Parting Counsel: What did God tell us before we left our Home on High?
By H. Wallace Goddard

I believe that we each had an interview with Father before leaving our heavenly home and coming to earth. I have previously written about that heavenly One-on-one.
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Our Personal Councils in Heaven

I believe that Father invited us to designate our eternal goals. I suspect that most who yearn for spiritual food (including most Meridian readers and Latter-day Saints in general) asked to return to His presence. Based on our chosen goal, God showed us every moment of our mortal experiences in prospect. There was to be no small print in His contracts. He wanted us to know exactly what would be required of us if we really wanted to join Him in the Family Business.

When we viewed our lives and saw the challenges we would face-including those of Abrahamic proportions-we sagged. We knew we were not equal to the demands of mortality-especially when we were far from our wise and protective Father. We despaired.

But Father offered the unstinting help of His two able counselors. The Lord Jesus Christ would provide teachings and pay all our repented debts. The Holy Spirit would comfort us, teach us, guide us, and cleanse us.

We were mystified. “You would do that for me?” we marveled. God was serene. “I will move eternity to get you back.”

So we signed the contract. That may have been the first time that every knee bowed and every tongue confessed that God’s perfect redemptiveness exceeded our wildest dreams.

Parting Counsel

Recently I imagined a small addition to the pre-mortal interview. I imagine that, just before we left heaven for mortality, Father gave us counsel. It may have come in a Father’s blessing. Or maybe it was delivered in a face-to-face chat with our faces cupped in His loving hands.

I believe that Father gave specific and helpful counsel. I believe that, if we are inspired, we will hear echoes of that parting counsel in scriptural passages that have a deep resonance with our spirits.

Father knew that we would forget the counsel when the veil was pulled across our minds. But maybe He also knew that counsel once heard would resonate when revisited.

What counsel did He give? I suspect that His counsel was as particular as our different spirits and our diverse patriarchal blessings. When we read those blessings we may feel stirrings of counsel first given in another time and place.

While His counsel was certainly customized to the child, I feel sure that there were common themes. For example, I imagine that He told each of us:

“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” (D&C 6:36)

He knew that, in this fallen world, we would often feel desolate, lonely, and hopeless. Thus He invited us to remember that all the powers of heaven combine to assure our safe return. We should trust Him.

For those of us who are especially sensitive and, as a result, very talented at self-condemnation, I think He counseled the following:

I don’t send my “Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

Many of us keep up a steady stream of self-condemnation. We need encouraging words from fellow travelers. Even more, we need to know God’s redemptive intent. We need to know that our talent at sinning and falling short does not exceed His talent at redeeming. The scriptures are littered with encouraging counsel. I wonder how many of the scriptural phrases were first spoken in those personal priesthood interviews.

“I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)

“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3)

I think that those of us who signed the pre-earth contract will not be lost. We may feel lost-but God will find us and bring us Home. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) He is able to do His perfect work of redemption (2 Nephi 27:20-1).

Looking Forward and Looking Back

Alma has invited us to anticipate that future day when we return to God. “Can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed” (Alma 5:16). His apparent hope is that such a vision will focus and energize our earthly efforts.

I wonder if there is equal value in looking back to that sacred pre-earth interview. Perhaps it will strengthen us for the pilgrimage through the bog and storms of mortality.

I imagine Father teaching us: “There are only two things that are certain in your mortal experience. The first is that there will be pain. It will come often and in many forms. It serves a holy purpose even when it generates unholy feelings. The second certainty is that the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit will be at your side. They will not forget you. They will not leave you behind.”

Perhaps both Jesus and the Holy Ghost were signatories on that pre-earth contract that bound us to Father. Perhaps they will use their remarkable resources to pull us from the mud, clean our souls, and protect us from storms. They are fully committed and completely able.

There is more good news. I feel certain that all those who have ever entered into covenants with God are also cheering for us. We are ministered to by angels even when we are unaware of them (Hebrews 13:2). Truly “the mountain [is] full of horses and chariots of fire round about” each of us. (2 Kings 6:17).

What Were His Words to Me?

How do you know what God said to you as He sent you on our way to mortality? We can, as I suggested, listen for special resonance with messages in scriptures and sermons. Yet there is more. We can ask Him to remind us.

I recommend that you take paper and pencil and ask Father to repeat His message of long ago. If we are peaceful, thoughts will come to mind. We may dismiss them as wild hopes. Yet, if we have come to know God, we know that His aspirations for us far exceed our own meager hopes and dreams. So we listen. We take notes. And He reminds us of sweet counsel given long ago in the poignant moment before we said “Goodbye.”

When you approach Him humbly, He will tell you. I know because, in answer to my request, He told me. I must confess that I am yet again surprised by His graciousness, His love, and His relentless redemptiveness.


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