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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | May 20, 2018

‘We are all children of the Heavenly Father’

By By Ed Conwell, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | Jan 19, 2018

A fundamental Christian doctrine is the knowledge that we are children of a living God. That is why one of his most sacred names is Father — Heavenly Father. This doctrine has been clearly taught by prophets through the ages:

When tempted by Satan, Moses rebuffed him, saying: “Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God.”

Addressing Israel, the Psalmist proclaimed, “All of you are children of the most High.”

Paul taught the Athenians on Mars Hill that they were “offspring of God.”

This doctrine is so basic, so oft stated, and so instinctively simple that it can seem to be ordinary, when in reality it is among the most extraordinary knowledge we can obtain. It is the foundation to understanding the glorious plan of salvation and to nurturing faith in the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus the Christ, and in his merciful Atonement.

Here on earth, we identify ourselves in many different ways, including our place of birth, our nationality and our language. Some even identify themselves by their occupation or their hobby. These earthly identities are not wrong unless they supersede or interfere with our eternal identity — that of being a son or a daughter of God.

In real life, we face actual, not imagined, hardships. There is pain — physical, emotional and spiritual. There are heartbreaks when circumstances are very different from what we had anticipated. There is injustice when we do not seem to deserve our situation. There are disappointments when someone we trusted failed us. There are health and financial setbacks.

When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our immediate response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are — that we are children of a loving God?

A few months ago, Donald Hallstrom, a well-known religious leader, gave the following report: “My wife, Diane, and I went to Africa. On a very hot and humid Sunday morning, we traveled to a rented meeting facility in the center of the city. Every available chair was set up, totaling 3,500 seats. The final count of attendees was 4,100. Almost all who came had to travel by foot or some form of inconvenient public transportation; it was not easy for the people to gather. But they came. Most arrived several hours before the appointed meeting time. As we entered the hall, the spiritual atmosphere was electric! The people were prepared to be taught.

“When a speaker quoted a scripture, the members would say the verse aloud. It did not matter — short scripture or long; the entire congregation responded in unison. And the choir — they were powerful. With an enthusiastic choir director and a 14-year-old boy at the keyboard, the members sang with vigor and strength.

“In one of the most remarkable spiritual events of my life, I was taught a profound lesson that day. We live in a world that can cause us to forget who we really are. The more distractions that surround us, the easier it is to treat casually, then ignore, and then forget our connection with God. The Christians in Liberia have little materially, and yet, they seem to have everything spiritually. What we witnessed that day in Monrovia was a group of sons and daughters of God who knew it!

“In today’s world, no matter where we live and no matter what our circumstances are, it is essential that our pre-eminent identity is as a child of God. Knowing that will allow our faith to flourish, will motivate our continual repentance and will provide the strength to ‘be steadfast and immovable’ throughout our mortal journey.”

As we gather this Sunday in our various churches, or if in your home or at your place of work, let us reflect upon our common link: We are all children of a Heavenly Father.

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