God is Love, and You are a Beloved Son or Daughter
The prophets teach that each of us lived in the Father’s presence at one time. We also know that we left his presence to be tried and tested in mortality. We further know that we can return to his presence by means of the plan of salvation.
These basic teachings are summed up in a short, but very meaningful scripture:
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Moses 1:39
From this verse I learn that I am a beloved son of God. You and I, and everyone else is the primary focus of God the Father. We are his work and glory! We’re numero uno in his eyes! I could go on about this for many pages, but I won’t. I hope that you understand this basic principle of the gospel and accept it without reservation. If for some reason you don’t, I hope you will make a study of this subject. Maybe you could meet with someone you trust and discuss your concerns and questions.
I remember hearing about a boy who had been diagnosed with cancer. A while later, his father died in a plane crash. One morning, he tearfully asked his mother, “Does God hate me?” Experiences like this can blind some to the love of God. They conclude that a loving God wouldn’t permit this kind of suffering, pain, and grief.
When circumstances like this combine against our faith and peace a battle erupts in our soul, the outcome has eternal significance. The time for preparation is past as we are thrust into a war that is waged in the inner sanctums of our heart and mind. These are the battles we came to mortality to experience( D&C 122). The outcome can take us to greater spiritual heights or defeat and crush our faith.
Returning to Our Father is Like Climbing a Mountain
In my minds eye, I view our experiences in mortality like ascending a mountain. We start in the valley and make our way to the foothills before we encounter any serious challenges. Until now the gradual climb has been fun, but now the ascent requires more effort and some are beginning to take side paths. Not all who climb continue to climb, it is difficult and some chose to delay or ignore the allure of the inviting peaks. It is easy to plateau in our discipleship, especially when everything is going well where we’re at. This is when we begin to forget the Lord and take side paths that we can mistake for climbing towards the peaks. These side paths have many destination but none of them offer the rewards of climbing towards the peaks. Some of side paths are dangerous to those who entangle themselves in the pleasures of the mountain.
The peaks represent those things the Lord would have us obtain: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, testimony, church callings, gospel knowledge, and manifestations of the Spirit. The side paths represent the struggles we allow ourselves to wander into. This occurs because we’re not staying focused on moving steadily towards fulfilling our baptismal covenant of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
We need to keep our eyes riveted on the purpose for which we are members of the church so that when trials and temptations come on us, we’ll have the wisdom and strength to avoid taking side paths and busy ourselves in things like learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth, idling away our time, or indulging in the things of the world and flesh that create chains of bondage.
For those who wander the Lord’s provided the gift of repentance which allows us to get back in the climb towards the peaks. We need to hear the Savior, his lament is that, “my blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not”. We need to hear the Lord and move towards Him by climbing steadily towards the peaks.
The scriptures are our map and compass. The church is our outfitter, and the living prophets are our guides. Those who heed the prophets and continue to ascend can periodically turn and view the vista behind them and feel a sense of accomplishment at how far they’ve come. As they continue to climb and arrive at the top they feel a rush of accomplishment and growth. However, they soon become aware that there are towering peaks before them that need to be climbed. They know if they leave theses unclimbed they’ll be missing out on experience, experience that they need and should not put off.