By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thoughts on a Merciful and Long-Suffering God

Our Heavenly Father loves each one of us very much. We are individuals to Him and He cares about our lives and our ups and downs. He listens to our prayers and answers them (though in His way and time--not ours), and He wants each one of us to succeed in this life and return to His presence to live forever. I firmly believe these things.

I also believe that a merciful, loving, and long-suffering God is not an indulgent, anything-goes God. There are eternal laws that must be obeyed if we are to return to live in our Heavenly Father's presence. The laws and commandments that have been revealed to us in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times, as well as what the Bible states, are those eternal laws. If we choose to obey, we will progress until at last we can return to our Heavenly Father. If we choose to disobey, our progress will stop.

Sometimes the eternal laws and commandments are at odds with the philosophies of men. That happens. There has to be opposition in all things. We must have choices to make so that our decisions and the paths we take will be meaningful and will mark our growth and maturity. Nevertheless, there are right choices and wrong choices.

Our Heavenly Father stands ready to guide us through the gift of the Holy Ghost. Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, has paid the price for all our sins. But we must choose to repent and return to our God in order for the Atonement to work for and in us. We must repent and sin no more and forgive others so that we might be forgiven and our sins remembered no more.

I am just as imperfect and struggling as anyone else. I have issues and problems. There are things that I know I should do that are hard for me. There are things that I don't yet fully understand. We all make mistakes, transgress, and commit sins of commission and omission. Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, reach out to us, call to us, comfort us, watch over us. They are ready with open arms to receive us. But we must go to Them, follow Them, work toward becoming like Them.

The laws and commandments do not change, even though some policies and prodedures in the church might change. God reaches out to us, but He will not change eternal laws and commandments to suit a few, or even to suit many. He is not subject to the whims of mankind. He knows what is truly best for us and will not indulge in feel-good policies that don't help in a deep and eternal way.

It is up to us to reconcile ourselves to God--not the other way around. God is merciful, loving, long-suffering, forgiving, and all good things. But He is also an unchangeable God upon whom we can depend--for mercy and also for justice.

In his book, The Promise of Discipleship, Elder Neal A. Maxwell has this to say on page 50:

Given our moral agency, God's long-suffering becomes vitally necessary for God to tutor us in process of time, encouraging the further alignment of our own desires with His. Even if such aligning finally fails to happen fully, God's mercy and loving kindness and long-suffering will nevertheless have striven with us, and the record will be clear. God's many specific entreaties will have been rejected because of our rebelliousness. Even though His redemptive arm was "lengthened out all the day long" (2 Nephi 28:32), it is often unnoticed, or turned aside, by many who could have grasped it.

God is Someone in whom we can trust because He doesn't change things from one moment to another. That stability is necessary for us to progress.

We should be grateful for that stability and do our best to keep God's laws and commandments, even when we don't fully understand them. I know I'm grateful and that I have a lot of work to do.

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Anonymous Pop said...

Outstanding piece Mary, even though written from a personal standpoint, it pretty well sums things up for all of us. We all have those things that we struggle with, but we are on the right track when we know what they are and we are trying to correct them.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Thank you, Pop. I always appreciate your comments.

I've been thinking about this lately, and it helps to know that when we get on the right track, God isn't going to suddenly change tracks. With a God we can trust, we can know what we need to correct and then set about doing it.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Barb said...

How wonderful to know that God is always perfect. There have been times when I worry that I believe God is holding his hand out to me and I have trouble taking hold. I hope he will keep holding holding out his hand until I get it right!

5:33 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

I know what you mean, Barb. Still, that's where the trust part comes in--trusting that God will indeed keep holding out His hand to us until we get it right and take hold. Sometimes that's easier said than done, I know. :)

6:14 PM  

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