O My Father, Elder Winegar

Sunday, June 18, 2023

 My friends, 

I would like to quickly share just a few of the experiences that I have had of late and what they have taught me about the nature of God.

Two of the people in Palo Alto dearest to my heart are Joseph and Julisa Alexander. They are a young couple in our ward with a most darling little girl. Joseph was baptized as an 8 year-old and received the Aaronic Priesthood, but by the time he was 14 his activity in the church was dwindling. He lived almost entirely without Jesus Christ until he had a child with his wife and realized that there was a hole in his life. After searching his soul, he realized that what they were missing was a relationship with God! He and his wife have since been attending church and we have been teaching his wife the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As it turns out, Julisa has been blessed with the gift of spirituality. She has a deep desire to learn and is willing to take the necessary steps to come unto Christ. She has been reading the Book of Mormon each day, but we felt impressed to ask what she was hoping to learn from her studies. Suddenly, she became emotional and said that she really just wanted to learn those truths that would help her have a strong family. She was never planning to be a mother until she met Joseph and never experienced the blessings of a stable family during her upbringing. She felt overwhelmed, inexperienced, and under qualified to perform what she thought was a mother's role in a family. 

We opened the scriptures and read John 14:26 with her which says, "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name…shall…bring all things to your remembrance." We testified that before this life she was in the presence of not only a perfect Heavenly Father, but an equally perfect Heavenly Mother who taught her all that she would need to know in order to be an excellent mother here on earth. We promised her that the Holy Ghost could bring these things to her remembrance. We testified too that through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, she could be spiritually transformed (Mosiah 5:2) into a stronger woman capable of loving her family in the ways that they needed. We promised that both of these blessings, the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and a mighty change of heart, were received through the ordinances and covenants of baptism. With tears in our eyes and hers, she accepted an invitation to be baptized and receive the blessings she needs.

Oscar met the Sister missionaries about 3 months ago and was so enraptured by the first principles of the gospel that he accepted a date for baptism in the street. Unfortun- -ately, the brilliance of his first interaction with the gospel was swallowed up in the

dreariness of the world and he essentially vanished without a trace. Yet, the Lord has promised that he, "will judge all men according to the desire of their hearts" (D&C 137:9). Because of Oscar's righteous desires, the Savior would not let him be lost so easily. This last week Oscar was found once again by a set of missionaries assigned to labor in the Spanish language.

As they began to explain that they were the local missionaries and that they shared a special message about finding peace in Christ, he stopped them in their tracks by saying, "Guys, I know who you are. I wasn't baptized in the church and it was the worst decision I've ever made in my entire life." Needless to say the missionaries were astonished. We went with them to see him the next day and as he again expressed a desire to become a clean vessel of the Lord, we helped him recommit himself to being baptized (3 Nephi 20:41; 3 Nephi 27:19-20).

가영길, or Young, is a strong-willed young adult from Korea, who's journey to Christ has been nothing short of miraculous. She initially moved to Ohio, where she met an American young man named Timothy, who just so happened to speak Korean. As she got to know him, she learned that he was a returned missionary who had recently spent two years teaching others about Jesus Christ in her homeland. Intrigued and wanting to know more, Timothy introduced her to two Sister missionaries who taught her who God is, shared with her the importance of the Book of Mormon, and took her to the Holy Temple. 

While falling in love with the restored gospel, she simultaneously moved to Stanford for a summer internship. Awaiting her arrival was another set of Sisters—one of whom was also from South Korea. Are not experiences such as these divinely orchestrated? After meeting with the Sisters a few times, we met her for the first time this week and taught her of the universal need for a Savior. After our discussion she casually mentioned, "I've been thinking a lot about this baptism thing, but I'm probably not ready right?" 

"Well," we asked, "Do you believe that God is your Heavenly Father?" She responded with an enthusiastic explanation in the affirmative. "And do you believe in Jesus Christ?" Another strong yes. We proceeded to ask her whether or not she believed in the restoration of the Church and the Book of Mormon, and whether or not she was willing to keep the commandments. Yes, yes, and yes. "Well then Young," we said,  "you're ready to be baptized!" Her eyes widened, she asked what days people usually get baptized, and if we had a calendar with us. We gave her a calendar and explained that Saturday's were usually good. She then asked us if she could be baptized on the 8th of July. Grinning, we assured her that we would be more than happy to accommodate her request. 

All three of these experiences have caused me to reflect on the nature of God and our relationship to Him. He will be as involved in our lives as He was in Young's. His gospel will satisfy our needs, just as it did Julisa's. And He will always find us, just as He found Oscar. 

God has, "a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s" and is "the Father of [our] Spirits" (D&C 130:22; Heb. 12:9). Or in other words, God is a person just like you and me. And just as any two people could, we can cultivate a human relationship with Him that is personal and individual. In order to help us understand His character and feel His love He shares His exalted station with two other beings: His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. 

During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ taught His disciples, "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him" (John14:7). By studying who Christ is, we come to understand who God our Father is and how He feels about us. We will begin to see that He knows us intimately and has a deep desire to be a part of our lives (John 1:47-49; John 4:5-29; Luke 19:1-10; Heleman 10:1-6). We will realize that He understands our struggles and wants to help us because of His great compassion towards us (Alma 7:11-12; 3 Nephi 17:7-9, 17-21). We will know that He loves us, so much so that He was willing to send His Firstborn Son to die for us, so that we could return to His presence again and enjoy the life that He enjoys (John 3:16-17).

Christ also taught, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever" (John 14:16). God our Father also uses the Holy Ghost as a messenger of His love and a testator of His reality. It is through a witness of the Holy Ghost that we come to know that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that God is the very Eternal Father. 

I have not experienced any joy so sweet or any peace so deep as the joy and peace that I experience when I feel God's love for me. 

I testify that as we make and, "keep our covenants, we can feel the love of the Father and the Son for each other and for us. We can feel Their closeness in our mortal lives, just as we will when we are blessed to be with Them forever" (Eyring, April 2023). 

Though many, "may struggle to believe these eternal truths apply specifically in their lives and to their circumstances…I promise that by the power of the Holy Ghost, you can know and feel the gospel truths I have attempted to describe are for you—for you individually and personally" (Bednar, April 2023). 

God lives. He knows You and He lovesYou

Choose to believe it.

Elder Winegar


Sinkin' In—Farwell Milwaukee

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