This passage has served me well as a husband and father. Early in my marriage, as I pondered these verses I came to realize how much Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ loved children. I sensed that in essence, children were entrusted to parents with the heavenly expectation that parents would teach them correct heavenly principles and be good examples. The rearing of children required my very best effort as a father and a husband. This was a partnership shared with my dear wife of fifty plus years, as well as deity. Yes, it has been challenging at times, but so rewarding. And these verses and experiences continue to bless us as we reach out to our thirty-two grandchildren.
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I grew up in a home where the Gospel of Jesus Christ was taught and lived by example by my parents, five older siblings, and extended family. I remember on Sundays lying outside on a blanket next to my Mom as she read scriptures aloud to me. Mother and her siblings also liked gathering on Sundays to discuss the scriptures. As a child I was encouraged by my Sunday school teachers and parents to memorize many scriptures that have stayed with me all my life.
At the age of 15 while attending junior high school I chose to take “release time” from school for religious study called “Seminary.” Our teacher challenged each of us to read The Book of Mormon from cover to cover and to pray and ask Heavenly Father if it is true. That day we read together as a class in the Book of Mormon from Moroni 10:4-5.
This passage of scripture hit me hard. I accepted the challenge and read in my bed each night. It seemed to me that I felt happier each day and I found myself reading earlier in the evenings. My personal prayers became more intimate and I listened and felt the promptings of the still small voice of the Holy Ghost more noticeably. Even the discussions on The Book of Mormon in class became more meaningful to me because of my preparations the day before.
My personal testimony of the mission of Jesus Christ was strengthened as I read of Him visiting his followers in the Americas after His Resurrection. After finishing the last chapter of The Book of Moroni in The Book of Mormon, I knelt and prayed to ask if The Book of Mormon was true, and the feeling came over me that I had already been given that assurance. I never doubted it, nor doubted that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and restored his Gospel in its fullness to the earth.
It has been more than 45 years since those days in junior high school, but those feelings I felt at that time have been confirmed and enlarged many times over as I have read and reread The Book of Mormon all my life. I love feasting on the scriptures and I feel its influence in my life each day.
I feel comfort knowing that Heavenly Father has designed this life so we might know joy. In our pre-mortal life He presented this plan where we each would have our own agency. It is a scary thing to most of us, because we knew we would make mistakes, affecting not only our own lives but also the lives of others. We knew that it would cause something called misery, and by knowing the bitter we would also know the sweet. Lucifer fought against this plan and took one third of our brothers and sisters with him. When I have been in the depths of misery, or a loved one is having a hard time, I take courage knowing that we are experiencing this wonderful plan to bring joy into our lives. By experiencing misery from our own hands, the hands of others, or even from natural occurrences, we know the bitter and it makes the joy that Heavenly Father wants us to experience a glorious thing.
Because my father was a National Park Ranger, I spent part of my youth hiking and climbing in Grand Teton National Park. While there, I began reading the Bible each morning. I was completely overwhelmed by Christ’s teachings on the Sermon on the Mount, and realized that his instructions for us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to do good to those who treat us unkindly, are truly divine. What would the world be like if we all followed such a high path! Later, I found the same teachings in the Book of Mormon.
As I read in Mosiah 18 about the small church that Alma founded in the wilderness, near the waters and forests of a place called Mormon, I realized that those ancient people felt the same way about their spiritual awakening in the wilderness as I did about my spiritual awakening in the Grand Tetons. The mountains, lakes, and rivers of the Tetons are very beautiful. Each year I try to hike to the spot and pray where I first felt the presence of Heavenly Father and learned for myself that the Book of Mormon is true.
I believe that the Book of Mormon is a true book. I know that Heavenly Father has put us here for a wonderful purpose in these hard times. I know that most think that our mistakes will last forever, that we can never be forgiven, and that Heavenly Father has turned his gaze from us.
However, I know that God loves us. Whatever we do here, despite our mistakes, or being judged or bullied, God will stand by us and love us all the same.
He loves us and watches us, and he forgives us, and I know that with every fiber of my heart.