By Jay V
One day I was sitting on a glider swing under a huge Linden Tree. I was in high school struggling with thoughts, of who I was and what was I to do with my life. I was watching a pair of birds flying to and fro and feeding their young in a nest above me. I was down; I had few friends, found school difficult, and was wondering what the purpose of life was.
As I watched the birds above me I wondered why wasn’t I like them? They seemed to have a great life: no troubles, no school, and no worries. They were happy in their existence and taking care of their young. They seemed to have an ideal life. Then a thought occurred to me: what if right now the temperature would drop by 10 degrees? I could go home and turn on the heat, or put on a warm coat, but what would the birds do? They would probably die.
It occurred to me that I was different from those birds and all the other creatures in the world. I had skills and abilities that set me apart from all other creatures. Why? Who am I? What is this thing that makes me special? Why am I here? What happens to me when I die? It would be a shame to waste all the things I had learned, and created. If I was so different from other creatures, then what is my purpose in the grand scheme of things?
I pondered what was behind all the wonders that I saw before me: the trees, animals, the sounds of nature, and the beauty of a sunset. Why was man different? I felt that there must be something behind all that was before me but what could that be? Was it God? I did not think so at the time. As a teenager, I believed God was something that man, society and cultures created to explain life. There was something there all right but it was not a “God.” Why would a God allow death, pain, sorrow and suffering to exist?
Many years later, as an adult with a wife and daughter, events and challenges prepared me to discover the answers to my questions. I had invited two young missionaries to come to my home. I was not sure why I invited them. It just felt right. We sat outside on the deck and they, in their simple youthful way, explained that I was a son of a Heavenly Father who had raised me as a spirit child, and provided me a home and comfort in the life before this. They explained to me that Heavenly Father created this world with all its wonders for his children to come and to have bodies of flesh and blood, and to understand through experience what it is like to be mortal. And most important of all they told me that there was life after this life and that we would be reunited with our physical bodies after death. My whole life changed that day. Everything took on a new meaning. There was hope for me and my little family.
This knowledge changed my whole outlook on life. Uncertainty was gone, and there was purpose to my life. The birds in that Linden tree have their part in the world too. All of God’s creations were made to bring variety and beauty into the world. We can see the hand of God in everything around us. This life is important. We need to take it seriously, live in obedience to God’s will so that He can, in turn, bless us. God is real. His son is real. He died for us. The Plan of Salvation is real and was put in place to help me realize my potential as a son of God.