I love the verses in Romans 8 that I found for this weeks reading! I have had so many experiences where the Spirit has witnessed to my spirit that I have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly home that is not that far away from me. There have been times I have felt it very near and other times I have felt very homesick for it. You could never convince me that these things are not in fact there.
I think as a child having an earthly father who always made me feel loved, cared for and safe allowed me to easily assign those attributes to my Heavenly Father. I recognize that some people have not been lucky enough to have the same experiences and it is harder for them to see God as their caring and loving Father. I remember when I was potty training my son I was on a forum and someone had mentioned making potty training a matter of prayer. Another person commented that she thought God had a lot better things to do with His time than to worry about our potty training efforts. Her comment made me feel so sad! I honestly believe that we are His children and He loves us. If it is important to US, it is important to HIM. I think we miss many opportunities of connection and comfort by thinking we can’t or shouldn’t go to Him with problems when we feel like He may consider them trivial.
Sometimes life’s struggles seem to interfere with our relationship with and understanding of God’s love. We think that because we have trials He must not love us. There are many different reasons for our trials, sometimes they are self-inflicted, sometimes inflicted by the agency of others, sometimes as a test of faith and endurance, and sometimes just a natural consequence of mortal life.
I heard something years ago that really helped me put things in perspective. Heavenly Father has an “I love you” plan and an “I trust you” plan. There is absolutely nothing any one of His children can do to make Him not love us anymore. His “I love you” plan is available to us all, no matter what we have done or how unworthy we may feel. This plan includes unconditional access to Him through prayer, the availability of His word, resurrection, and allowing His son to atone for each of us so we can access His forgiveness through repentance. Because He loves us, no matter what we do, He will never take these blessings away from us. God’s “I love you” plan is ALWAYS available to ALL of His children ALL of the time! On the other hand, He does not trust us all equally or even trust us personally the same all the time. We prove our ability and desire to be trusted through our actions. We gain additional blessings from above by obeying the commandments and seeking a personal relationship with Him. WE are responsible for the distance that grows between us when we are not doing the essential things to stay close to Him and show Him we are worthy of His trust. There have been far too many times in my life when I have had to face the hard truth that there were things happening in my life that had allowed this distance to grow between God and myself. Sometimes it was my direct disobedience to His laws, sometimes it was anger or a refusal to forgive another of His children, sometimes it has been simply neglect of doing the daily things He asks me to do for my own benefit. What I do know is that when I have recognized the distance and the reason, repented and turned back to Him, it has not taken long to feel the love He is ALWAYS offering.
If we are doing everything in our power to prove that we are trustworthy, then we can take comfort in the lessons from Romans 8 that point out that the trials we go through are nothing compared to what they will refine in us! And that we are never alone! Because of God’s “I love you” plan His son, Jesus Christ, will be with us every step of the way. Our suffering in this life is part of the plan. It is allowed by a loving God who wants us to stretch and grow and become our highest and best self. All things in life joyful and not so joyful will work together for our good if we love God and trust His purposes. Not only this, but He loves us so much that He also allowed His son to be sacrificed that we may have the power of the atonement to draw on and to make our sufferings easier to handle. He truly does love us!
Reading over the conference talk by Brian K.Taylor “Am I a Child of God?” I found so many parts that testified once again to my spirit that I am a child of God. I love the quote by Boyd K. Packer, “You are a child of God. He is the father of your spirit. Spiritually you are of noble birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it. However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!” Satan would love to destroy your knowledge about your relationship to God. But clinging to the truth of His existence and His love for you will help you overcome the hardships in your life. There is so much power, peace and comfort that come from seeking and developing a personal relationship with Him. You can come to understand Him and His love for you, but this will not come without effort. You have to make the initial move and the investment of time and energy. Both prayer and studying the scriptures are such a powerful way to penetrate the heavens, to open a conduit between your heavenly home and yourself. I can echo Elder Taylor’s words when he says, “I have come to know God, my Father, and bear witness of the perfections, attributes, and excellency of His character.” My hope for each of you is the same as his, that you will “truly understand and cherish your noble birthright as a child of God in coming to know Him.”