This week, I was sitting in the temple, and a woman came and sat by me. She was a complete stranger and at first, I didn’t pay her a lot of attention because I was caught up in my own thoughts.
But after a minute of her sitting beside me, I had a thought that I should talk to her. Immediately, my response was, nah. I like quiet in the temple. I like to keep to my own thoughts.
Then the thought came again. She needs you to talk to her. And again. Talk to her. Basically, I battled the thoughts for about five minutes straight before giving in and talking to the woman.
And we had a great conversation. Nothing intensely deep and spiritual. But we connected and found that we were more alike than I would have expected.
When I walked away from that conversation, I felt that, even though I had been prompted that she needed me to talk to her, I had gained more from the conversation than she had. I learned a lot from her in the few minutes we talked, and I think she even changed some of my perspectives on things I’m facing right now in my life.
Why is it we benefit so much from helping other people? I wish I understood that better, but I don’t. I do know that I’m impressed by the immediacy of God’s kindness to me when I listen to His promptings – even when I delay responding.
It has me thinking about how much God loves us. This isn’t a new concept. I feel like I talk about that a lot on this blog.
But I want to talk about why God demonstrates His love for us so immediately and in times when we may feel we don’t deserve it.
God Wants Us to Return to Him
God tells us His ultimate goal in Moses:
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.Moses 1:39
Immortality is something all of us will receive someday. We all chose to come here to earth to receive a body, and the result is that we will be resurrected. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, immortality is assured to us.
Eternal life, on the other hand, is a different matter. It’s something that we earn during this life. Eternal life is the privilege of living with God and being like God. And it isn’t just handed to us.
We can receive eternal life one way – by using Christ’s Atonement every day. And it can be a challenge. We all make mistakes, we all struggle with trials, we all have moments of rebellion. But we aren’t left to find our way on our own.
As God’s children, He knows that we need the Atonement of Christ. That’s why He asked Jesus to do the Atonement for us – it was our only way to receive eternal life and return to Him, our Father. And, as our Father, He wants us with Him.
So He does things to encourage us and guide us on our way. If we sin, He reminds us (as quickly as we allow Him to) that we can repent. If we feel like we can’t measure up, He sends us assurance and comfort.
Whatever we are facing, He makes sure we have a way to return to Him. He always prepares a way for us to come back.
God Wants to Remind Us He is There
Life can feel really lonely sometimes. And even if we know where we are going, why we are doing what we are doing, and what we’re pursuing, our progress is sometimes slow or feels pointless. And sometimes circumstances block us from doing what we thought we needed to do.
So the simple reminder that we aren’t alone can make a world of difference. And knowing that God understands our struggles makes that companionship even more personal and meaningful.
Because He does understand us, because He has a perfect understanding of who we are and what we face every day of our lives, God shows us His love over and over every day. The pains we feel, the sorrows and confusion we face, our efforts to be better (even when we fall short) are all known perfectly by Him.
And He does everything He can to remind us that we can turn to Him. That He’s there, waiting to embrace us. That He’s pleased with every good thing we try to do, no matter how it turns out.
God’s love is so great that I’ll never find the words to entirely and accurately describe it. But I know that you can feel it too. Right now, in this moment, just pause and ask Him how much He loves you. And I believe that you’ll feel the power of His love immediately.
God shows us His love because we need to know that He is there for us at any and every moment of our lives. We can rely on Him, and every demonstration of His love is proof of that.
Perfect Love Can’t be Withheld
Honestly, partway through writing this post, I talked with my dad, and he pointed this out to me – God’s love is perfect. He has the perfect parental love that every one of us is seeking in our lives.
And His love cannot be withheld.
My love isn’t perfect. I’ll tell you that right now. The fact that I delayed talking to someone in the temple is proof of that. But the immediacy of God’s response in that moment shows that His love is perfect. He didn’t wait to prompt me. The second I was paying attention, the prompting was there.
And while He was able to use me to show love to someone else, He used that moment to emphasize His love for me as well.
If you are a parent right now, then you know what it’s like to love a little child. I’m not a parent, but based on what my parents have told me, it’s near impossible to hold back your love for your children.
And that’s with imperfect human parents. God, our perfect Father, cannot withhold His perfect love from us when He has the opportunity to demonstrate it to us.
We can rely on that. Every single day.