In my struggle to reconcile two conflicting views of God, I learned more about the nature of my Heavenly Father.
For nearly all of my 22 years on earth, I had felt confident in my understanding of God. He was always there when I prayed, I felt his love, and I had seen too many tender mercies to forget him. My favorite Mormon Message was “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” because it captured the loving relationship I envisioned: a unique connection to him as a dear friend and a divine daughter. I felt like I knew God—until my view of him expanded.
In one of my classes, we studied and discussed the Book of Job. Job was a just man who was dramatically struck with tragedy. Afterward, God spoke to Job harshly instead of using the comforting voice I would have expected. God gave Job a long lecture full of chastisement (see Job 38-41). Rather than buoying Job up, God reminded him of his inferior understanding: “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it” (Job 40:2).
Reading these verses, I felt like I had received the same chastisement as Job. We are limited, finite beings. Necessarily, our understanding of an infinite, omniscient, all-powerful God is likewise limited. As he told Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts . . . as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Because he has these attributes, we worship a God who is more unknowable and mysterious than I’d ever realized.
So who is he? Is God the loving, kind, tender parent in the Mormon Message? Or is he the unknowable whirlwind that humbles Job? And if I couldn’t understand him, is it even possible to have a relationship with him?
I quietly wrestled with this conflict on my own. For the first time in my life, I felt disconnected from the God I had relied on for so long. And it was frightening. I expressed these feelings to my husband, and our resulting tender discussion opened up my heart to accept the paradox that Heavenly Father could be both the God I had known and also an incomprehensible being.
He asks us to trust him with our faith, even though we don’t have a perfect knowledge of him. As we trust him, he reveals himself to us according to our understanding and always “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30; see also Isaiah 28:10, 13). God is mysterious but not impenetrable.
We should expect that our understanding of God will always be limited, so it will always have room to grow, expand, and change. Coming to know him is an eternal quest, not a mortal task to check off.
Surprisingly, I now appreciate “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” even more. It reminds me that we are children of our Father. As children, our understanding is limited, but as we patiently trust our Father, we will come to know him better.
Watch the video “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” to understand more about our Heavenly Father.
Source: Mormon Channel
—Carlee Reber, Mormon Insights contributor
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Find more insights
See “Seeking to Know God, Our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ” to learn what Elder Robert D. Hales has to say about the process of coming to know God.
Read Andrew C. Skinner’s testimony about our Heavenly Father, in “The Nature and Character of God.”