There have been a few deaths, sudden ones, either close to my life or that I’ve heard about recently, that have gotten me thinking. As I’ve heard people talk about these people who have died, the lives they lived and the type of people they are, I’ve thought that while their deaths are sad for those of us left behind, that those people were probably ready to die and won’t have any problems spiritually on the other side. These were people who were living the best lives they could. They were not actively rebelling against God. They were striving to keep the covenants they had made with God. Were they perfect? No. But other than Jesus none of us will ever be perfect in this life, that’s what the rest of the eternities are for.
My life has several wrinkles in it. But the important thing is that I’m trying to iron them out. I’m not just saying “well, it is who I am and I’ll just go with the frumpy look and God will be okay with that because he understands.” And I’m not purposefully ironing more creases into my life either. I’ve come across several fabrics in my sewing days that no matter how much heat I used, no matter how much steam I used, no matter how hard I pressed, there was always the slight memory of wrinkles in the fabric that just would not go away. But I kept trying. There are wrinkles like that in my life. But I’m still pushing hard and I’m still letting God heat them up and add steam and I know that in the next life we’ll find a better iron that can get them out.
In designing this mortal existence, our loving Heavenly Father is not like a statistics professor I had. The professor purposefully designed tests that nobody could pass, that the majority of people would fail miserably. According to statistics, that’s the only way to find out exactly how much people know because if people do well on a test then you don’t know how much better they could’ve done. Heavenly Father’s whole work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). If he wants us to all have eternal life then he’s not going to create a test that would keep us from gaining it. And Heavenly Father can do that because he knows us all so perfectly that he can design perfectly individualized tests for each of us that will show us (because he already knows) exactly how much we know.
Several years ago I read a book titled “Odds Are, You’re Going to be Exalted” and the message of it was so simple and beautiful. Another awesome reference on the subject is the talk “Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?” by Elder J. Devn Cornish from the most recent General Conference. The idea that only a few people will be exalted and that our personal odds are basically zero is a lie from Satan and needs to be called out as such.
If we morally succeed in mortality, do all we can, keep the commandments and our covenants, strive for our very best, then is his grace sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9, Ether 12:27, Moroni 10:32, Doctrine & Covenants 17:8), then the grace of God will provide all the help we need to iron out those last wrinkles. Elder Bednar taught, “Grace is the divine assistance or heavenly help each of us desperately needs to qualify for the celestial kingdom” (“The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” April 2012 General Conference). As our Father, God wants nothing more then for us to return to Him and be with Him forever. He offered the life of his Son in exchange for ours. He’s not going to make it impossible for us to return. We can and will be exalted.
If I were to die right now it would really suck for my family. But I have faith in the grace of God. I’m doing my best to iron out my wrinkles and I’m striving to keep the covenants I’ve made with God. I’d be okay on the other side.