I have an image that appears sometimes in my prayers. It’s not a vision, but an image – it’s not imposed from outside, but comes totally from within. In this image I am kneeling on both knees, my head bowed and my arms outspread. I am kneeling before three personages – Heavenly Father on the left, Heavenly Mother in the middle and Jesus Christ on my right – so he is to the left of Heavenly Mother. I think this arrangement indicates that this is a family meeting – a personal meeting , therefore Christ is not standing on the “right hand of the Father” as He might be if this were some formal priesthood interview or judgment, or some presentation of the Godhead before the world.
As I kneel, I do not feel guilty or overwhelmed as one might expect, nor do I feel overcome by their love. I am just comfortable and meekly confident (D&C 121:45). I am presenting myself to them just as I am, quite imperfect, but secure in their acceptance of and love for me. I feel a sort of purity as I kneel there, even perfection, but I am only perfect because of their love. I am their child, (Christ’s brother), and there is peace between us – even familiarity. I think this image depicts what it means to “become as a little child”. I do not feel the need to “measure up”, as I do so often with other people – that would be fruitless and I know it. I do not feel the need to defend myself – it would do no good. I am what I am, but I am sincerely so, and I feel no need to excuse myself before them.
As I ponder this image and how I feel when I engage it, two very important things are confirmed:
2) I have a powerful testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
I cannot imagine how I could feel as peaceful and confident with this image if these two things weren’t true. Remember, that I am in an attitude of prayer – I am exposed. Even though this image is from my own mind, deliberately constructed in an attempt to generate closeness and to facilitate better communication through my prayer, I don’t think such an image would result in such peaceful feelings if the feelings weren’t real. I don’t think I could trick myself into feeling that way. I think that deep inside I have knowledge that, were I to truly be in their presence, this is the way it would be.
Why do I share this publicly? I share it because I want to testify that this image represents what is available to each of us if we will simply submit ourselves – as best we can – to the will and purpose of our heavenly family. This purpose is that we would each become totally loving people – loving with the Christ-like charity described by Paul (Corinthians 13), Mormon (Moroni 7), and Moroni (Moroni 10). This purpose is that we would become individually and collectively a Zion people. This purpose is that we would become one with Christ and Heavenly Father (and Heavenly Mother) as they are with each other (John 17:20-22). Our Heavenly family truly wants us to become like them, and to become like them is our nature and our destiny.
Our savior died that we might have trust in the precious gift of the atonement, that we might know that we have been cleansed in His blood, and thus that we might feel comfortable, even joyous, in their presence. What family would not want this for their children? This image, and the feelings that accompany it, are a testimony given through the power of the Holy Ghost that these things are true and real, and that they are available to each of us – even as they are available to me. We do not have to be perfect. Our heavenly family will love and accept us as we are, as long as we come before them in meekness, humility and sincerity. We must also be willing to accept that each of our brothers and sisters has a place beside us; that this image is supposed to be multiplied billions upon billions of times, each child kneeling, head bowed, arms outspread, comfortable and peaceful in the presence of those who have loved us and who will continue to love us beyond measure – unconditionally and eternally.
I therefore bear my testimony that your Heavenly Family awaits – their hearts open to receive yours. The goodness that dwells inside of us, the goodness that we all yearn for, is part of us and is very real – like an underground spring waiting to flow freely – the true font of living waters. It is the source of all hope, the object of all true faith, and the source of all creation. I pray that we will all come to understand this truth, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.