I was assigned to give a talk today in church. I feel like it went well enough. In my opinion, we always learn more from the process of preparing a talk than anyone who hears it. However, if you are interested in what I said in church today, read on…
As you can guess, I received a call from the Bishop, and he asked me to speak in church. When I informed my family of my assignment, they inquired, “What are you supposed to speak on?”
I answered, “Just my thoughts or something inspired from the talks in General Conference. I’m not sure what I’ll speak on yet.”
My seven-year old daughter leapt up and said, “I know!” She got a piece of paper and went to the table. About ten minutes later, she produced this:
I felt that my daughter made a good thesis that I will expand on:
We will live with our Father in Heaven again.
From this statement, which could have been written by any of the seven year old, the following points are implied:
- We have a Father in Heaven
- Our lives have an eternal potential
- Which Heavenly Father has made possible for each of us.
We Have a Father in Heaven; We Are Children of God
In the book of Moses, we have a detailed account of Mosess’ experience speaking with God face-to-face on a high mountain.
“And he saw God face to face, and talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.” – Moses 1:2
So – Moses was on a high mountain, speaking to God – a being so glorious and powerful that Moses wasn’t able to endure God’s presence without holy intervention. God had to bestow some of His glory on Moses for Moses to handle His presence!
The Lord then made a declaration about Himself – that He is the Lord, God Almighty – and then asked Moses a question:
“And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?” – Moses 1:3
An interesting question. And let’s think about it for a second.
Some people come to this earth and have very short lives. My brother was born on October 28, 1992, and only 18 years later, he passed away on June 11, 2011. Like every inhabitant on this earth, his days were numbered.
Others live long lives. My grandmother was born on October 27, 1929 and she passed away on October 9, 2015. She lived a good 85, nearly 86 years, but this is, by no means endless. Like all who lived before her or after, her days had a beginning and an end.
Moses, who lived in anciently was acquainted with this pattern we all know – people are born, they live, and then they die. And yet he was speaking face to face with a glorious being that was also endless.
Immediately after asking this question, as Moses is bathed in God’s glory just to be able to endure His presence, the Lord then says to Moses:
“And, behold, thou art my son; …” – Moses 1:4
Now imagine Moses – who had not been raised by his own parents, but had been raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter knowing that he was not her biological child. We know that Moses’s mother was able to help nurse him as a small child, but I don’t know that Moses had any relationship afterward with his biological parents. He was raised as the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter.
By the time Moses had this experience with God, he was in the desert – having been banished by the people who had raised him; having been rejected by the ones who might have been closest to resembling a father and a mother.
And then, there, face-to-face, transfigured by the power of God to endure His presence, Moses learned of his divine identity. He is a son of God.
One summer night, when I was about 12 years old, I was sleeping outside, in the yard, in a tent. I’m not sure if it was the darkness of night or for some other reason, but I was feeling lonely. I was at my dad’s house. Now, I’m the only child of my dad’s that’s not biologically his. Sometimes this fact troubled me. That night, I lay there in the tent, under my “California Raisin” sleeping bag, and I couldn’t fall asleep. Confused and sad, trying to understand my identity and place in my family, I looked up to the sky, and then I saw lightning.
I am a classic fraidey-cat, and when I was 12, I was especially scared of dark, ominous situations like these. I saw the lightning, and counted for thunder. It never came. However, I kept thinking, “I need to get up and get in the house.” The yard was dark and scary, and my sleeping bag was safe-ish and warm. I was too scared to move, let alone leave the tent.
The thought came to say a prayer.
I said a prayer, and I was overwhelmed with love. The threat of a storm wasn’t in my mind. In fact, the prayer that was answered had less to do with my fear of the lightning, and more about how I was feeling before-hand. In that moment, I felt God’s love, and I knew that I was a Daughter of God. Though I couldn’t pinpoint my biological identity, it didn’t matter because at that moment, I knew that I was a daughter of God.
I wish I could impart the comfort this knowledge gave me. I can’t adequately describe the deep peace that such a witness gives. All I can say is that I know I’m a daughter of God. I know He loves me, and that He knows me, personally.
It doesn’t end with Moses nor does it end with me. We are all children of God.
Imagine if we all really understood this simple truth.
In his conference talk, Elder Hallstrom stated:
“In today’s world, no matter where we live and no matter what our circumstances are, it is essential that our preeminent identity is as a child of God. Knowing that will allow our faith to flourish, will motivate our continual repentance, and will provide the strength to be steadfast and immovable throughout our mortal journey.” – Elder Donald A. Hallstrom
Our Lives Have an Eternal Potential
When we come to realize that we are children of God, then we then start to glimpse other truths: our lives didn’t begin the day we were born, but we had a spiritual existence with God before coming to Earth. Additionally, after we die, our spirits will live on.
Heavenly Father, speaking face-to-face with Moses taught:
“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” – Moses 1:39
It is important to understand that God’s work is not only a spiritual work. His work is that both our bodies and spirits will be immortal. His glory is that we will be able to live with Him again.
We often hear about the promise of Elijah as recorded in Malachi – that Elijah “shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,…” (Malachi 4:6). I have always thought of this within the context of our earthly families – both immediate and extended. I’ve thought of my heart being turned to my ancestors and their hearts turned to me. I’ve thought of my heart being turned toward my children and posterity, and their hearts turned back to me.
I hate to admit that I’ve never considered that this promise applies also to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father’s heart is continually turned toward each of us. In fact, it is turned towards each of us so much so that His entire purpose: His work – and His glory is our immortality and eternal life. For Him, it is all about us.
Eternal Life is Possible Through Christ
After telling Moses His work and His Glory, the Lord taught Moses about the creation and the fall of Adam.
If you think about it, this line of teaching is kind of puzzling. Our Heavenly Father’s work and glory is our immortality and eternal life, so He works for our eternal life. To expand on this teaching, the Lord tells Moses that He created a world. He created our first parents. He placed them in the Garden of Eden, and then He allowed them to be…tempted?…And they fell?…They became susceptible to death?…They were cut off from God? How is death – both spiritual and physical – a fulfillment of God’s work and glory?
“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.”
“And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.”
“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.”
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” – 2 Nephi 2:22-25
The fall was a necessary part of our immortality and eternal life. Without the fall, we wouldn’t be here right now. When the Lord allowed Adam and Eve to fall, His heart was turned toward them and us. It most likely pained our Father to have his crowning creations, His son and daughter, cut off from Him. But His heart was turned toward Adam and Eve – even as they were banished from the Garden of Eden and His presence.
Heavenly Father, with His heart turned toward Adam, Eve, and all of us, knew that we, because of the fall, were susceptible to death and hell – the antithesis of immortality and eternal life. So, He prepared a solution.
“And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall…” – 2 Nephi 2:26
Likewise, we learn in the gospel of John:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
We are children of God and capable of living with God eternally through the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;…” – Romans 8:16-17
What a heritage and what a future! This knowledge – that we are children of God and capable of eternal life – empowers us.
We can look back again to Moses’s experience. The account of the Lord speaking to Moses face-to-face in Moses 1 happened on the mountain of the Lord, before Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. I can’t imagine Moses having the strength or faith to complete His divine mission without such knowledge.
He had to lead a people that were his by blood but not necessarily by experience. He had to go back to the Pharaoh, where he had been raised, and fight for those whom his adoptive people had oppressed for so long. Then he had to lead the children of Israel away from a powerful Egyptian force, and through a sea! Oh – all of this while Moses had a speaking problem!
If you look at Moses’s story without a spiritual perspective, all of the odds are against Him. Yet he was enabled to complete his work because of one simple fact taught to Him by God. As Moses himself stated:
“For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten;” – Moses 1:13
This knowledge helped Moses fend off the temptations of the Devil, it helped Moses as he bargained with the Pharaoh, it helped him deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt, it helped him cross the Red Sea on dry ground, and more.
When we know our spiritual identity – that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father, we, like Moses, are empowered and enabled to do great work in our lives. This knowledge can give us identity, peace, and purpose. It will strengthen us during our own trials. It will propel us to do what we were sent here to do.
If we all had the simple knowledge that we are beloved children of God – well, it would change the world.
We are children of God with the potential to live an eternal life through the love of God and the eternal sacrifice of His Son. Our little primary children know this. And we can know this. We can internalize this truth, and we can experience the power that comes from knowing He is our Father and that He loves us.
How have you come to know that you are a child of God and that He loves you? How might you strengthen your relationship with God and your knowledge that you are one of his beloved children?