Monday, May 19, 2008

Things My Father Taught Me

By Randal S. Chase

As Father's Day approaches, I thought I might share with you just one of the special experiences I had with my father when I was a young boy. This version of the story is contained in Volume 3 of my "Making Precious Things Plain" series under the discussion of Moroni concerning God's majesty and power.

Mormon 9:15–17 The mighty power of our God. If people have "imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles," Moroni asks them, "have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles" (v. 15). Everything God has created is "marvelous in our eyes" and "who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?"(v. 16). God is more knowledgeable than all of us, and by the glance of His eye can move and shape worlds, let alone mountains. "By his word the heaven and the earth [were created]," and "by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and "by the power of his word have miracles been wrought" (v. 17).

Moroni’s words here are reminiscent of the words to the famous Christian hymn "How Great Thou Art," which celebrates God’s marvelous creations as well as the atonement. The first two verses are particularly in tune with the words of Moroni.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.

I will never forget the experience of laying in the fields south of Levan, Utah, with my father one summer. As a "dry farmer," he was allowed only a few watering turns each year, and on this occasion he took me, his young son, with him. At night, we would eat a picnic supper on spread-out blankets in those fields and the bed down for the night under the vast star-filled skies. My appreciation for the power and majesty of God was born in those fields as my father explained to me that all of those thousands of stars were made by a mighty being who was also my Heavenly Father, and by His Son Jesus Christ, and that they knew me by name. The feeling I felt then still fills my heart with awe and gratitude.

The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of similar feelings he had as a young boy: "I looked upon the sun, the glorious luminary of the earth, and also the moon, rolling in their majesty through the heavens; also the stars, shining in their courses, and the earth upon which I stood; and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters; and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in majesty, and in the strength of beauty, whose power and intelligence in governing...things [is] so exceedingly great and marvelous, even in the likeness of Him who created them. When I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed, ‘Well hath the wise man said it is a fool that saith in his heart ‘there is no God.’ My heart exclaimed, ‘All these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipresent power.’" (A History of the life of Joseph Smith, Jr.. Joseph Smith's first and, so far as it is known, only attempt to record the events of his first vision in his own hand. Original is housed in the archives of the Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also in Scott H. Faulring, The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, 5.)

As I have grown older and more educated, my respect for the majesty of God and his knowledge has increased a thousand-fold. I find it incredible that anyone would rather believe the statistically-impossible yarn that all things "just happened" by chance. I suppose that if one does not want to believe in a Being of higher intelligence than their own, then they must come up with some kind of blind faith in something, however untenable it might be. And so, they buy into the myth of happenstance. I choose to believe in something more rational—that a being by His intelligence and advanced knowledge has mastered the creation of life and of worlds, and that I am a child of that same being. And so are you.

1 comment:

Shirley Bahlmann said...

That's one of my favorite hymns. It's wonderful how a few words can evoke such a sweep of emotion. I like your insights, too! Thanks for posting.