English is not his first language, and I thought he’d offer the blessing in Spanish, but he took a go at the English anyway, delivering a message of comfort, courage and faith. When he finished the blessing he hugged me, and among other phrases of broken English he reassured me again and again,
"The Lord loves you too much.
The Lord loves you too much."
Mentally, I corrected him. He meant so much or very much. But let’s entertain my grandfather’s original wording for just a moment and absorb the idea that maybe the Lord does love us too much.
He appeared to Joseph Smith in flesh and bone so that we could have a human witness of Him—wasn’t that too much?
He gave us the Book of Mormon to be a witness, testimony and teacher to us. He prepared it over two thousand years ago for today, a time when Satan has the voice of so many loud people. He did it to prove that even millenia ago, He was concerned for you and me today—wasn’t that too much?
He has given us the priesthood, the very power of God. We can command healings. We can command peace. And we can seal our families and seal covenants that bind us to Him forever—isn’t that too much?
He gave us the Atonement. The condition that by repentance, humility, and an eternal desire to change we can be forgiven. We can take advantage of the obstacles, mishaps and failures of our lives to make us better, stronger souls instead of being cut-off and condemned by those same problems—isn’t that too much?
He had to submit his Son, his purest one, to those consequences of our sins and sorrows because it was the only way to justify, to meet the demands of that merciful gift. He sacrificed his only Son—wasn’t that too much?
He sanctioned a member of the Godhead, whose name we do not know, to be the Holy Ghost. Through a method or plan we don’t understand, this is an individual who does not have a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. “Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” (D&C 130:22)—isn’t that too much?
It is too much. When we ponder on the greatness of what God has given us we can see like Moses, that man is nothing (Moses 1:10). With Mormon we’re humbled and say with him, “O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither … at the command of our great and everlasting God.” (Helaman 12:7-8) Even King Benjamin stood before his people on that great tower and told them: “Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth.” (Mosiah 2:25)
But what does our Heavenly Father say? What does His Son say and the Holy Ghost, the ones who are clearly giving us too much? They say, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). They say, Love one another; as I have loved you" (John 13:34). They say, "Behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39).
We are children of our Heavenly Father who loves us. And we love Him.
When we can believe that He loves us, then we can believe He is always with us through that powerful Gift of the Holy Ghost.
I want to testify to you that when you cry to God, He hears you. He really hears you. He’s there. The nature of how things are makes the relationship feel very one-sided sometimes. You might dutifully kneel in prayer to Him day after day. Maybe you only remember to get on your knees when you’re forced to them through tragedy or sin. Regardless of why, or where, or how often, you have His attention every time.
My favorite words to describe that yearning for communication from our Heavenly Father come from what Enos said, “And my soul hungered” (Enos 1:4).
It just so happens there is a Book of Mormon video on the LDS website with that title.
A teenager is camping with friends when a religious conversation reveals that his best friend has a really solid testimony, and he starts asking that friend, and later his father, about how he goes about having a testimony like that for himself. While talking to his father about it, the dad ends up saying:
"How badly do you really wanna know? I mean, are you willing to read it and dig out the answers for yourself?"
"I guess so. If that’s what it takes."
"Good. Because that’s the key, son. That’s the key."
I can stand here and tell you I know that we are children of our Heavenly Father. President Monson could visit, stand at this pulpit and tell you He is a true witness of Jesus Christ, and if you’re listening, the Holy Ghost might use that moment to affirm those truths to you with His influence. But maybe listening to those testimonies starts to make you aware of an emptiness you have. Maybe the Holy Ghost helps you realize your hunger, that while you appreciate the sweet, filling feeling you get when others testify to you, you are hungry to know these things for yourself. You want to be able to tell yourself that you know.
So in the video the teenager begins his search, reading scriptures and praying, and we hear some of his thoughts:
Your best friend knows, your parents know, what’s wrong with you?
He’s reading the scriptures when he thinks: I’m not exactly a spiritual giant. I don’t always do the right thing. Half the time, I don’t even say my prayers.
And after you watch days pass of him searching you hear him start thinking: Why do I have to know these things now? Why can’t I wait until I’m on my mission?
But then he tells himself, Mike didn’t wait. Why should you?
My favorite part of the video is when he’s walking, yellow and orange autumn leaves surrounding him on the path he takes to school, when he just stops. His head has been down, thinking, but then he looks up with just a hint of a smile and you know he’s just had a filling thought. Just a quiet, personal moment when he was blessed.
Personal revelation, spiritual confirmations, are those moments when the Holy Ghost gets you alone and speaks to you. Only you.
The Lord called Elijah to meet with him on the mountain: And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering of the cave"
(1 Kings 19:11-12).
Brothers and Sisters, we can’t hope to excuse ourselves like Laman or Lemuel did when Nephi asked them whether or not they had inquired of the Lord for answers to their hunger to understand their father’s testimony and revelations.
Their answer was: “We have not. For the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us" (1 Nephi 15:9).
We know that the Lord does make such things known unto us, and we know how. Prayer, scripture study, Sunday worship—the effort it takes to exercise these privileges pale in comparison to the knowledge and confidence behind every moment that I can get on my knees anywhere, at anytime, and be HEARD.
Because again, the Lord does make such things known unto us.
He loves us too much not to.
This was a talk I wrote for Sacrament meeting a few years ago.