Heavenly Attributes of Fathers
I was asked to speak in church for Father’s Day. This is the talk I wrote and gave.
Something exciting has recently happened in our household . . . . . we welcomed eight baby chicks into our family. My husband often comes home from work and when walking through the door asks, “How are my babies?” – wanting to know how our fluffy little chicks are doing. Seeing my husband care for these baby chicks has reminded me of the fatherly attributes I so admire in him.
Fathers are Hard Working Providers
Before we bought the chicks my husband had to research and plan. He had to plan how to provide for them . . . the shelter they would need, find a good design for their future home, their chicken coop. He gathered the materials necessary. Once the planning had begun and he knew he could provide everything necessary, he brought the chickens home. Baby chicks are very vulnerable when they’re new. They can be easily hurt, they can die if left in a draft. They like to be at a comfortable 95 degrees with plenty of food and water. Knowing the chicks’ vulnerabilities – we’ve kept them in our garage- a temporary home- where they are safe and protected from the harshness of the world.
We are caring for them in this temporary home and until they are strong enough to move outdoors and work through life on their own. As they are growing stronger my husband has been hard at creating more permanent home for them . He has been building the chicken coop where they will live out the remainder of their lives and though they are moving out of the garage . . . my husband will continue to make sure all their needs are met.
Just as my husband had to devise a plan to provide for our chicks, he did so for our children. Like our mortal fathers, our Heavenly Father had to work hard to plan, prepare and provide for us. He had to figure out where we would live and make sure that we would have a home as well as all the things necessary for our progression.
In 1909 The Presidency of The Church, under Joseph F. Smith published a statement titled, “The Origin of Man”. In it they shared :
“‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.’ [Genesis 1:27.] In these plain and pointed words the inspired author of the book of Genesis made known to the world the truth concerning the origin of the human family.” 1
Spirits are “begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father.” 31~“Origin of Man,” p. 205. (1909 Presidency of the Church under Joseph F. Smith)
God is our literal father. Our Heavenly parents created our spirit bodies and helped us mature in the pre-existence until we were ready to come to Earth. Just as my husband has provided the chicks a temporary and well protected home in the garage for our chicks to mature – so too did our Heavenly Father aid us in our growth until we were ready to come to Earth. In his plan to provide for us it was determined that a mortal home would be needed to provide us a home to learn and grow. So, through instruction the world was created for our benefit and now that we are here our Heavenly Father continues to provide for us by pouring out innumerable blessings.
The hard work that our mortal fathers take on to provide for us gives a glimpse of the work our Eternal Father has performed and continues to perform on our behalf.
Fathers Protect Us
Knowing that there are many things that can harm the baby chicks, my husband has taken great care to provide them with things to help protect them . . . like the fencing that surrounds their little home – keeping them out of harm.
Fathers try very hard to protect their children – by giving them boundaries. I remember as a kid that my Dad had rules for how far I could ride my bike so that he could keep me safe or be there in an instant should I get hurt. As I got older my Dad always wanted to know where I was, who I was with and what I was doing. While it was sometimes annoying to have to account for most everything to my father, I knew that doing so was my Dad’s way of watching over me.
Just as our mortal fathers try to create boundaries and protections for us, so does our Father in Heaven. Knowing he couldn’t be here on Earth with us, he provided us with boundaries to help protect us. He gave us the commandments. He gave us the gospel and the scriptures. In essence, he gave us his protective armor – the “Armor of God”.
15Wherefore, alift up your hearts and brejoice, and cgird up your loins, and take upon you my whole darmor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able toestand.
16Stand, therefore, having your loins agirt about with btruth, having on the cbreastplate of drighteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the egospel of fpeace, which I have sent mine gangels to commit unto you;
17Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the afiery darts of the wicked;
18And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my aSpirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be bcaught up, that where I am ye shall be calso. Amen.
If we honor and obey our parents . . . mortal and eternal, we will be granted certain protections in this life.
Fathers are Teachers and Guides
Of course, the greatest protection that a father can give us is by teaching us right from wrong. Dads do this – by word and by example. Good fathers teach us principles that will help us be successful in life. They also try to teach us by making good choices themselves, by setting an example. Sure they mess up sometimes, but we all do.
We don’t always listen to our fathers and they know that this is part of learning. They have to allow us to stumble and fall so we understand the merit of good choices and the consequences of bad ones. One of the hardest things about being a parent is allowing children to make their own decisions, especially since we know that some of those decisions will bring our children pain.
As our mortal fathers teach and guide us, so does our Father in Heaven. God knew it was essential for us to not only come to this Earth – but also to be tested in learning right from wrong. He provided us the opportunity to exercise moral agency so we could continue to grow and develop.
It was necessary in God’s plan for our future happiness and glory that we become morally free and responsible. For that to happen, we needed an experience apart from Him where our choices would determine our destiny.[. . . ] The gift of agency is intended to give us experience. We “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good” (Moses 6:55). [. . . ] With His gift of moral agency, our Heavenly Father has graciously provided us help to exercise that agency in a way that will yield precious, positive fruit in our life here and hereafter.
~D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Agency” Jan. 2006 – BYU Devotional Address
Just as it pains our mortal fathers when we stumble, so too does it pain our Heavenly Father; He joys in our successes and aches in our trials. When Christ died on the cross he lamented the pain of his Only Begotten Son – so much that the Earth quaked in his fury and pain. He feels the same way about each of us. Knowing that He provided us agency, God has provided us with many aids to help guide and teach us through this mortal journey.
Our greatest guide, of course is Jesus Christ. He brought us the gospel in His mortal ministry and through His atonement we’ve been provided a way to return to our Heavenly Father – in spite of our mortal mistakes.
Heavenly Father not only provided us with the gospel and a Savior to help guide us in this life, but he also provided us a teacher through the Holy Ghost. Even though Heavenly Father can’t be with us, He can speak to and guide us on a personal level through the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we learn to choose right from wrong the Holy Ghost can testify of these choices and guide us to better paths.
A Father’s Joy
One of my husband’s favorite things to do right now is go out and observe our little chicks. Sometimes we’ll go out there and find that we’ve lost an hour of time because we’ve had so much fun seeing the little things they do and observing how they’re growing. We like to watch how they play together – how they like to stretch their legs and wings when they first get up – which chicks are getting their tail feathers and so forth.
Your Dads love to watch you grow. I asked my husband the other day what his favorite thing about being a father is and he told me it was simply to see the way our children are developing – growing. The personalities, the people they are becoming, the way they love their family and hold true to good values. My kids aren’t always aware of the joy my husband has in seeing them grow. I’ll often look over and catch him quietly smiling or laughing to himself as he observes and marvels at the things they are doing. I see the love in his eyes for them. Your fathers love you a great deal and take great pride in the people you are becoming. They love you no matter where you are or what you are doing and have joy in you. They observe you, even when you are unaware. They see you – to your heart – they see the potential you have, the talents you are developing, and the choices that you are making.
Dads love it when we take the time to confide in them and turn to them for guidance. Fathers like to feel invited to be a part of our lives – mostly because they love having that relationship with us. They like to hear from us . . . .and have us share our experiences with them . . . even when we’ve moved out and are living our lives far from them. Just because we’ve moved away doesn’t mean that we’re no longer they’re children or that they’re no longer our dads. They’ll always worry and care for us.
Although he is in Heaven, we can be sure that God is watching over us and is aware of each and every one of us. When he appeared to Joseph Smith in the Grove he called Joseph by name. He knows each of us by name. He knows our dreams, goals, he sees our potential, the people we are becoming and the people we have yet to become.
Even though we are far from Him, our Heavenly Father has not forgotten us. We may have “moved out” but he is still our Father and loves to hear from us.
At my house, we’ve been working on saying our personal morning and evening prayers. Even four year old is working on saying his personal prayers. The other morning he forgot. I could see him playing on my bed while I stood in the adjacent bathroom, putting on my makeup. Amidst playing, he suddenly remembered that he forgot to say his morning prayer.
I suggested he do it right away before he forgot. So he stopped playing, folded his arms, closed his eyes, knelt on my bed and said a very short prayer and quickly resumed playing. I asked him, “Are you done? Is that all you have to say to Heavenly Father? You know, He really likes it when you pray and talk to Him because He misses you.”
Surprised at this my son asked, “He misses me?”
“Yes,” I said, “before you came to Earth to live with me and be my little boy – you were with Heavenly Father. He can’t be with you here on Earth, so He misses you very much.”
Again, he asked in amazement, “He misses me?”
“Yes.” I replied.
My son then got back on his knees to say another little prayer.
I’m sure our Heavenly Father misses us just us our Earthly fathers do when we go away, and just as our Dads love to hear from us, so does God.
I am grateful that I have been sent here to Earth and was born of goodly parents. I’m grateful that Heavenly Father cared enough for us to provide us a home with every needful thing including a Savior to guide and atone for us, the gospel, the Holy Ghost as our teacher, our families, and exemplary fathers.
As we study the gospel and look to Savior and the attributes of our righteous mortal Fathers, we’ll better understand our Heavenly Father: who He is, how He cares for us, and perhaps more importantly who we are and what we may become. We truly are sons and daughters of God and with that comes divine potential. As we better understand Heavenly Father and his attributes, we will better understand our individual worth and potential.
3 Ne. 27:27