Seeking the Arms of Love

Many people in this world lack something great. They lack the knowledge of God’s love. Many do not believe in God, and therefore by default they are numb to their Heavenly Father’s compassion, yet still others who do have a believe in God often find themselves, or feel themselves as being, beyond God’s comforting embrace.

I have felt this way at times, and I’m sure you can think about some moments, days, weeks, months, or even years in your life when the warmth of God’s love others talk about felt chilled. You might’ve been on your knees night after night, pleading to feel closer to God and to your Savior, to feel somethinganything, even if it was just a minuscule amount of compassion. Perhaps you felt that those prayers were left unanswered.

So what to do, then? Well, I can tell you right now that God is never the one that moves in a relationship. Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ are always constant. They never stray from us.  The only person ever to experience an actual withdrawal of God’s spirit, because the Father did actually withdraw from Him, was the Savior Jesus Christ, and only to make Christ’s Atonement truly infinite, and truly complete.

So if we feel distanced from God, and God is never the one who moves, we can only conclude that we were the ones that took some backward steps. We are the ones who have slacked, or idled, or straight up rebelled. To correct this, we of course need to step forward. Here’s something I read this morning in my studies. This is revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ to Oliver Cowdery…

Behold, thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20)

I’ve read this verse many times before, and other verses like it, but it struck a different tone with me today. It’s such a simple concept. The general principle is commonly taught within most Christian denominations. To come close to God, one must make changes in his or her life, changes that are in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Namely, obey the commandments and live the higher law.

Yes, it’s true that the Spirit can comfort us even when we disobey. That comfort, however, is not for comfort in the sin. It is simply the comfort that, if spoken, could be equated to, “You did a bad thing, but you can be better and move on.” It is not abiding, but it is motivating and enforcing, directing the individual to seek the needed change so that true and lasting comfort may be found and enjoyed.

The words of the Lord to Oliver are simple, yet profound. A lot of my missionary comrades like to call them “truth bombs.” If we are obedient, then will we be able to feel God’s love in its strongest and most enduring form. It will be a “Well done, you may rest in My arms of love.” as opposed to a “I still love you, but do better.” Hope that made sense. Naturally this is all making sense in my mind.

And of course, God will show love to those that love Him. Jesus Christ said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” He was of course speaking for Himself as well as the Father. Christ’s words are the Father’s words, and Christ’s commandments are the Father’s commandments.

So if you feel a bit of a disconnect between God and yourself, don’t look at God… look at yourself. He won’t forsake you, He will never do that. But He expects us to be obedient and to try our best. He loves you. He will always love you, and He loves you enough to let you have this mortal time period to learn and become like Him. It’s not meant to be easy. He can’t hold your hand the whole time, but like Christ’s parable of the prodigal son, He is always watching for us when we choose to leave Him. So when we realize our mistakes and come back to Him (obey His commandments with sincerity), He will be there to embrace us.

 

 

 

Obey and Be Happy!

Well, I have to admit, I haven’t been compltely focused lately. In about two weeks I’ll be flying back home, back to my family and friends, back to work, back to “normal” life. Naturally, this fact consumes much of my thought process. As a result, I haven’t been super diligent with my blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a missionary. It’s the best thing I’ve done with my life so far, and it will probably be forever the most unique thing I’ll do with my life. I’m sad to see it slipping away, but I’m excited to see my post-mission life fast approaching.

I wanted to make a post for today. It didn’t matter if it was profound and detailed… or not. I just want to say something about the gospel. So… this is what came to mind. I truly feel that it is inspired. The message is simple: happiness. It’s a fun word that holds a lot of meaning, and can be subjected to many different interpretations. Here’s a great verse from the Book of Mormon on happiness. It’s from a sermon given by a wise King Benjamin. Notice what this man says is the key to happiness.

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Mosiah 2:41)

I absolutely love this verse. It’s so straight forward. It’s just awesome. What does King Benjamin say is the key to happiness? Keeping the commandments of God. This is so simple, yet so often we forget it. From first-hand experience, and from the experiences of others, I know this to be a true principle. Through the phases of my own life, I can look back and see that the happiest times were when I was in closest communion with my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ, and when I could most strongly feel the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Now, this is easier said than done. I know that. Obedience, like happiness, is a big word that means a lot. This post isn’t meant to be about obedience though, so you can look back through my earlier posts, or study on your own, to find out what obedience means. What I’m simply trying to say is that… if you’re missing something in life… if you feel like happiness and joy are always just out of reach… look at yourself, examine yourself, and ask yourself if you’re living in a way that is truly in harmony with God. If not, find ways to change.

I promise that as you seek for obedience to God’s commandments, happiness will come. You will feel the love of your Father in Heaven, the love of your Savior, and the influence of the Spirit more strongly in your life. We are God’s children, and we instinctively feel after His love and His approval. It’s built within us. To disobey God is to go against what we were divinely designed to do. So seek God, and seek happiness. That’s it. It’s that simple.

 

Keep the Commands, Receive the Answers

Many have wondered how God answers our prayers. Some say it’s a mystery. Some say God doesn’t answer prayers. Some say He doesn’t even listen. Such ideas are foolish. God is our Father. Of course He listens and wants to answer us! We just need to do our part to receive His answers. One of the simplest ways is… well… it’s so simple that some people think it’s downright crazy.

Obey God’s commandments.

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (1 John 3:22-25)

This isn’t saying that God will only answer us if we keep His commandments. God answers prayers according to His own will and pleasure, and in whatever way will best benefit us and help us to grow. But surely, if we want God to speak to us, wouldn’t obeying His will be a good first step to achieving that?

By keeping the commandments of God, we can be sure of receiving answers to our prayers. And we can be sure of having the Holy Ghost guide us more frequently. However, we must always keep in mind that God answers prayers in His own way. The vast majority of the time, they are not answered in the way we expect or desire. This is only because, unlike God, our perspective is limited. We can’t see a couple minutes into the future, but everything is before God. Have faith in Jesus Christ, obey God’s commandments, and when you ask you shall receive.

For more information on prayer, you can read one of my previous blog posts here.

No more boats. No more fish.

The Apostles had given up everything to follow Christ. They forsook their families, possessions, and professions. Fishing was a shared livelihood among most of them. After Christ was crucified, the Apostles probably weren’t exactly sure what to do next. Peter decides he’s going to go back to what he knows: fishing. Many of the other disciples think it’s a pretty good idea and tag along.

Their fishing doesn’t go too well. They don’t catch anything. Thankfully, Jesus appears on the shore and directs them to a good spot. Not knowing who He really is, they cast in their net and catch so many fish that they can’t pull it all in. At this point, Peter realizes that the man is Jesus and, in his usual nature, puts on his coat and jumps overboard to swim to Him. Jesus, being the awesome guy that He is, cooks them a bit of breakfast from the fish.

As they’re sitting, Christ asks Peter, “lovest thou me more than these?” Peter answers Him, saying that of course he loves Him. Jesus replies, “Feed my lambs.” He then asks Peter a second time, “lovest thou me?” Peter answers again, “Thou knowest that I love thee.” Jesus tells him to feed His sheep.

Jesus then decides to get stern. Perhaps His voice carried a rebuking tone.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:17)

As Peter denied Him thrice, Christ allows His disciple, three times, to accept Him. But more importantly, Jesus is trying to get something through to Peter. He asked Peter the first time if he loved Him “more than these.” More than the fish. More than the boats and the sea. More than the job and the money.

“Do you love me more than your own life, Peter?” That is essentially what Christ asked him.

Peter answered, “Of course, Lord, You know that I love You.”

“Then why were you out on your boat, Peter? Get to work. Feed my sheep.”

Christ didn’t call His disciples for a season. He didn’t call them until He would eventually die. He called them for forever. When He said “follow me”, He meant forever. No more boats. No more fish.

The same goes for the followers of Christ of all kinds. Whether you’re an apostle or the guy down the street, it doesn’t matter. Jesus Christ has told us, “come follow me.” He doesn’t mean for a few days, or a few months, or a few years. He doesn’t mean until things get rough. He doesn’t mean until we get bored or when we have nothing better to do. He means forever. No more boats. No more fish.

“Feed my sheep” is what He has told us. When one becomes a follower of Jesus Christ, there is no turning back the old life and the old ways. It is an eternal calling, an eternal duty, and one that I am happy to have placed on my shoulders. I’m not perfect, that’s for certain. We all have things that are difficult to let go or put aside for a better time. Thankfully, Christ will not leave us. He has told us to feed His sheep, but He will always be alongside us to aid us in that task.

From the words of Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet,

I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)