By Mei Ding Goh.
As I began to write down my thoughts for this article, as I began to type something on my computer, I could feel my chair was shaking, my instinct told me “earthquake”. I was really scared, immediately I knelt down and prayed, “Heavenly father, please forgive us of our sins, please release your grace and mercy, help us soften our hearts, help us repent”. And I was amazed, how great thou art, what a perfect timing to prepare for this topic “mortality is a probationary time to enable man to repent and serve God.”
I recalled a time, while I was walking to the market, I saw a little kitten, and it curled around its little brother. Its brother was dead, probably hit by a car. I could feel its grief; my heart was breaking, and I stood beside it and prayed for it, “Heavenly father, please comfort this little kitten.” The kitten reminded me of my late sister who passed on few years ago due to cancer. The earthquake and the tiny kitten reminded me of how easily we take life for granted, live as though we still have endless days to come. Must we have the natural disaster or tragedy to awaken us and make us realize who we really are and what our true life’s purpose is?
If I stretch this beautiful ribbon from one wall of my room to the other wall, if this ribbon represents the line of our lives and that one end of this ribbon represents our past and other our future. This ribbon will actually extend far beyond the walls of this room and continue forever in both directions. We cannot see anything beyond these two walls. We do not know what happened to us before we were born; we have no idea where we are going after our physical death. What shall we do? Who and where and how shall we seek help and guidance? These are actually golden questions that lead people to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes nicknamed the Mormon Church). Once baptized, they begin to understand the concepts of faith and forgiveness, and how they pertain to our eternal existence, which had no beginning, and which will have no end.
There are laws of nature we cannot change. Consider an ice cream cone. Regardless of who and what we are, we all know it will melt if the room temperature is above freezing. We do not decide its condition. Who determines this? Alma, a Book of Mormon prophet, wrote,
“All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things are upon the face of it, year, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which moves in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme creator (Alma 30:44).
God is not only our Creator and our Ruler; he is also our Heavenly Father.
When we play a computer game, we need to learn and follow the rules of the game. We won’t argue with the rules since that won’t help us win the game. We are merely the players, not the programmer. In mortality, God is the ultimate creator and also the ultimate ruler. If we use a computer game as metaphor, then in order to win this game, we need to be wise and learn and obey the rules of the creator.
We are truly blessed to have scriptures as our guide, to teach us how to win this game. The scriptures are a source of revelations. They reveal Heavenly Father’s teachings for His children. From them we can learn enough about who we are, what is the purpose of this life and get our bearings and get direction in our lives.
As in Alma 42:4…
”And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.”
So we now have the right perspective. From it, we know that all things, all events, and all people provide us the opportunity to repent and to serve God. So just like playing computer games, though we focus on the things in the game, yet our main intention is to win. In this life, we don’t just focus on the things, events or people and judge them, this is not our job. The programmer or the creator already has the rules for them. The creator will judge them. Our job is to repent, to serve God.
For example, if someone says something offensive to us, we don’t focus on that person and judge how bad he or she is or spread bad things about him or her. We pray and ask our Lord, what would you have me learn? We ask ourselves have I in any way behaved like him or her. If so, we can admit our fault and apologize for it and forsake it. Not only that, if we wish that person would say something nice to us, probably it is time for us to start saying something nice. The negative experience can now help us to repent and be aware and change.
So now we can turn every encounter into a holy encounter, not because the encounter itself is holy, but the way we perceive it, the way we use it, makes it holy. And this answers the question “If God is love, why is there so much pain, so much suffering in this world?” For our heavenly father knows every element of who we are; He knows our minds, our hearts, and our souls. He will use different levels of “games” tailored to our unique characteristics to help us. For he loves us so much, he simply won’t compromise who we really are, because we are His children.
When we repent and learn to be more and more like Him, we are more available for Him so we can serve people using his power and his wisdom. Although we may do the same things, that action contains two possibilities— one is to glorify God, the other, is to glorify one’s own self. And the difference lies in our heart, our intention. To repent can also mean we learn to surrender our will to our Lord’s will.
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus speaks to the disciples in Mark 8:34-35 and tells them…
“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
It is too bad that we are so selfish and all that we want is what we think we are entitled to, and we forget that when we have all, we are at risk of losing it all at some point. Jesus continued and says in verse 36,
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
This is where as human beings we stand – we want it all. The many options that we see out there that we thought could help us solve our problems could well be the very things that entice us and bind us.
Jesus says clearly that…
“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also (John 14:6-7).
Jesus is the way to the solutions of our problems: If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Repentance of our own sins is useless if we don’t forgive others. Unforgiveness stops our progress. We can move nowhere, especially not closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. The following story comes from a conference address given by Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer at the April 2011 general conference:
My life was changed by a saintly patriarch. He married his sweetheart. They were deeply in love, and soon she was expecting their first child. The night the baby was born, there were complications. The only doctor was somewhere in the countryside tending to the sick. After many hours of labor, the condition of the mother-to-be became desperate. Finally, the doctor was located. In the emergency, he acted quickly and soon the baby was born, and the crisis, it appeared, was over. But some days later, the young mother died from the very infection that the doctor had been treating at another home that night. The young man’s world was shattered. As the weeks wore on, his grief festered. He thought of little else, and in his bitterness he became threatening. Today, no doubt, he would have been pressed to file a malpractice suit, as though money would solve anything. One night a knock came at his door. A little girl said simply, “Daddy wants you to come over. He wants to talk to you.”
“Daddy” was the stake president. The counsel from that wise leader was simply “John, leave it alone. Nothing you do about it will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John, leave it alone.”
This had been my friend’s trial. How could he leave it alone? A terrible wrong had been committed. He struggled to get hold of himself and finally determined that he should be obedient and follow the counsel of that wise stake president. He would leave it alone.
He said, “I was an old man before I understood and could finally see a poor country doctor—overworked, underpaid, run ragged from patient to patient, with little medicine, no hospital, few instruments, struggling to save lives, and succeeding for the most part. He had come in a moment of crisis, when two lives hung in the balance, and had acted without delay. I finally understood!” He said, “I would have ruined my life and the lives of others.” Many times he had thanked the Lord on his knees for a wise priesthood leader who counseled simply, “John, leave it alone.”
Around us we see members of the Lord’s Church who have become offended. Some take offense at incidents in the history of the Church or its leaders and suffer their whole lives, unable to get past the mistakes of others. They do not leave it alone. They fall into inactivity.
That attitude is somewhat like a man being hit by a club. Offended, he takes up a club and beats himself over the head with it all the days of his life. How foolish! How sad! That kind of revenge is self-inflicting. If you have been offended, forgive, forget it, and leave it alone.
If you are carrying some burden, forget it, let it alone. Do a lot of forgiving and repenting, and you will be visited by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and confirmed by a testimony, the possible strength of which you had never guessed. You will be watched over and blessed—you and yours. Of this I bear witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Mei Ding Goh is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is a seminary teacher in the Malaysia Ipoh District and a member of the Penang Branch.
Jesus Christ in Mormonism
The Holy Bible in Mormonism
Basic Mormon Beliefs and Real Mormons
Our Search for Happiness