdom in resting. I love this! He works hard and rests hard. I wonder what we were all doing together with our family rest time on the seventh day? I bet it was fun! (Moses 3)
ACT TWO - SATAN INTRODUCES FEAR AND SHAME (Moses 4)
God has a human form- we are created in His image to look like our Heavenly Parents with amazing bodies that do miraculous things.
God gives us guidelines to keep us safe and out of harm's way based on eons of time observing humanity and natural man
God wants us to fulfill the measure of our creation- be the ultimate best you- with developing all of your gifts, talents, quirks, personality traits. He wants you to HAVE JOY!!!
God is generous and shares what He has with us freely and wants us to progress and provides the way for us to make that choice for ourselves. (Tree of Life- forbidden fruit)
God wants us to cleave to our spouses and share intimacy and be not ashamed (This is a whole other topic. Satan has hijacked the perception of healthy intimacy, marriage, body image and women’s power and roles)
ENTER the Adversary who tries to thwart the perception of God. He tells Adam and Eve they should fear God because they are naked and they should have shame about it. Enter the big LIE that God is to be feared rather than a loving, approachable God.
God reacts to this passionately (He’s angry) and curses Satan and sends him away. (Moses 4:20) We see here God has emotions. He weeps, He loves and wants us for His own, He calls himself a ‘jealous God’, meaning he wants us to himself with- “No other Gods before me”. (Exodus 20:3)
God sacrifices for us, He loves us so much, He introduces the plan for a Savior, His beloved only begotten Son, so that we may return to His presence. Mortality will separate us from Him. The veil will make us forget our premortal life with Him and our relationship with Him.
ACT THREE-OFF YOU GO- TIME TO EXPERIENCE AND LEARN:
God is a protector. He doesn’t send us out in the world alone, He makes Adam and Eve coats of skins. These are to keep them protected physically and spiritually from the adversary and to be a reminder to think of Him, to remember Him and to return to Him. Try to imagine what it would be like to know your children would forget you for a time. You would want to give them something physical, something with symbolic meaning tied to it. (Temple garment is a gift)
He gives them covenants to help them remember Him and to give them a path to spiritual safety and the way back to His presence.
God trusts us with His power- and gives us the Power of the Priesthood. This is His enabling power (an unseen power will aid me and you). A power beyond our own to endure, to heal, to protect us and to bind us to Him and to each other in families after death.
We are given the gift of the Holy Ghost to comfort, guide, warn and witness of truth.
HOW GOD WORKS:
He works outside of time and space. (Isaiah 55: 8-9) This is why we don’t understand His timing in His orchestration of our journey and the lessons we are supposed to be learning for our good and progression- He’s NOT a “cosmic vending machine where you “ (1) select a desired blessing (2) insert the required sum of good works, and (3) the order is promptly delivered” (D. Todd Christofferson)
He works within the boundaries of the Holy Priesthood. He doesn’t force His will on us and NEVER will ….even to our own detriment. He respects us and our sovereignty
He always lays out the conditions clearly. He gives us directions, commandments and the associated blessings and consequences “To be clear is to be kind”
He always honors His promises - in the time and manner that will be the most amazing for us. Let Him manage our blessings in His incredible way- Let God Prevail!
He will comfort us with His Spirit as we draw near to Him and hold us through our trials. He won’t always release us from them but He will always hold us in them
He will give us experiences and connections with others that WE personally need - just for us.
He will speak through His servants, the prophets. (Amos 3:7)
He is always there. He does not withhold blessings and His love for us doesn’t change however OUR capacity to feel His love does. (See Elder Renlunds talk ‘Your Divine Nature and Eternal Destiny’)
WE CAN CHANGE ANY UNTRUE PERCEPTION OF GOD THROUGH OUR THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS:
Look for ‘tender mercies’- write down His hand in your life. Gratitude journaling
Do thought work. Imagine talking to your loving Heavenly Father and bearing your soul to Him in prayer.
Keep a record during negative thoughts and trials and ask yourself these three questions and write them down.
(1) What can I be grateful for in the midst of this challenge? (2) What can I learn from this moment? What is it teaching me? (3) Find and repeat truthful statements about yourself such as “I am a daughter of the almighty God so I know I can do this”, or “I am loveable and I am capable”
Spend time with the Lord. Spend time in the scriptures learning of Him. Listen to music that stirs your soul and helps you feel the Spirit. Spend time in nature enjoying His incredible creations. Keep Him in your thoughts. In Alma 37 it talks about this, It says, “yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.”
When you are in the temple, imagine the literal fulfillment of His promises to you and returning to His presence. Imagine your personal moment with Jesus Christ; feeling the nail prints in the Savior's hands and wrist. Imagine the Savior holding your hand, bestowing promised blessings on you; making you mentally, physically, emotionally whole and welcoming you into the Father’s presence. This personal one-on-one encounter with the Savior WILL happen as you continue in faithfulness to your covenants. Isn’t this Glorious!
I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by Your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When Your face is before me
I can only imagine.
Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus
Or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
(Song by Mercy Me)
Sisters, sit for a quiet moment and think about how much your Father in Heaven loves you. Ask Him how He feels about you and then quietly FEEL all the feels. I hope we can all take ‘extraordinary measures’ in order to deepen our relationships with God the Father. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.