Perhaps this will be the most significant article I will ever write…perhaps.
I think we all feel like our parents’ favorite. I hope you do. Everyone deserves to be cherished and loved. Each one of us is worthy of such devotion.
It has been my good fortune to have many daughters. They are choice spirits in my eyes. Lucky for me, they have followed good principles in their lives and become a great blessing to myself and my wife. Their goodness extends far beyond our family alone, however. They beautify and lift everywhere they go. We are all strengthened in their presence and buoyed-up by their contributions and love.
Naturally, I want for them the very best possible. Despite the challenges of this life, I am strengthened by the knowledge that my Heavenly Father is mindful of them and He too wants what is in their best interest. I am comforted by the parable of the debtor.
Jesus taught the parable of the unforgiving servant. A man owed a large debt to his king. When he begged for mercy, the king was moved with compassion and forgave the debt. But when a fellow servant owed him a much smaller debt, this man took his debtor and cast him into prison until he should pay it. We can learn many things from this parable.
When the unforgiving servant was brought to judgment, the king asked him why he did not have compassion on his fellow servant, even as the king had pity on this debtor. We are taught that we should extend forgiveness to all, but we also learn that our Heavenly Father wants to forgive us of our debt. Because of his Son, Jesus Christ, we can be exonerated of the lasting effects of our sins and qualify for Exaltation. We also learn, that our Heavenly Father has a great reward for the faithful.
But what about the wayward?
The Great Plan of Happiness was made for all men in whatever circumstance they find themselves. Forgive me for the personal anecdote, but my father taught me a great lesson during his life. There was a time when a trusted friend betrayed him. He was justifiably hurt and the wound was great, both economically and emotionally.
But rather than let that deed dictate his reaction, he looked to the example of Jesus Christ and asked himself “What would He do?” The answer was obvious, and his response both lifted his adversary and himself to a higher plane. It probably helped many others who witnessed this gesture as this action has blessed me in my life.
You see, we have been offered a plan, a circumstance, a deal if you will that can deliver something much better than our fondest dream or our warmest imagination. This investment will produce a return beyond anything earthly or even within our ability to imagine.
But God will force no man to heaven. We all have our free agency, and our Father in Heaven holds that endowment sacred. Next to the gift of life itself is the power to direct that life and make choices of our own accord.
“Know this, that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be,
For this eternal truth is given
That God will force no man to heav’n.
He’ll call, persuade, direct aright.
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.”
—Hymns, No. 90
When I was a young man growing up in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, my father would take us boys to fathers-and-sons outings on occasion. This was a significant memory from my childhood that I still treasure today.
One of my vivid memories during that time was the fantastic display of stars in the sky that were easy to see and brilliant to behold. Unlike the skyline that was common in and around the city, at these events in the mountains, we were able to behold an aura of miraculous heavenly bodies that we referred to as the Milky Way.
Later, when we moved to the farming community of Castle Valley, this brilliant display was a near nightly occurrence. In fact, during the summertime, we would lie on a blanket for hours and watch the myriad of constellations and the band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars.
The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our solar system. And the description “milky” is derived from the appearance of the galaxy from earth. I was young then, and it blew my mind then that each one of those stars is actually the sun of another solar system. That is a lot of stars, and the universe goes on forever.
No wonder men like Aristotle, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Oort, and Hubble sought to make tremendous strides in their day regarding the immensity of space and the breadth and relative size of the universe. But even with the vast enormity of our universe and countless others, God’s children are numbered to him. From Moses chapter 1 we read:
37. And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
38. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
39. For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
With that understanding and the billions of people on this earth alone, no wonder some of us feel lost within the mass of humanity. But those are temporal, finite feelings of a child, who has not the wisdom or capacity to understand or even comprehend the breadth and specificity of the empathy, wisdom, and love of his parent. The Father hath said his work and glory is the fulfillment our fondest dream. But like a child, we have not the capacity to even understand what that is…yet.
Jesus Christ is our Advocate and Friend. So we rely on him in faith. And even with the understanding of the size and capacity of our universe, our circumstances, and current difficulties, he is mindful of us and has the solution to all our problems.
I have one more allegory to share with you. It is not of my making, but it is His who understands all things. From Matthew chapter 7 we read:
7. Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
8. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
9. Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?
10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
These are not idle words from one who doesn’t care. This is the promise of Someone who knows and cares and loves us and has prepared for us a way to come home. Like the incomprehensibility of the universe, it may be difficult for us to fathom how the truths of the gospel can help us out in our times of hardship and need, but they can.
If my wish is to help my family reach its potential and have happiness in life, how much greater is his desire for all of us, his children, to experience true joy. This is not hard for him to comprehend. It is his plan.
Yes. We can all be forgiven and return home.
Each one of us.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.