Friday, December 6, 2013

God, Our Loving Father

Have you ever stopped to take a moment and contemplate your relationship with God? As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we have what could be considered a slightly different view of God than the rest of the world. Generally speaking, I refer to God as Heavenly Father. I know many other Christians that refer to Him the same way. The difference lies in how we take that meaning—literally instead of figuratively. I believe that my spirit, and the spirit of every living human on Earth, was formed by our loving Heavenly Father long before being placed on the Earth. This knowledge—provided one believes it is true—can dramatically change one's view on that relationship.

As we come to understand that God is in a very literal way, our Father, we come to understand Him better. The scriptures are replete with examples of God's tender care for us, much like an earthly father should care. There is no coincidence here. God teaches us with types, symbols, and examples. Earthly fathers are meant to be an example of our Heavenly Father. They may not always measure up, and some may be far from the example they ought to be, but the average, truly good father provides a baseline type of who our Heavenly Father is.

Let me give you an example of what I envision a loving father to be like. That father would provide advice and direction. He has experience that children don't yet have. A loving father provides support and looks after the needs of his children. A good father listens. He makes his children feel loved and appreciated. That father allows his children to make their own choices. When those choices are good, he supports his children. As the child succeeds in his or her goals, the father provides complement and praise. If choices are not what they should be, he may gently encourage the child to make a better choice, but does not force, except in circumstances that would put the child's health or safety at serious risk. When mistakes are made, purposeful, or accidental, he puts himself in a position to help and listen with love, kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. A loving father wants his children to succeed. He desires for their lives to be better than his own. This father finds his greatest successes in life to be the choices and accomplishments of their children, for their choices and accomplishments are in part a reflection of him.

You may or may not agree with all of what I feel makes the "ideal" father. Certainly, in life here, no father will be perfect and match every ideal, but if you were to perfectly apply all those characteristics and ideals to God, I think you'd be going in the right direction of what He's like.

I would like to share one experience I had of feeling His love. A while back, I had an argument with my siblings, on what, I cannot remember. Afterward I felt hurt and depressed. I had gone downstairs and offered a silent prayer for comfort and love. My father, who had overheard the argument came down shortly after my silent prayer to give me a hug and talk with me. The silent plea of comfort I had asked for of my loving Heavenly Father was answered. Perhaps it would be simpler for me and the rest of humanity to recognize that love if answers came more simply, but I know there is a reason for it not being the case, and it is motivated by love.

While I don't know Him perfectly yet, not do I fully comprehend my relationship to Him, I do know that He loves me. I have felt that love from time to time. As I have taken time to reflect on events that have, or are, taking place in my life, I recognize His hand more fully, and as a result, feel His love more too. While He has not answered every prayer, He has answered the ones that have mattered the most, and I still have hope that He will answer the others in His own due time. I testify, or witness, that He does live. He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). He wants us to be like Him. He wants us to be happy, and He has provided a way for that to happen through His Son, Jesus Christ.

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