God can be hard to find. He is buried. (Matthew 13:44.) “The well is deep” (John 4:11), and because we must dig so deep to find the living water “few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14.) But, if you’ve ever felt Love’s pure flow possess your body, you would sell all you have to keep it. (Matthew 13:44.) I’ve felt it. It is real. And my passion in life is to help others tap in to the same flow of living water. But where is it? Where is God?
God is not up there.
God is not out there.
God is in our very DNA. (Genesis 1:26-27; Acts 17:28.) God is that primordial light of goodness and instinct to love, deeply embedded inside each one of us. (John 1:9; D&C 88:6–13).
He “dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” (Acts 17:24.) He “dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell[.]” (Alma 34:36.)
This indwelling of God is beautifully described in the Book of Mormon, Alma:32. The “word”—which is simply a metaphor for the indwelling of Christ (Alma 34:5-6)—is compared to a seed (Alma 32:28). Our job is to believe it is there, inside of us, and then yield to the flow and possession of God. (See Alma 32:28-43.)
The Christ inside of us “swelleth and sprouteth” (Alma 32:30) and transforms us because “every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness” (Alma 32:31), including the likeness in which we were originally created (Genesis 1:26-27). We discover the light inside of us that has been there all along. (Alma 32:35.) This light is the original incarnation, God-in-us. (John 1:9; John 8:12.)
Faith, to a large degree, is believing and trusting in who you already are.
And as we discover our true identity and that our separateness from God was really just an illusion, we begin to see ourselves as a joint venture. The seed is now a “tree” (Alma 32:37), and our lives are now lived not in the separateness of “me” and “God” but in terms of “us.” “Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up and bring forth fruit unto us.” (Alma 32:37.) We are the same. One. Part of the same whole. Vine and branch. (John 15.)
Unfortunately, so much of organized religion has focused on the alleged distance between us and God, constantly battering us with notions of our separateness through sin and unworthiness. Hence, we try to bridge the gap through merit, achievement, worthiness, and personal righteousness. We try to earn our way back into God’s presence.
But God is not some vengeful, thunderbolt-wielding king sitting on a throne in yonder heavens, waiting for us to earn our way back into his good graces. God, in fact, is “not far from every one of us.” (Acts 17 27.) He is our very life force. “[I]n him we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28.) Try to voluntarily stop breathing, for example. God, who is the very breath of life inside of you, won’t let it happen! (Genesis 2:7; Genesis 7:22; Moses 3:4–7, 19; Abraham 5:7; Job 12:10; Job 33:4; Psalms 104:29; Isaiah 42:5; Ezekial 37:5; Zech. 12:1; Acts 17:25; Rev. 11:11.) He’s right there! On this point, we could learn much about getting in touch with God from the Eastern religions.
This discovery of who you really are, who you are a part of, who really owns you, and who really possesses you yields the “fruit” of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, [and] faith[.]” (Galatians 5:22.) Discovery of this fruit allows you to stop striving, stop pretending, stop competing, stop trying to keep up with the endless programs and checklists. It allows you to abandon the pursuit of perfection because you realize you are already enough! Change your consciousness from one where you are focused on your separateness from God to one where you are focused on your oneness with Him.
When you are in this state of consciousness and possessed like this, “ye hunger not, neither … thirst.” (Alma 32:42; John 6:35.) Perhaps you think the word “possessed” is too strong. But consider this explanation, taken from the same sermon in Alma 32:
“34 … that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
36 And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell[.]”
Digging deep to discover this inner light, this inner seed, this inner well (choose your metaphor) requires faith to believe in your own inherent goodness and then to give place for that goodness in your life in concrete ways. It requires you to let go of your ego, your pride, and your shadow self, which is focused on getting others to love you, and to get in touch with your true self, which is focused on giving and expressing love to others. Stop caring what others think of you. Start caring about what you think of others. Faith, to a large degree, is believing and trusting in who you already are and whose you already are. Faith is conscious participation with God in carrying out God’s desire to love the world. Faith is the courage to say “I don’t care” to much of the external requirements of religion, focusing instead on the internal work of getting in touch with your core identity and then living out its true purpose.
It’s not what you consume but what you produce that defines and discovers you.
Let me give you a shovel so you can start digging and tap in to this divine flow today. First, pause daily to deeply contemplate what it means to love others. Some people call this prayer. Let that count as prayer for you. Second, practice loving ways of being each day. Let that count as “repentance.” Third, consciously strive to recognize how many times each day you worry about what others will think of you and then let it go, choosing instead to focus on how you feel about others. Let me give you the following 5 steps to make it even more concrete for you:
- Awaken to the center of loving kindness inside of you by remembering a time or times you have felt God’s love flow in and through you, either towards yourself or towards someone else. Think of a time you have felt a strong sense of love and compassion. Search until you remember. Write these rememberings down if you need to.
- Once you remember being in that flow, bring to your consciousness someone you love very much and then contemplate a concrete way you can channel that very same flow of love to bless that person’s life in some small way. Carry out what you have contemplated. Do this daily. Don’t overextend yourself.
- Consciously repeat step 2 daily for each person that you consider as “close” or within your inner circle.
- When you have become more adept, experiment with extending the reach of your loving kindness beyond your inner circle, towards more casual acquaintances, then towards strangers, and then further yet to those outside any circle—your enemies.
- If you fail at step 4 (and you will), start over with step 1 instead of beating yourself up. This is not a contest. You are not trying to earn anything or repay anything. You are simply being who you really are. You are accomplishing the purpose of your existence merely by acting as a conduit of God’s love. Where you channel God’s love matters far less than the fact that God’s love is, in fact, being channeled through you.
Experiment upon this state of being for a while and see what happens. Do this if you are struggling with “sin” or addiction. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with you, focus on what’s right with you. Nurture your true self and your shadow self will disappear. Nurture how you feel about others and you’ll stop worrying so much about how others feel about you.
You will discover that it’s not what you consume but what you produce that defines and discovers you. God bless you in your soulful journey to discover who you really are and, thus, to discover God!