I loved my father and how he taught. I wanted to be like him. He planted in my heart the desire to be a good father, and my deepest hope is that I am living up to his example.
Our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has often said that our decisions determine our destiny and have eternal consequences (see “Decisions Determine Destiny” [Church Educational System fireside, Nov. 6, 2005], 2; lds.org/broadcasts).
Should we not, then, develop a clear vision of our eternal destiny, particularly the one that Heavenly Father wants us to achieve—eternal fatherhood? Let our eternal destiny drive all of our decisions. Regardless of how difficult those decisions may be, Father will sustain us.
I know there are many people in the world today who do not have a vision of their eternal destiny. They have a mortal vision, things they would like the world to do differently, like marriage for example. But they lack the greater understanding and vision of what God could give them, if they would choose to be like Him.
Functionally speaking, one of the first lessons we need to spiritually understand is our direct relationship to God. When we know and believe that He is our loving Father in Heaven, with only our best interests at heart and that we can talk to Him and He will listen to us and answer us, our understanding of the world changes. We see things differently. We see each other differently. We see ourselves differently.
When we recognize that God is literally the Father of our spirits, we are literally His spiritual offspring, what does that say about us? We have the potential to become like Him, in every way. We have within us the ability to be intellectually like Him, emotionally like Him, spiritually like Him, physically like Him. We have within us the ability to become just like Him, we just need to develop those gifts and qualities.
That is also true of all of the people you interact with. Knowing that, how does that change how you feel about that guy who just cut you off on the freeway? How about that obnoxious person at church? Does it feel differently knowing that you are walking around in a society of potential gods and goddesses? Now bring it closer to home. Does that change how you see your children? Your spouse?
That understanding and converted belief, then changes the way we interact with others and how we feel about ourselves.
Taken a step further, that doctrine then spreads to, maybe God has an opinion of what I should be doing with my life. Maybe He actually knows what experiences will help me to develop those qualities and characteristics and maybe He is actually involved in my life and planning those things that will best help me to develop that way. Maybe He has a plan and an opinion. Maybe there is a right way.
Indeed, isn't that what this scripture says?
2nd Nephi 2:10-14
10 And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement—
11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
And this one. Alma 42:14-28
14 And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence.
15 And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.
16 Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul.
17 Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment?
18 Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man.
19 Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder?
21 And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?
22 But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.
23 But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.
24 For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.
25 What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.
26 And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery.
27 Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds.
28 If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God.
And even this one:
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
God has a Plan. If you want to know what it is, read His word.
Today, a proper understanding of God, leads to a proper understanding of Fatherhood, because those men will try to emulate how God interacts today with His children. As those righteous men and fathers then treat their children in the ways they understand that God treats His children, righteous behavior is transmitted throughout the generations as each succeeding generation seeks to emulate the previous generation.
I spoke to my father today, and though our relationship has been strained, to say the least, I do know that he tried to be a good father. He did a better job than his father did, who did a better job than his father did. There has been improvement, for which I am grateful for. When he remembers God, my father can be a very good man. However, when he forgets God, it is difficult for all of us to want to be with him.
I am so grateful to be married to a man who loves God and remembers Him and does all that he can to emulate Him, and studies Him so that he can continue to develop into the eternal vision his Father in Heaven has for him.
Have a great 4th of July weekend!!!