Knowing who the Father really is: 'God is our ancestor, not distant but close'

In the April 1991 general conference, Elder Henry B. Eyring, then first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric and now of the Quorum of the Twelve, said that there are people who say God does not exist or is far away.

He spoke of having met a woman who, for many years, returned to her home country on the anniversary of the death of her father. He said that she had told him she believed in the veneration of her ancestors, but that her family went to church only when someone died. She told him she believed in God, but regarded Him much as a distant ancestor.Elder Eyring said: "God is our ancestor, not distant but close. He is the Father of our spirits; we are His children. But like that woman, we all at times feel far removed from Him. Like her, if we are to have the words of the gospel of Jesus Christ touch us, then we must believe in God. We must want to be with Him. And we must sense our need to be purified to be with Him again.

"The day will come when we will see Him again."

Further, Elder Eyring said: "If you want to stay close to someone who has been dear to you, but from whom you are separated, you know how to do it. You would find a way to speak to them, you would listen to them, and you would discover ways to do things for each other. The more often that happened, the longer it went on, the deeper would be the bond of affection. If much time passed without the speaking, the listening, and the doing, the bond would weaken.

"God is perfect and omnipotent, and you and I are mortal. But He is our Father, He loves us, and He offers the same opportunity to draw closer to Him as would a loving friend. And you will do it in much the same way: speaking, listening, and doing.

"Our Heavenly Father has not only invited us to speak to Him, He has commanded it. And, as He has always done, when He commands, He promises, too. Even the Savior of the world, when He was on the cross, felt His Father far from Him. You will have moments, perhaps long moments, of feelings of separation. But you know the way to draw closer to God. King Benjamin taught us the way:

" `I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.

" `For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?' " (Mosiah 5:12-13.)

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