"The family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). The family is where we are to learn love and serve others, where our physical and emotional needs can be met, where we learn the gospel and what is required to return and live with our Heavenly Parents in eternal family relationships.
I have been blessed to have been raised in a Gospel centered family. While my father has completed his earthly experience, my mother continues to be a righteous influence in the lives of her children and grandchildren. Several years ago when the grand children were younger, and the first of the great-grandchildren started to arrive, once a month we would gather as an extended family on a Sunday night of gospel study and fellowship. She prepared a lesson in scripture study and would lead the family through scriptures by subject, encouraging the marking of the scriptures in individual family members books. She also placed each of us in a partnership with another family member to read and choose a verse we would like to share with the family from a chapter in the Book of Mormon.
My partner was my niece Amber. She and I loved to take a few minutes to go over our assigned chapter and compare marked scriptures and discuss what they meant. Each family member was then given the opportunity to share their chosen scripture, why they chose it and what they learned from it, with the family. This gave each family member an opportunity to share and take an active role in studying the scriptures. The youngest members, new great-grandchildren, were teamed with their mother and would color a picture of what is happening in a particular chapter. Then, even the youngest child would share something with the family from the scriptures. And of course, there are always treats to end the evening!
Through this monthly Family Home Evening, and other experiences over the years, I have learned how influential and important families can be when it comes to fulfilling Heavenly Father's Plan. "The family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" and is one of the most important tools in the hand of God to do his work.
The Lord God spoke unto Moses and declared, "For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). The Lord informs us that we are not the first earth that he has created, but "there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power . . . innumerable are they unto man" (Moses 1:35). Moses further records "there is no end to my works" (Moses 1:38), and therefore we learn that the work of being a God, being Heavenly Fathers and Mothers, involves helping and lifting others in obtaining the same level of intelligence and development, including immortality and eternal life.
To help those of us who live on this world to become like Him, our Father in Heaven created this earth for us to inhabit while we learn, experience, and develop characteristics to be like Him. He has provided all that we need for this process. A physical body that feels pain, sickness, sorrow, joy and happiness. He has given us records we call scriptures, that teach us the dealings of God with those who have gone before, and modern prophets to help us understand His dealings with us today. He has given us the opportunity to be born in families that serve as a model for what has been and will be. The family is where we experience our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows.
For many, the family is their source of support and strength. For others, the family, or the lack thereof, provides different opportunities for growth through survival and endurance. Every person has a life experience specifically and individually designed for them. We do know that "all things are numbered unto [God], for they are all mine and I know them" (Moses 1:35). The Lord therefore knows our needs and has provided different experiences for us that will help Him in accomplishing His work in our lives.
For the "Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is" (1 Nephi 9:6). If the Lord has the power to "accomplish all his works" and our immortality and eternal life is His work, what has He provided for us through His power?
"For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent . . . Which suffering caused myself, even God . . . to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore . . . glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men" (D&C 19:16-19). What began in the garden was completed on the cross as Jesus suffered and died for each one of us.
He then rose on the third day to complete the Father's Plan. The Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, fulfilled his work and glory by providing the means necessary for us to return to our Father in Heaven's presence. Therefore, in power, He commands us to repent (D&C 19:20) and to "preach naught but repentance" (D&C 19:21) to the world. Jesus cries, "Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace [eternal life] in me" (Doctrine and Covenants 19:23).
"The kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God" (1 Nephi 15:34). We must repent and also strengthen ourselves against evil. "Whoso would harken unto the word of God, and would hold fast to it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them . . . to lead them away to destruction" (1 Nephi 15:24). "I beheld that the rod of iron . . . was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God" (1 Nephi 11:25). "They came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and partook of the fruit of the tree" (1 Nephi 8:30).
The word of God will keep us from perishing and will strengthen us against evil. John tells us that Jesus is the Word (John 1:1-14). His words and life will bring to pass our eternal life in Their presence. By partaking of the fruit of the tree, we partake of the love of God. "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). The love of God is personified in His Son, who through power has brought about the atonement for man and therefore has provided the way to accomplish all His works.
In October 2018 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson spoke of making the home a center of learning when he taught, “It is time for a home-centered Church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings” (“Opening Remarks,” Ensign, November 2018).
May our families become centers of learning and loving the scriptures. May we hang onto the rod and "spare not the rod" in teaching our children to whom they may look for their salvation and exaltation. May our homes become a center for gospel learning. May our families be a bit of heaven on earth and may each of us be valiant in the testimony of our Lord and find joy in the journey. May we enjoy the "fruit" of our labors as families throughout eternity.
Our Father in Heaven has indeed prepared "a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men" (1 Nephi 9:6).