Ps, Shleb is so awesome! And adorable :) She had the idea to post my farewell talk on here.... Alright. Here it is :)
My Farewell Talk – Strengthening our relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ – 5.26.13
In conference, Elder Uchtdorf once spoke about a legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi, who was known for a ritual that he would perform with his team on the first day of every season. He would hold up a football and say “Gentlemen… this is a football!” And then proceed to explain all the ways one holds, throws, and runs with a football. Then he would point to the field, and say “This is a football field!” He would walk them around; describe the dimensions, the shape, the rules, and how the game is played.
Even though he was working with very experienced athletes, Coach Lombardi knew that the team could only become great by mastering the fundamentals. Just as a new football team has the goal to win all the games and become a championship team, we have a great goal in life; that is, to live as righteously as we can and return to our Heavenly Father and dwell with Him. But how can we expect to meet this ultimate goal if we have not mastered the fundamentals? The basics, such as reading our scriptures, prayer, baptism, serving others, living the commandments...etc. There are a few of them; but most basic thing we need to establish before we can effectively strive to accomplish our life goal, is to have a strong, and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. How can we be motivated to work towards spending our eternity with someone that we do not know? This is what I would like to discuss with you today.
President James E Faust said: “We may not feel a closeness with Him because we think of Him as being far away, or our relationship may not be sanctifying because we do not think of Him as a real person.”
But our Heavenly Father is a real person. He has a body of flesh and blood, just like we do. He created our bodies in His image for us. Just like we have a father here on earth, He is our Father in Heaven. He loves us, He watches over us, and He wants us to be happy. He may seem far away but He is closer than you think. We can feel of his presence and of His love for us through the Holy Ghost, and we can directly talk to Him through prayer.
Evaluating our relationship:
We can evaluate how close we are to our Heavenly Father by asking these questions:
Do I pray? If so, how often? How sincere? You’re not going to have a relationship with someone you don’t talk to.
Is it a one-sided conversation? Or do I also listen for His response?
Do I trust Him? Once again, it’s hard to be in a relationship with someone that you can’t rely on.
Do I recognize His influence in my life? Do I trust that He knows me best and that He knows what is best for me?
Our Heavenly Father loves us very much, He only wants what is best for us. He gave us our lives and our bodies. He wants us to live with Him again, but we are not perfect; so He also sent us Jesus Christ as a Savior, to suffer the punishments for all our mistakes, so that it may be possible for us to return to Him.
How can we strengthen our relationship?
Pray, if you’re not already doing it. If you are, pray more often, and more sincerely. Thank Him for the things that He gives you. Recognize His hand in your life.
If we haven’t prayed for a while, we may feel out of practice or unworthy to pray. But those feelings are from Satan. He does not want us to pray. Last Sunday I learned that the first action a General will take in a war is to mess up the enemy’s communication lines. By doing this, the enemy cannot effectively organize themselves and work together to defeat their opponent. Satan tries to impair our communication lines with God by making us feel unworthy to pray.
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi says: “For if ye hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint;” (2Nephi 32:8-9)
I know that Heavenly Father always hears our prayers. Even if we haven’t prayed for a long time, He will still listen, and He will answer us. We must always be working to build our relationship with Him so that we can interpret the answers that He gives us.
Read the scriptures. Elder Robert D. Hales said: “When we want to speak to God, we pray. When we want Him to speak to us, we read the scriptures.”
The scriptures are the words of God. What better way to come to know Him than by studying His word? In the scriptures we are given instructions on how to live our lives so that we can return to Him. They testify of Jesus Christ, God’s son, who He sent to show us how we are supposed to live. By studying the scriptures we can learn more about God’s nature, what He expects of us, and what we can expect of Him. We will feel closer to Him by reading our scriptures every day.
Go to church. Show your love by attending church and worshipping Him. We can also learn more about Him, His nature, and His plan for us.
Be worthy to attend the temple; it is the House of the Lord. How much closer can we get to being in God’s presence than at the temple? In the Doctrine and Covenants it says “I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house. Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house. Yea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings”. (D&C 110:7-9)
Often serve others. In Matthew it says “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” By serving others we are also serving Christ. We will come to know Him and feel of His love for those that we are serving, as well as His love for us.
If we will do these simple things that we have been taught all our lives (pray, read our scriptures, go to church, serve others) then we will feel our relationship with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ grow. We will feel of Their love for us; and we will also feel our testimonies increase. We will greatly look forward to that day when we can finally see Them face to face, and live with Them for eternity. President Ezra Taft Benson once said: “Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us”.
These things I know
I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ real beings! They love us so much! All they want is for us to be successful in this life so we can all live together again. I know that families are eternal, thanks to the blessings of the temple.
I know this is the only true and complete church of Jesus Christ on the earth. It was restored through Joseph Smith, who I know was called of God at this time for a reason. I know that Joseph Smith received revelation from God to translate the Book of Mormon and direct the reorganization of His church.
I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It is a second witness of Jesus Christ; to be used with the Bible, and not against it. I am grateful for the things we can learn about the people of the Americas before, during, and after Christ’s life on earth in the Book of Mormon.
I know all these things and so much more; from the bottom of my heart! I am so grateful for the opportunity to share these things and the great Joy that this gospel brings me with the wonderful people in South Carolina!