Thursday, December 16, 2004

Turn Heavenward Our Eyes

From "Turn Heavenward Our Eyes," by John H. Vandenberg, Ensign, Dec. 1971.

Henry Ward Beecher has said: "God asks no man whether he will accept life. That is not his choice. He must take it. The only choice is how." Parenthetically, I would say we did make the choice to come to earth. God does not force his children.

The choice we are now concerned with is how we are going to live our lives. We have the agency to make that choice as we react to the conditions in which we find ourselves during our life span. We must make choices, as we are surrounded by the elements and resources of the earth as well as by the people with whom we associate. From the words of the prophets to the words of the atheists, the question is: How will we emerge? Will we rise or fall? Will we fulfill our life’s purpose, or will it be wasted?

In accepting life, we must relate to the world as it is—to the struggle between good and evil. There are, of course, some who would have us believe that there is no such thing as good or evil, but this philosophy runs counter to the natural laws of opposites that exist, such as heat and cold, light and dark, gravitation and vacuum, and many others. We need to use our eyes that we may see, our ears that we may hear, and our minds that we may be able to think and make our own decisions as we sift out the chaff of all we see and hear, so that we may know the truth of that which we feel in our hearts, as it is affirmed by the Holy Spirit.

Faith in God is a prerequisite to the influence of the Holy Spirit. To have a belief in God is the foundation of a full and happy life. Without this belief, life can be wasted. Evidence of God’s existence spreads throughout the universe.

Abraham Lincoln said: "I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God." I believe I know what Lincoln meant when he made that statement.


Do you think of yourself as a happy person? A young man once made a list of all the things he thought would bring happiness in life. He included such things as wealth, fame, honor, success, and love. It was quite a long list, and he thought he had covered everything; but when he showed it proudly to an elderly friend, he was told, "You have left out the most important thing of all—peace of mind." The young man said he could not, at that time, understand how right his friend was.

Peace of mind, a clear conscience, was declared by President David O. McKay as the first condition of happiness. He said: "It is glorious when you can lie down at night with a clear conscience that you have done your best not to offend anyone and have injured no one. … These and countless other virtues and conditions are all wrapped up in the Gospel of Jesus Christ." (Man May Know for Himself [Deseret Book Co., 1967], p. 458.)

Some other conditions that make for happiness are the ability to follow that which you know to be true, to control your appetites and passions, to be able to make your own decisions, to feel no envy of another, to be able to commune with God in prayer, and to be free from bonds, and to be master of yourself.

The second appeal of the child to his parents—train me to be a blessing to the world—is companion to happiness, for it calls for action by the individual in an expression of service, of losing himself in helping his fellowman.

You’ve heard that statement that each of us is either a part of the problem or a part of the answer, with the understanding that this world is beset with problems. If you are a part of the answer, then you are a blessing to the world and can train your children to follow in your footsteps. Those who are a blessing to the world will try to do these things: (1) lend a helping hand, (2) refrain from infringing upon the rights of others, (3) obey God’s laws and the laws of the land, (4) stand up for the right and fight against evil, and (5) share the truth with others, remembering, and remembering well, that the greatest gift of God is his plan of salvation.

Read the full text here.
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