Our Father

Let me ask you a question. Do you believe God is your Father? I’m not talking metaphorically here. I’m not asking if God is a father figure, because of course He is. I’m being literal. Do you believe you are a literal child of God, that God is literally the father of your spirit? Your answer can change the entire meaning and nature of your relationship with God.

My companion and I met a man a couple days ago that did not believe he was a child of God, or anyone was, for that matter. Instead, he said, in essence, that we are just creations of God, created for the purpose of worshiping and giving glory to our Creator. Of course, giving glory to God is part of what we do, but it is certainly not the sole reason for our existence! How vain and arrogant such a God would be. I certainly would not want to worship such a being, or even believe in it.

The God I worship is no such person. He is not prideful, vain, egotistical, or selfish. Such are the characteristics of mankind, not the Almighty.The God I worship is a God of love, kindness, selflessness, and mercy. The God I worship is my Father, my ultimate Father, and the Father of my spirit.

Hebrews chapter 12 verse 9 says,

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

Acts 17:28 and 29 states,

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

In John 20:17, Jesus says to Mary,

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

I know that we are children of God. He is indeed our Father. Without this relationship there is no relationship. How do I know? The scriptures testify of it and the Spirit bears witness to me that it is true. I can’t imagine going through life without believing God is our literal father. Such doctrine is empty. Truth is light. It enlightens, empowers, comforts, strengthens, and helps us to endure. God is not our Father? There is no enlightenment or empowering strength with such a thought. None whatsoever.

But there is strength and comfort when we understand that God really is our Father, literally. When no one else is around, we can always count on three people to be with us and stand by us: Our Father in Heaven, our eldest brother Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

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The Search for Happiness

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi has a vision in which he sees the tree of life. I made a previous blog post about it that can be found here. The tree of life is a representation of the love of God and eternal life. Eating of the fruit is the privilege one can have if they journey along the straight and narrow path, holding fast to the word of God and enduring to the end by having faith in Jesus Christ and living the principles and ordinances of His gospel.

And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit. (1 Nephi 8:10-12)

When Lehi eats the fruit, he realizes that it is the sweetest fruit, above all that he had ever before tasted. In other words, the love of God, eternal life, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is above and beyond anything else that we can experience, and it can make us happy.

Lehi was filled with so much joy that the first thing he wanted to do was share it with the ones he loved most, his family. This the love and happiness that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only true source of happiness we can find in this life.

I know that the message of the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s church is the most important message anyone can receive. It is a message of peace and joy, comfort and security, and it is a message of truth. It is a fruit that is “desirable above all other fruit.”

The Chuch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s church. His gospel and His doctrine has been restored. There is hope to be found. There is true happiness to be felt, for eternity. If you are in the search for happiness, this is where your search ends, and of this I testify in the name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Poetic Corner: Descend and Comprehend

I was searching through some of my old poems this morning and came across this one. I wrote it last March. It’s not terribly clever, but I like a couple of the rhymes. 🙂

Of My Own Design

tension strains, wings beat

but my feet won’t pull free

of the weeds.

 

when i break

You take me in

hold me tight, tell me it’s alright

despite my sin.

 

when i lose my way

You call my name

too many times i ignore Your voice

a selfish choice, pride i should swallow

but the echoes remain for me to follow.

 

i’ve tended only so much

and spent too much time at rest

does this labor speak

for the burning in my chest?

 

when I fall on my face

You hold out Your hand

bring me up to my knees

so i can prepare to stand again

 

The message I wanted to get across is obvious. Jesus Christ is and will always be there for us. In revelation given by the Lord through the prophet Joseph Smith, we read in Doctrine and Covenants Section 88 verse 6,

He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth

Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ descended below all things. He felt all pain, all sin, and all sorrow that accompanies them. He comprehends all things. For myself, this has made all the difference in my life, knowing my Savior has understood my heartaches every step of the way. He understands yours as well, and His hand is always outstretched to pull us back up when we fall.

Tender Mercies: A Refuge from the Storm

Everywhere I go, every place I have lived, the Lord has watched out for me. I’m not terribly outgoing, and I don’t like to travel. Yet my family and I have lived in three different states, and I’ve attended four different high schools. And now, here I am, on a mission in Montan and Wyoming, away from home and surrounded by people I don’t know. To be quite honest, it’s a miracle I haven’t given up, because Satan has placed that thought into my mind more than a dozen times.

Something that has been a tremendous support to me is the Lord’s comfort and His tender mercies. When I moved to a different city, attended a new high school, and met new people, I was always given comfort to deal with the anxiety that fell upon me each time. And now here on my mission, I’ve served in four different areas. Two in Wyoming and two in Montana. Just as before, each time I was given comfort and tender mercies from the Lord.

Moving around as a kid, the tender mercies often came in more outward things. I always had a place to call home. I had my family (and my awesome cat). I made friends without even having to try and I remained in contact with my old friends. I quickly grew accustomed to the change of scenery and pace, helping me to simply be more comfortable with my surroundings. This had been the case wherever we settled down.

As a missionary, many of those things are the same. I’m able to write my family and friends and hear from them. There have been friendly people wherever I have been. I’ve always had a comfortable place to reside, to relax. Though coming to a new place throws me out of my comfort zone each time, I eventually become familiar with the surroundings and grow to appreciate them.

In Isaiah 51:3, we learn of the Lord’s comfort,

For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Our wilderness, whether it’s a trial or an unfamiar place, can be made like Eden. In chapter 25, verse 4, Isaiah speaks of the Messiah’s comforting powers,

For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

Christ is a strength to the needy and poor. He is a refuge from our storms. He is a shadow from the heat of our afflictions. He is the wall that can shield us from Satan’s blasting winds.

Each day, I feel a moment of comforting assurance that the Lord is there. I know it is the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Sometimes it’s triggered by the circumstances, and sometimes it’s random, or seems random. I can’t explain it, other than that every day, for at least short moment, I feel like everything is right in the world, and that my troubles are but a small matter when confronted with the marvelous truth that The Church of Jesus Christ is back on the earth today, that Jesus Christ lives, and that I have a Father in Heaven that knows me and watches out for me.

I know that we receive tender mercies from the Lord each day if we only pause to reflect upon them. I know that Christ is our refuge from the storm, and that the Spirit can touch our hearts at any moment and make every last bit of our heartache and anxiety disappear. Whatever you may be going through at this time, I know that it can be made light by taking Jesus Christ’s yoke upon you.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you ~ John 14:18

The Poetic Corner: Rain and Perspective

So… I like writing poetry. I don’t claim to really be any good, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I started writing poetry when I was about 17. It was mostly out of boredom. Plus, I like art and I like creative writing. Poetry is sort of like mixing the two together, and it fulfills my need for both of those things in an easy, convenient way.

I wrote this… let’s see… sometime in the beginning of my senior year of high school. I was sitting in class, paying more attention to the rain outside than to the teacher. Here’s what I wrote.

Rain

rain, rain
come to stay
i need you here another day
your ever-presence soothes my waking soul
i’ve never felt so worry-free
when you show up and comfort me
these tears of joy so make my person whole

rain, rain
touch my face
the sweetest voice, this rhythmic pace
our hands embraced in love i hope is true
and when this cloudy storm is gone
your touch forever lingers on
to fill my heart with memories of you

So, if you’ve read the “About Elder Wilkins” section on the home page, you’ll know that I grew up in Wisconsin, south-eastern Wisconsin, to be a little more specific. The weather there is rather mild and often cloudy and rainy. While it doesn’t quite match up to the rainfall you might find in the pacific north-west, it still rains quite a bit.

I grew up with rain. I love rain and cloudy, stormy weather. A lot people don’t. Stereotypically, clouds and rain are known as “bad” weather. To me, however, it’s wonderful. And it’s really nothing more than a matter of perspective. Someone may hate the rain because they don’t like getting wet, because it ruins their outdoor activities, or because they don’t like the dark clouds.

I don’t mind getting wet. I like looking at the dark clouds. I love the sound of rain and the way it looks when it falls from the sky.

Life is all about perspective. We must choose how to look at what it throws at us. We can see the rain and think that it has done nothing more than ruin the day, or we can choose to see how it may add to the day and make it more beautiful.

How do you see the rain?

One Real Thing

Speak and my heart starts aching.
Reach and the numbness dims.
Beat, still my mind uncertain.
Breathe, it begins again.

You are the one real thing.
You are the one true thing that I love.
You are the one real thing.
No matter what the future brings,
You’re the one real thing.

Stay locked within Your presence.
Truth renewing my mind again.
Rest ’cause I know You’re faithful, and I
Trust ’cause I know Your name.

I get down on my knees,
And feel Your love wash over me.

One Real Thing” by Skillet

Life is full of uncertainty. Nowadays, especially, we’re surrounded by it. It takes many forms: questions, false security, feigned emotions, half-truths, outright lies, politics, wars, rumors of wars, poverty, inflation, deficit. I could seriously just go on and on. When so much of the world seems to be fake, we often wonder, “What’s real?” What or who can I trust? How can I know what path to follow? What statements can I believe? What causes should I have faith in?

The song above popped into my head as my companion and I were walking to the library. It’s one of my favorite songs by Skillet (By the way you should check them out. Sweet band). The lyrics hold great meaning to me, and it’s a song I listened to during many of my hard times.

And the message is true.

If you feel like you’re living in a world of lies and deceit, you can find peace, strength, and comfort in knowing that God is the one real thing.

John 16:33

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

God and Jesus Christ are real. I know this to be true, and I know that only through God and Jesus Christ can we find absolute security and absolute certainty.


Pieces

I’ve come undone
But You make sense of who I am
Like puzzle pieces in Your eye

Then I’ll see Your face
I know I’m finally Yours
I find everything I thought I lost before
You call my name
I come to You in pieces
So You can make me whole

This is a portion of the lyrics of a song called “Pieces” by one of my favorite bands, RED. The song is about how life often breaks us down and shatters us into pieces. We lose the sense of who we are. We become disorganized, lost, unsure of what to do and how to live our lives. Sometimes we try and put the pieces back together ourselves, but we can’t. We struggle, get frustrated, and sometimes make the problem worse. We need Christ in our lives. He is the One that can put back the pieces and restore us.

Jesus Christ’s atonement did more than just pay for our sins. When Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, He not only suffered for our mistakes but felt every type of pain, anguish, and sorrow we could ever possibly experience. He knows every heartache, every vent of frustration, every slump of depression, everything. He knows exactly how to comfort and heal us.

Matthew 11: 28-30

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

When we find ourselves with broken pieces, with no way of putting them back in place ourselves, the only thing we can do is turn to Christ and take His yoke upon us. Through Christ’s atonement we can not only be healed of our sins, but receive peace and comfort through the course of our struggles.

Whatever the trial, I testify that Jesus Christ knows exactly what each and every one of us goes through. When we understand this, we can come to Him and He will make our burdens light.

To all who may read this: I invite you to take Christ’s yoke upon you and allow Him to bear your burdens. If we use His atonement, He will give us strength, He will give us peace and comfort, and He will make our burdens light.

 

We are the children of God.

Romans 8:16

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

It is a blessing for me to know that I am a child of God. Understanding this divine relationship with our Creator is key to receiving His strength and being comforted by His love. God is indeed our literal Father. Just as we have parents on the Earth, He is the Father of our Spirits. He loves and cares for us just as a nurturing parent watches over a child.

When we pray, we are not sending out hopes and wishes to some indifferent being that may or may not talk back. When we pray, we are talking one on one with our Father. He listens and He cares, and I know that He answers our prayers and wants to bless us.

Matthew 7: 7-11

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

We are imperfect beings, often prone to selfishness and envy, yet we know how to give good gifts. Our Father in Heaven is perfect in every way. His love for us is perfect. If we can give good gifts, surely He will bless us in ways we can’t even imagine. I know this to be true. I know that our Heavenly Father loves each of us more than we can even think to comprehend. Having this understanding has been a great comfort and a great strength to me throughout my life. I know that when I kneel down to pray, my Father in Heaven is listening with the intentions and concerns of a loving parent.

If you are feeling distanced from God, remember that He is your Father and wants nothing more than to pour down blessings upon you. We simply need to show our faith and love for Him, submitting ourselves humbly to Him as a child. I can promise anyone who is reading this that they can know of God’s love for them through sincere, faithful prayer. He is our Father. Tell Him you love Him. You will be blessed with strength and peace.