As we contemplate the vastness of the heavens and realize that God, our Father is in control of all He has created, it's easy to wonder how He could possibly know about each of us on a personal level. With over five billion people on the earth at this time, it's easy to wonder how God can know about each of our personal needs and hopes, along with our individual problems and fears. As we try to relate God to us, we wonder how He could possible be everywhere and know everything about everyone all at the same time? Since we certainly couldn't do it, we find it hard to understand how God can do it.
To most people, God is something of a mystery. In order for Him to know each of us on a personal level, He must somehow be different than we are. He has been described as being large enough to fill the immensity of space, yet small enough to fit inside every human heart. Most churches teach that God is incomprehensible and therefore it's impossible for our finite minds to grasp all but the elementary concept of God. In this way they don't even try to understand how God can do all these things.
As Latter-day Saints we know that God is an individual being with a glorified body in human form, and that we too have the opportunity to become as He is. We also know that we are His literal offspring. This means there are many similarities between us and our Father in heaven. And because we understand the true character of God, this presents us with somewhat of a dilemma when it comes to explaining how He can be everywhere and know everything.
However, this isn't as strange as it may initially appear. First of all, we know that there are things which God has the ability to do that are not at our disposal here on earth. The scriptures tell us that with God all things are present, both the past as well as the future. In other words, time, as we know it, doesn't exist for God. We can't comprehend how that can be only because we have nothing in our earthly experience to compare it to. We know that there is no beginning or end to God, or to the intelligence of man, and, in our present state, that too is something we can't comprehend.
Interestingly enough, before we came to earth we lived with these concepts as normal, everyday facts. Back then we couldn't comprehend the concept of time or of something being finite. These notions were foreign to us and made no sense. And the reason was because we compared them to the things we experienced while living in our former world. Now that we are in a different environment, the shoe is on the other foot, but we still try to understand these ideas by comparing them to things we experience while living in our present world.
The environment in which God lives also gives Him access to powers which are foreign to us here on earth. For example, in our earthly bodies, we can only think of one thought at a time, but spirits can handle thousands of thoughts at a time. In our physical world, light travels at the fastest known speed. In fact, Einstein theorized that the speed of light is the absolute speed that anything can travel. He further stated that in order for anything to travel at the speed of light, it too must become converted into light. And yet, to get to the nearest star, light needs to travel for thousands of years, but God can traverse the entire universe in seconds. How can he do it? Obviously, He has abilities that are not found in earthly physics.
But there is a more plausible reason why God knows each one of us individually that is more down to our level of understanding. And all we need to grasp this concept is to look at His church.
This earth is not our natural home; the spirit world is. In the pre-mortal world that we once called "home", everything was perfect. When we left there to come here, our memory of that life was deliberately taken away, but our new life was patterned after our old home. The scriptures use such words as "type", "shadow", and "pattern" to describe the relationship between the real thing and that which is an imitation of it. Our environment here on earth is a type, or a shadow of our former environment. It's not as glorious or wonderful as before, but there are many similarities. In that world everything was perfect. In this world things don't operate as perfectly, even though they are based on the same principles.
That is also true of the church organization. In heaven this organization is perfect, but here on earth it encounters many problems, despite the fact that it's patterned after the way it exists in heaven. Hence, it's only a shadow of the real thing. Instead of it being the full, complete, three dimensional structure it is in heaven, on earth it's only a two dimensional blueprint that lacks much of the beauty and grandeur of the real building.
The First Presidency of the Church is a type, or is patterned after the godhead which exists in heaven. As righteous as these earthly men are, they are just a shadow of the greatness of God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Ghost. Yet, in this imperfect world, they administer the plan of salvation through an organizational system which is patterned after that which exists in heaven.
The President of the Church is responsible for the salvation of not only every person who lives on the earth, but who have ever lived on the earth. It is his responsibility to insure that genealogy work, both inside the temple and out, is being done to secure the salvation of those who have come before. But how can one man be responsible for the needs of so many people?
That's why there's a church organization made up of Apostles, General Authorities, Area presidents, Regional Presidents, Stake Presidents, Bishops, Temple Presidents, and mission Presidents. Although the President of the Church cannot possibly meet the needs of every member of the church on a personal level, there is a system whereby he can see to it that everyone is taken care of.
The best place for this to occur is within the individual wards. The Bishop is responsible for meeting the spiritual and sometimes the temporal needs of every member of his ward on a personal basis. But even with only four to five hundred people to watch over, one man cannot possibly do it all. Therefore, he has counselors to assist him, along with presidents over the Relief Society, Elder's Quorum, High Priest Quorum, Young Men and Young Woman's organization, Primary, Sunday School, and a Ward Mission leader.
When these leaders meet with the Bishop in a Priesthood Executive Counsel meeting (PEC) each week, they discuss the needs of individual members of the Ward. Through the use of Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching, the Bishop is also kept informed of those who are having problems. Together, these leaders discuss a plan of action that will help provide each individual in the Ward with whatever their needs may be. In addition to this, the Bishop personally interviews every teenager twice a year, everyone who is seeking a Temple Recommend, those who are being extended a calling, or anyone else who wishes to talk to him.
Although the Stake President is also responsible for all of the members in his stake, and also personally conducts interviews, his primary role is to make sure that each ward within his stake is functioning as it should. To determine this, he meets personally with each Bishop, checks the statistical reports on Home Teaching, Visiting Teaching, Sacrament attendance, and other areas that he uses to gauge how well each ward is caring for the needs of its members. He also sends members of his High Council, along with other stake auxiliary leaders to visit each ward. Together they help ensure that the ward leaders get the training and assistance they need to magnify their callings.
With each level above that of a Stake President, the more administrative the position becomes and the less involved they are with individual members on a daily basis. But it is in this way that the President of the Church is able to insure that every member is watched over and cared for.
If the Church is patterned after that which exists in heaven, then there must also be a similar, but more perfected organizational system at work on the other side of the veil. Although there is no scriptural proof, there is evidence to suggest that God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Ghost, operate very much like the First Presidency does here on earth. Although they may not be personally involved with each individual, they oversee an organizational system in the spirit world that is calculated to insure that every person is carefully watched over.
As Latter-day Saints we understand the delegation of authority which God our Father used in the creation of the earth. In the Church, we understand the principle of reporting the results of our labor back to those in authority over us. God does likewise with those under His authority.
Then how does God know about our individual needs, hopes, desires, fears, anxieties and problems? Because of a system of delegation, whose pattern can be found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the Church two priesthood holders may be assigned to home teach and watch over four, five, six or maybe more families. Once a month they personally are to visit each of them, talk with all the family members and see if they have any needs. As good as this system may seem, it has some serious flaws. If the home teachers are not conscientious in their duties, none of the families get visited. Even when they are conscientious, conflicts in schedules, sickness, and vacations may prevent the visits from happening. In addition to these problems, there may be a lack of interest on the part of the assigned families, or distrust, apathy, pride or a host of other things which may also prevent some or all of these families from fully cooperating with the home teaches. Even when things go right, some of the things which the families need may be beyond the ability of humans to help with.
On the other hand, in the spirit world it is very possible to assign four, five, six or more angels to watch over one person. Spirits don't need sleep or food. They don't get sick or tired. They're not bothered with raising a family, working to earn a living, fulfilling civic responsibilities as well as home teaching several families. Furthermore, their commitment to our Father in heaven is total and complete. There is no thought or desire on their part to be careless or lazy about performing their responsibility.
With such a system, our Father can assign several angels to watch over one individual, commanding them to attend to every need and answer every prayer of the person in their care. Thus, when we pray to our Father in heaven, He doesn't have to personally hear it, but, because of His love for us, He has a perfect system in place to make sure that every prayer is heard and answered. If the assigned angels can't handle the request, there is a chain of command where they can get the help needed. There's no doubt that our Father can check in on the progress of any individual, but that isn't necessary to ensure that every individual is being taken care of.
Then are we supposed to pray to our guardian angels? Not at all. They're only doing what our heavenly Father has instructed them to do. They're acting as His representatives. He's the one in control. He's the one the angels answer to concerning their duty. Just as we don't pray to Jesus, so we also don't pray to our guardian angels.
And what about the gift of the Holy Ghost? Does God, the Holy Ghost personally visit and give inspiration and revelation to every baptized member of the Church? We really don't know, but under a system of delegation, He wouldn't necessarily have to. Once a person has been given this gift by the laying on of hands, those angels watching over the newly baptized person might simply be given the charge - by the authority of God, the Holy Ghost - to provide the gifts of the Spirit to the individual as it is needed. In this way, it's the guardian angels who administer the power of the Holy Ghost to the person under their watchful care. But that power is only being used at the direction or the approval of the Holy Ghost. Thus, for all practical purposes, it's still the Holy Ghost who provides each baptized member with His power and gifts.
This is no different than the way the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints works. As we have seen before, the bishop is the person who has the most direct, personal responsibility for watching over the needs of the saints in his ward. Yet this is the same responsibility that the Stake President has, as well as the First Presidency, and even God, Himself. How is a bishop chosen to be the individual personally responsible to watch over every person in his ward? The Stake President, through prayer, submits a name to the First Presidency, who then prayerfully seeks an answer from our heavenly Father. When the answer is positive, the First President sends a letter to the Stake President, authorizing him to ordain the individual to the office of a bishop.
Did God, the Father ordain this man to be a bishop? Yes and no. No, He didn't personally ordained the man, but yes, He did authorize the ordination. All of the keys, powers, and priesthood authority are in place for mortal men to carry out the orders of the Father, but without His approval the man would not be ordained to the office of a bishop. Once he is ordained, he has the responsibility, from God, the Father (and overseen by the First Presidency, and Stake President) to care for the needs of those whom he has been called to watch over.
We know that after death there is a great missionary effort being performed in the spirit world. Is it inconceivable to think that a divine organization doesn't exists to further the work of the gospel there? Then why would it be inconceivable to think that the same type of divine organization doesn't also exists in the pre-mortal spirit world?
In the Church, every member is given a calling. The reason for this is so they have an opportunity to serve others. And it's in serving one another that we become more like Christ. But do we have to wait until mortality before being able to serve? Logic would seem to indicate that isn't so. By allowing pre-mortal spirits to act as guiding, helping, protecting servants of those in mortality, they too have the opportunity to serve others and become more Christ-like.
But are there enough angels to watch over every individual on the earth, let alone assigning four, five, six or more angels? Certainly. We can mathematically prove it. If there are five billion people on the earth right now, and assuming that figure remains the same, there will be five billion different people living on the earth in a hundred years. If we assume that angels are only people from the pre-mortal world waiting for their time to come to earth, then there are at least ten times as many people waiting to live here during the millennium as there are presently living. If the population of the earth increases beyond five billion people as time goes on, then there must be more than ten times as many people presently waiting to come here.
But what if guardian angels come from the post-mortal world? There is evidence to suggest that deceased parents, grandparents and friends have provided assistance and help from the other side to their mortal loved ones. If that's where angels come from then there is a tremendous pool of people to be assigned as guardians.
In addition to that, there is also scriptural evidence to support the theory that angels can also be beings who will never inherit mortality. Their whole existence is to eternally serve God in the spirit world. There is evidence to suggest the existence of warrior spirits, angels of death, destruction, and plagues, as well as a whole host of other angels with specific duties. And these are in addition to human angels such as Moroni.
The question which some may ask is, "Why would God not allow these faithful beings to have the same opportunity as us to inherit eternal life?" The answer is, because they're not the same species as us. They're not literal offspring of God.
At first glance this may seem unnatural, but if we look at the variety of life on earth, we may gain a different view of God's creative powers. God has created all life, from the single cell ameba to the whale. And the variety of fish in between these two is mind-boggling. But the variety of life out of water is far greater. There are so many different kinds of life that we must first break them into numerous categories. The first such category is plant and animal. Then we have to break animal life into smaller categories, such as mammals and non-mammals. Then mammals are broken down into cold-blooded and warm-blooded. Then we have to break these down into families, such as the cat family, the horse family, the ape family, etc. Within the ape family we have orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and other classifications. Even within these classifications there are many varieties of orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees. And God created all of these various forms of life.
It's a fact that there are many similarities between chimpanzees and humans, but chimpanzees are not humans. They are a different species of animal, and, even though God has created them, they are not children of His, eligible for exaltation. If that is true, then why is it inconceivable to assume that God's infinite creations of life are limited to this earthly plane? Why is it so hard to imagine that God could create a whole variety of spirit beings different from those who are His literal offspring? And what reason would He create them if it wasn't for His own good pleasure? If there are life forms on this earth which are not worthy of exaltation, why should it be any different in the spirit world?
But regardless of who these heavenly angels are, it must also be remembered that the war which started in heaven is still going on for the souls of men. Satan has his legions of angels who are also watching over the inhabitants of earth. In their case, they seek to guide and lead each of us to follow the plan of Satan. If these evil spirits are allowed to gather around unsuspecting mortals for the purpose of influencing them and attending to their evil desires, why shouldn't our Father also allow righteous spirits to do the same?
Knowing this helps us to realize that much is going on around us that we are completely unaware of. Furthermore, it should bring us comfort to know that we are never alone. No matter where we are, whether in the farthest desert, the highest mountain, the deepest valley, or the darkest forest, there are many unseen spirits gathered around us, both for our protection and blessing as well as for our defeat and destruction. No matter what our circumstances, our prayers are always easily heard, and just as easily answered. No matter what we say, do or think, there are many witnesses to our actions.
Then why do bad things happen to people if there are so many angels attending to our needs? Because they're not there to protect us from every problem in life. That's not what mortality is all about. In fact, it's contrary to the plan of salvation. It's true that no one wants to endure pain and suffering, but there is value in it. It helps builds strength of character, empathy for others, faith in God and self, as well as many other positive qualities. To eliminate all suffering is to take away the very tools needed to grow spiritually. Does that mean all suffering is good? Of course not.
When we pray for help, God determines which is better for us - to endure the pain or to relieve it. It's the duty of guardian angels to hear our prayers and then answer them according to God's wisdom. Thus, when they answer prayers, they're actually delivering the decision which God intends for us.
Some may say that all of this is speculation, and perhaps so. But regardless of how God, our Father watches over us, there is one important fact we should never loose sight of. We are not insignificant to Him. It's not impossible for God to hear our individual prayers and know our personal needs. We're not just a number on a statistical chart, easily lost in a sea of people. God does love each and every one of His children, and has provided a way for all of us to be properly cared for, whether we fully understand His methods or not.
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