I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured when
I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is – the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, “I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.” That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man. — Elder Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:222
We know there is a God in heaven, that he is our Father, that he does interest himself in our affairs, and he has done that ever since the world began, when his first children were placed upon the earth. (Conference Report, April 1946, p. 4) — Teachings of Presidents of the Church, George Albert Smith, p. 114
How grateful we are for all the scriptures, especially the scriptures of the Restoration, that teach us the majesty of each member of the Godhead. How we would thrill, for example, if all the world would receive and embrace the view of the Father so movingly described in the Pearl of Great Price.
There, in the midst of a grand vision of humankind which heaven opened to his view, Enoch, observing both the blessings and challenges of mortality, turns his gaze toward the Father and is stunned to see Him weeping. He says in wonder and amazement to this most powerful Being in the universe: “How is it that thou canst weep? . . . Thou art just [and] merciful and kind forever; . . . Peace . . . is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?”
Looking out on the events of almost any day, God replies: “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands. . . . I gave unto them . . . [a] commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. . . . Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?” (Moses 7:29–33, 37)
That single, riveting scene does more to teach the true nature of God than any theological treatise could ever convey. It also helps us understand much more emphatically that vivid moment in the Book of Mormon allegory of the olive tree, when after digging and dunging, watering and weeding, trimming, pruning, transplanting, and grafting, the great Lord of the vineyard throws down his spade and his pruning shears and weeps, crying out to any who would listen, “What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41; see also Jacob 5:47, 49)
What an indelible image of God’s engagement in our lives! What anguish in a parent when His children do not choose Him nor “the gospel of God” He sent! (Rom. 1:1) How easy to love someone who so singularly loves us!
Of course the centuries-long drift away from belief in such a perfect and caring Father hasn’t been helped any by the man-made creeds of erring generations which describe God variously as unknown and unknowable – formless, passionless, elusive, ethereal, simultaneously everywhere and nowhere at all. Certainly that does not describe the Being we behold through the eyes of these prophets. Nor does it match the living, breathing, embodied Jesus of Nazareth who was and is in “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his [Father].” (Heb. 1:3; see also 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15.)
In that sense Jesus did not come to improve God’s view of man nearly so much as He came to improve man’s view of God and to plead with them to love their Heavenly Father as He has always and will always love them. The plan of God, the power of God, the holiness of God, yes, even the anger and the judgment of God they had occasion to understand. But the love of God, the profound depth of His devotion to His children, they still did not fully know – until Christ came.
So feeding the hungry, healing the sick, rebuking hypocrisy, pleading for faith – this was Christ showing us the way of the Father, He who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness.” (Lectures on Faith, 42) In His life and especially in His death, Christ was declaring, “This is God’s compassion I am showing you, as well as that of my own.” In the perfect Son’s manifestation of the perfect Father’s care, in Their mutual suffering and shared sorrow for the sins and heartaches of the rest of us, we see ultimate meaning in the declaration: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16–17)
I bear personal witness this day of a personal, living God, who knows our names, hears and answers prayers, and cherishes us eternally as children of His spirit. I testify that amidst the wondrously complex tasks inherent in the universe, He seeks our individual happiness and safety above all other godly concerns. We are created in His very image and likeness, (see Gen. 1:26–27; Moses 2:26–27) and Jesus of Nazareth, His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, came to earth as the perfect mortal manifestation of His grandeur. In addition to the witness of the ancients we also have the modern miracle of Palmyra, the appearance of God the Father and His Beloved Son, the Savior of the world, to the boy prophet Joseph Smith. I testify of that appearance, and in the words of that prophet I, too, declare: “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. . . . God does not look on sin with [the least degree of] allowance, but . . . the nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 257, 240–41) — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Grandeur of God,” Ensign, October 2003
The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you. — Unknown
May I suggest that the adversary will use his primary strategy on each of us, especially as we live in troubled and troubling times. He would have us conclude that God is not our Eternal Father and, therefore, He cannot possibly be mindful of us. However, the scriptures and living apostles and prophets teach and testify that indeed we are children of God, that “he has sent [us] here, has given [us] an earthly home with parents kind and dear” (Hymn 301). Just as the Savior was strengthened through a correct understanding of who He was and His relationship with the Eternal Father, so we likewise can be blessed and protected by and through this eternal truth. — David A. Bednar, BYU-Idaho Education Weeks, 7 June 2001