Nestled in a remote corner of Montana near the Idaho border is a magnificent masterpiece of nature. Encompassing 100 acres in the Kootenai National Forest, a huge mountainous grove of giant western red cedars stands as silent sentinels, attesting to the majesty of God's creation.
Some of the gigantic cedars measure 8 to 10 feet in diameter and rise some 175 to 200 feet. Branches from the trees, high above the forest floor, mesh together, forming a natural ceiling and all but blocking out the sun.In this quiet, almost sacred-like forest cathedral, the query of the Psalmist comes to mind:
"What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:4.)
Is God really mindful of just one person on a tiny speck of the Earth, who is dwarfed by such stately giants as the cedar trees that were growing long before Columbus set sail for the New World 500 years ago? Or how about the teeming masses in such cities as Tokyo or Sao Paulo or Mexico City, where the sea of humanity is seemingly endless? Is God really aware of all these people?
The Psalmist further wrote that God created man "a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet." (Psalm 8:5-6.)
Man is God's greatest creation and has dominion over all His other creations - but we are even more that that, we are also the literal spiritual children of God. Paul in writing to the Romans put it this way:
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. . . . (Rom. 8:16-17.)
As God's children and heirs to His glory, we know that our Father loves us. And because of that love, He has given us all that is necessary for us to return home to Him "crowned with glory and honor."
Among the great gifts we have received from our loving Father are:
- The gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is a divine plan encompassing eternal principles and ordinances that make it possible for us to gain exaltation in our Father's kingdom. An essential relationship exists between the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church of Jesus Christ. The Church, which is the kingdom of God on earth, is the means by which we implement the gospel plan in our lives. President Spencer W. Kimball, in his April 1978 address, said the gospel plan is centered in the family.
- The scriptures.
The scriptures open to us a vast treasure house of light and knowledge from God. Can you imagine what the world would be like without the Bible? But we in the Church must tap further into that treasure house of spiritual light. The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price provide great insights on so many important subjects beyond those found in the Bible. An understanding of the saving principles found in the standard works and adherence to them are essential to our salvation.
- The prophet.
God has not left us alone. The Lord said to Joseph Smith in 1829, a year before the Church was organized: "This generation shall have my word through you." (D&C 5:10.) That promise is still in effect today. Each succeeding prophet, down to our present prophet, President Ezra Taft Benson, has been the mouthpiece of God and is the beacon we can follow "to guide us in these latter days." It is essential that we listen to the prophet, as "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7.)
- The infinite atonement of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the most powerful single verse in all the scriptures is recorded in book of John:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.)
In some magnificent way that we do not understand, the Atonement of Christ made it possible for the Savior to open the door of immortality to all mankind and the blessings of eternal life to those who serve Him and keep His commandments.
The answer, then, to the Psalmist's query, "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" is powerfully summed up in the word of the Lord to Moses:
"For behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39.)