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This morning I was reading an excellent talk given by John H Groberg a few years back called “The Power of God’s Love.” If you saw the movie “The Other Side of Heaven,” you will remember many stories he shares in this excellent talk. I encourage you to read through it.
What impressed me today were the following phrases:
Since all love emanates from God, we are born with the capacity and the desire to love and to be loved.
Only as we feel God’s love and fill our hearts with His love can we be truly happy.
The more we obey God, the more we desire to help others. The more we help others, the more we love God and on and on. Conversely, the more we disobey God and the more selfish we are, the less love we feel.
…trying to find love without helping and sacrificing for others is like trying to live without eating—it is against the laws of nature and cannot succeed.
When we understand who God is, who we are, how He loves us, and what His plan is for us, fear evaporates. When we get the tiniest glimpse of these truths, our concern over worldly things vanishes.
I learned that just as rockets must overcome the pull of gravity to roar into space, so we must overcome the pull of the world to soar into the eternal realms of understanding and love. I realized my mortal life might end there, but there was no panic. I knew life would continue, and whether here or there didn’t really matter. What did matter was how much love I had in my heart.
…when we are ready, His pure love instantly moves across time and space, reaches down, and pulls us up from the depths of any tumultuous sea of darkness, sin, sorrow, death, or despair we may find ourselves in and brings us into the light and life and love of eternity.
As I read this, my mind went back to various times throughout my life that I’ve felt the Love of God so much that I knew without a doubt that there was a God and He loved me. I remembered times in my life when all I wanted to do was help other people and had no worldly cares because of the love of God that was in me. It’s a truly amazing experience. But, as Groberg states, the pull of the world comes and it is easy to forget that love sometimes.
How does one bring God’s love back into life then? Personally, I think an answer is found in the Book of Mosiah chapter 4 verses 11-12. In verse 11, King Benjamin says (paraphrased) that if we have tasted of God’s love and want to retain it we have to do the following:
Acknowledge our “nothingness” before him in humility
Praise Him for his goodness
Pray to Him
Stand strong in the faith.
In my life I’ve found that the best way to remember God is to read the scriptures daily and start with a sincere prayer. I pray to God (well, try to anyways) as I would another person and thank Him for his love and patience He’s had towards me throughout my life. I pray about my family, friends, my heart to be softened so I will love all people and see them as He does. I pray for spiritual discernement and understanding. I try to obey His commandments as best I know how as well. Many times I feel the love of God in my heart very strongly. Other times I don’t. I believe that standing strong in the faith comes into play when we aren’t feeling the love as strongly, but we continue to try to develop a relationship with God. And conversly, when everything is going well it is important to remember to thank God and be grateful and continue on in study, prayer, and obedience.
These are a few thoughts experiences that have helped me. What are some things that you do to retain and/or bring back the love of God into your life?
My wife and I have most recently been reading Truman G Madsen’s book entitled “Christ and the Inner Life.” This is a very good book and some of the concepts from it I’ve written about in previous posts.
I’ll share some quotes from the book that recently caught my attention:
I say to you that when he (Jesus) said to the woman of Samaria and to others, “He that believeth on me, shall never thirst”; I say to you that when on the cross he looked down and back, under the searing sun, and said, “I thirst,” he was reflecting both the promise and the need that all of us have. We, too, thirst until we ache. We, too, are living and dying on deserts.
A few paragraphs later, Madsen further concludes by saying:
May God help us to walk in the light; and, when we do not feel that we have it, to walk in the memory of it with integrity.
I thought it was interesting to note that Jesus, who had stated those who follow Him will never thirst was left alone and thirsted not only physically, but spiritually on the cross when he said “Father why hast thou forsaken me?” While his enemies scoffed and ridiculed him telling him to save himself. At this moment Jesus didn’t feel like he had the light anymore as His father had withdrawn himself from him. Jesus, who was all-powerful could have used his powers to save himself and destroy his enemies, but he didn’t because he had integrity. Jesus proved to be conquerer by holding on to the memory of the light he had felt and his mission and finished his mission with integrity.
How often do we feel like we’re alone in life? How often do we feel the darkness of sin, doubt, or discouragement and cry out to God and feel that we are yet alone? How often do we just simply not feel like walking with God, or doubt that He is there walking with us? What do we do when we feel that God has forsaken us?
I like what Madsen says about walking in the memory of the light. When all seems to be lost, the memories may be all that we have to rely on for a season.
First, we need to make sure we’re in the light. In a previous post, I shared ways to “plug” into the light throughy keeping the commandments and scripture study. I would add sincere prayer to this as well. We should continue to do these things even when we don’t feel like it because these are ways to stay in God’s light and feel His Holy Spirit.
Second, we need to remember. We’re probably all familiar with scriptures relating both those who remembered and those who forgot. I’ll share a few examples that come to mind.
Poor examples in the scriptures include: Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon, King David and Solomon, the Isrealites during Moses’ time. In each of these individuals’ lives they had marvelous spiritual experiences. David and Laman and Lemuel both saw heavenly beings with their eyes. However due to negligence in keeping their eyes focused towards God, each of these individuals erred greatly and suffered because of it. A side note is to remember that repentance is always there for us, but the further we fall from God’s light and love, the harder it is to get back.
Good examples in the scriptures of those who remembered in spite of hardship and despair include: Paul, Nephi, Moroni, and Joseph Smith. There are of course numerous other examples, but these are the ones who come to mind.
In 2 Nephi 4, Nephi turns to God in prayer when he feels his strength slacken, Paul states numerous times in the Bible to count it a joy to suffer for the Lord and reflects on Jesus’ sacrifice to help him “stay the course”, Moroni refuses to deny Jesus despite the fact he is the last believer left in his world. Joseph Smith certainly wasn’t perfect by any means, but when times were hard and he felt like God wasn’t there for him anymore he didn’t give up on God, rather he turned to him in prayer and in turn received revelation.
There are numerous other means and ways given to us to remember God today. Temple attendance and partaking the sacrament (in the prayer we promise to “always remember Him”) are two more examples.
I know life probably isn’t easy for you, and it’s definitely not always easy for me. But I know that life would be much harder without God in my life and the belief I have in Jesus as well. As I’ve built memories with them, and try to further develop my relationship with them on a daily basis through scripture study and prayer as well as weekly partaking of the sacrament, I feel that life is much better. I also believe that when we develop these habits it makes it that much easier to look back on the good feelings and spiritual strength we receive gradually over time. In addition, when we don’t feel the Spirit for a season we realize our dependance on God and become grateful for His mercy.
When we’re down and don’t feel the light anymore I hope we can all remember to call upon God and keep walking in His light with integrity.