The Come, Follow Me lesson for the week of September 30 to October 13, 2019 encourages “family members to share experiences in which they have felt the love and mercy of God.” For example, Paul teaches saints “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). From my perspective, this involves analyzing and gaining greater understanding of my interactions with God.
We move through our daily lives interacting with one another. We interpret another person’s body language; we extend simple greetings; we share ideas and thoughts; and we connect heart to heart. Although we are not in the presence of our Heavenly Father, we also have various types of connections with Him. These interactions can come in the form of answers to prayer, tender mercies, and the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
We pray and we receive answers to our prayers. This is quite simple: we approach God and explain our need or desire. We receive answers to those requests: “Yes” answers, “no” answers, and “you must wait” answers. They are easy to recognize because there is a direct connection between the prayers offered and the answer received.
Receiving Tender Mercies from the Lord
Nephi speaks about “tender mercies” (1Nephi 1:20). These tender mercies are when God helps us because He sees our need. We may not have considered praying. Sometimes we forget to pray, or we think it’s not that important to God. Yet we still have a need. I know there are many times when I have needed something, and on that very day, it happens. That is a tender mercy.
For example, I thought a pumpkin muffin would be so very nice. Then at my door someone appears with a pumpkin muffin. God understood my simple thought, and He inspired someone to bring me that muffin. Sometimes tender mercies are sent to fill our lives with moments of joy. At other times tender mercies are sent to let us know God is aware of our daily needs and wants: those things that make this mortal journey more palatable.
Once I was in the hospital and could not use my right hand. The nurse was busy, and I had not eaten all day. It was now late at night. The nurse had given me packets of food, but I could not open the food. Unexpectedly my friend appeared—even though it was well after visiting hours—to help me.
That was a tender mercy! Tender mercies are evidence that God loves us; He is aware; He is there; and He desires to bless us at every opportunity He can.
Everything operates according to law. Blessings are predicated by obedience to law (D&C 130:20-21). God, however, knows the law much more intimately and infinitely than we do. He sends blessings whenever, and as often as He can, according to the laws that exist. If you are obedient to any law (and often we may not even be aware that we are obedient to that law), He bestows a blessing. We can or will receive blessing upon blessing. Our God loves us; He is a generous, abundant God. His storehouse is always full and overflowing. How fortunate we are to have this knowledge.
Grace, the Enabling Power of Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice
Another type of interaction is “grace” or the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This connection is more than an answer to prayer, and more than a tender mercy. It is a spiritual gift that changes and sanctifies us. Jesus Christ uses His power to help us change and become more like Him.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has taught: “A powerful expression of that love is what the scriptures often call the grace of God—the divine assistance and endowment of strength by which we grow from the flawed and limited beings we are now into exalted beings of ‘truth and light, until [we are] glorified in truth and [know] all things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 93:28)” (“The Gift of Grace, Ensign, May 2015).
That is what life is all about—who are we going to become? It’s like a little child saying, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a doctor, an astronaut, etc.” When we are born into mortality, we can ask ourselves that same question. Only now we respond, “I want to become like Jesus Christ—I am going to become celestial!”
The only way to accomplish our goal—our greatest desire to become like Christ—is by making covenants (i.e. baptism, temple covenants). Those covenants are our indication to God that “yes” we want to be celestial. To do this, we require and seek the enabling and sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost in our lives. It is the Holy Ghost who ministers to us and acts as the messenger of God’s power to shape, transform, and sanctify us. The power to do all these things comes from Jesus Christ and no other. It is Jesus Christ who helps us, guides us, watches over us, and who sends us His enabling power through the Holy Ghost. Let us never forget it is the power of Jesus Christ that enables us to become like Him and our Father. Becoming celestial is not something we can ever do alone.
This need for divine assistance is clearly taught by King Benjamin: “I say unto you that ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:21).
We are not striving to enter heaven—we are striving to become heavenly. Becoming heavenly takes time. Change takes time. Healing takes time. It is a rare occurrence for a person to change their hearts in an instant. Alma the Younger, King Lamoni, and Enos all changed, but time was a factor. So it is with each of us. A change of heart can occur, but often it is imperceptible until after a passage of time.
As we are becoming heavenly, we can have interactions with God as often as we choose to seek Him. He is always waiting for us to open our hearts to Him. He is there to be our mentor, our tutor, and our educator. He is ready always to send us His enabling power.
I have been blessed with answers to prayer, a multitude of tender mercies, and “yes” the enabling power of Jesus Christ has been ministered unto me. I can hope and pray that these interactions with God are shaping me, transforming me, and sanctifying me so that I am “becoming heavenly.”