Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thanks Be to God

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Thanks Be to God, by Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I was cooking dinner the other day when I became entirely light-headed and felt terribly small. The reason didn't have to do with spices, fumes, or heat; instead, my mind wandered to astronomy. In particular, I was thinking about the ever-expanding universe and its origin, the Big Bang. Despite being a scientist, I still feel overwhelmed by the expanse of space and intricacy of nature—even when I cook dinner! Starting to feel out of my depth, I wondered about time before the Big Bang and where the matter of the Universe came from. Luckily one of my children interrupted my thought process at this point and saved me from drifting further into the unknown.

As I returned to the task at hand—cooking, not interstellar speculation—I remembered when a child asked me somewhat-similar questions: "Does Heavenly Father have a father?" and "What did Heavenly Father do before He had children?"

I hope I'm not the only person who wonders about gravitational singularity and deity ancestry—even in the same thought chain! (I get the feeling that Elder Nelson might.) After giving a beautiful account of the physical gifts we enjoy, as accounted by a master of medicine (he mentions the body's ability to heal and reproduce), he makes an interesting observation by way of a hypothetical question:

Some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere. Ask yourself, "Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?" The likelihood is most remote. But if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own newer editions!

I'm not one to limit God's power—who's to say He didn't use the Big Bang to get everything going—but I do acknowledge His power and guidance, even on a universal scale.

As I drove to work this morning, I was amazed that amid local flooding from Tropical Storm Isaac, I could look up and see marvelous stars, planets, and a misty moon. As I tried to take in the beauty of nature, I thought of answered prayers and the love of God. It's as if physical gifts aren't enough: I crave spiritual gifts, too. A scripture Elder Nelson quoted fits in well here:

Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; . . .

. . . Believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them. (Mosiah 4:9-10)

If I were to try to steer a Sunday school class to answer questions on the Big Bang and its role and timeframe in God's plan and creative process, I may well be told, "That's a question that doesn't affect our salvation, so let's not discuss it here."

Is it important? Not really.

Is it interesting? You betcha!

While the things that get my mind drifting off to space (kind of literally) may not ultimately be important to my salvation, the things that these thoughts lead me to are.

I start out wondering about the universe. This leads me to think about my loving Father in Heaven. I then feel grateful for the Atonement and want to do better and be better.

This path of pursuing perfection helps me appreciate physical and spiritual gifts, and lead me to say, with Elder Nelson, thanks be to God!

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