For a long time it was hard for me to envisage the person of my Heavenly Father, even when praying the most intense and heartfelt prayers. I would try to gauge the “distance” between God and myself, which often seemed beyond reach. It was as if God sat somewhere far above on his heavenly throne while I was laboring below in the trenches. Over time, as I tried to envisage my Heavenly Father while exercising faith in him and in his Son Jesus Christ, I felt the distance shorten, though I still couldn’t get an image of him in my mind. Nor did I feel what I assumed should be a direct and tangible connection between God and myself.
All that changed on the heels of some serious challenges, but not until after I had consecrated my life and labors wholly to the cause of Christ, utilizing my time and honing my talents to serve God and humanity. When situations arose in which I most needed God’s assurance that the path I was on was acceptable to him, when I faced intense spiritual trauma and the world around me seemed entirely to disintegrate and abandon me, when I was tested to the limit in my loyalties to God, leaving me no recourse but to turn to him alone for help, then God came through for me wonderfully, far more than I had hoped, and I was in no way left comfortless.
King Benjamin’s words come to mind, which describe my situation at that time: “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 5:13). Also the words of Alma: “I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself, but it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me; for if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things” (Alma 38:6). A descent phase through severe trials had brought rebirth or an ascent phase to a higher spiritual level and God honored that, even orchestrated it.
I learned that even beginning attempts to envisage God in our prayers and meditations form key steps towards his subsequently revealing himself to us, so that we can assuredly say we know God and know him personally, not just know about him. And just as there is a Heavenly Father who begot our spirits, so there is a Heavenly Mother who bore our spirits, and they are one God and reveal themselves as one God. And as just there is a Second Comforter, who is Christ, so there is a Third Comforter—the Father and the Mother. These desire to reveal themselves to their children on the earth as they do in heaven, opening up for them spiritual portals.