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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

Tennis ball ice-cream.

One of my favorite cartoons growing up was Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy. The plot line of… pretty much every episode… consisted of the trio coming up with some sort of scam or gimmick to trick the neighborhood kids out of their quarters, which would buy them jawbreakers down at the candy store in town. Eddy was always the mastermind behind each scam, and Ed and Double-D (Edd) were simply present to help carry out the scam.

Unfortunately, the scams always failed. On the very rare occasions when they didn’t, something would eventually happen and the Eds would lose their quarters, often in a publicly embarrassing way.

One of my favorites of Eddy’s scams was a simple one, shown in the beginning of an episode. The trio placed a cardboard ice cream truck in the middle of the cul de sac. While Eddy rang a bell and yelled “Ice cream! Only 25 cents!”, Double-D made cones from paper and tape and Ed made the “ice cream” by dipping tennis balls into paint and then glueing them onto the cones. In this particular episode, they discover the neighborhood kids are gone and therefore the scam fails by default.

I’ll make two analogies with this scenario.

In the first one, we are Eddy. We have a goal in mind and we want to achieve it. In Eddy’s case, he wants quarters so he can go buy jawbreakers bigger than his head. In our case, it can be anything. Work, school, sports achievements, spiritual goals, relationship goals, etc.

We may not always want to put in the real effort. Instead, sometimes we choose to fake the effort. Eddy didn’t want to go buy real ice cream and real cones. Instead, he supposed he could jip the kids out their money with something fake, dishonest, and cheap. Of course, it wouldn’t have worked. Had one of the kids bought some ice cream, they would quickly have discovered what was really going on and demanded their money back. If we want to achieve our goals, we must put forth the honest, hard-working effort.

In the second analogy, Eddy is Satan (and Ed and Double-D are Satan’s angels). He puts forth something that looks appealing but isn’t at all what it seems. We’ll stick with the scam for simplicity sake. Satan gets our attention yelling, “Ice cream! Only 25 cents!” He shows us something that appeals to us, that gives us some kind of gratification, and it’s cheap, only a quarter. Seems like a good deal, right? Often we fall for the trap. We take the ice cream and bite into it, but it’s nothing more than a tennis ball covered in paint. Certainly not as tasty as it looked, and certainly not good for us in any way, and we lost a quarter in the process.

This is how Satan works. With him, everything is a scam. He does all he can to make it look appealing so that he can trick us into giving up our money, our integrity, our virtue, our chastity, our friends’ and family’s trust, etc.

In either case, whether we are Eddy or Eddy is the one trying to sell us something, we must endure, be obedient to God’s commandments, and put our faith in Jesus Christ. I know that if we do these things we can find success in any situation.