Pondering is an interesting journey as it allows your mind to go many places. Look at the 138th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants as President Joseph F. Smith records a vision given him. He said in verse 1, “I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures” and in verse 11, “As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened….” There is something wonderful that can happen when we sit alone and ponder challenges, questions, problems, and a myriad of other thoughts. Most of us have experienced the eyes of our understanding being opened and clear new thoughts or approaches come as a result of our quietly pondering for answers.
One day while reviewing the many roads we have traveled, the thought came, “What will it be like to face the Lord at the bar of justice?” “What will He Ask?” “What will I say?” As I (Gary) thought about this, different things I have read came to mind.
What Would It be Like?
Will it be like the experience President George Albert Smith had in a dream after his call to be an apostle. He saw his grandfather, George A. Smith, who had died when George Albert was age 5, coming toward him. His grandfather stopped and asked, “I would like to know what you have done with my name.” Pres Smith stated, “Everything I had ever done passed before me as though it were a flying picture on a screen-everything I had done. Quickly this vivid retrospect came down to the very time I was standing there. My whole life had passed before me. I smiled and looked at my grandfather and said: I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.’ He stepped forward and took me in his arms……” (Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 134.)
Then came the thought, will the Savior ask each of us the same question? Every Sunday when we partake of the sacrament and the prayer on the bread says. “….and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them….” (B of M Moroni 4:3) Will we be able to answer as President Smith?
My mind then went to a couple of books that impressed me about near death experiences. Joyce Brown in her book Heavenly Answers for Earthly Challenges (Jemstar Press, Oct 1997, p 87) tells of being aware of a Being of Light who loved her in spite of the mistakes she had made and felt His love was complete, all-knowing, and unconditional .She said, “A great question then emanated from Him to me so strongly that it completely penetrated my being. In life, what did you do with what you had?'”
In the book, Return From Tomorrow (Chosen Books; Jul 1978, p 52), George G. Ritchie tells of his near death experience where he is standing in the room with his body seeing all of his life projected on the walls of the room with a Being of Light standing next to him, and George felt nothing but pure love. George was able to see all he had done in his life. “And with all this all-inclusive view came a question. It was implicit in every scene and, like the scenes themselves, seemed to proceed from the living light beside me. What did you do with your life?'”
During a conversation with my brother, Jay Lundberg, he said that he had decided the question God would ask us at the bar of justice. This intrigued me so I impatiently asked what the question was. He said, “Then what did you do?”
In the Bible Matthew 7:21 we read, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
In the Book of Abraham (P of GP) 3:25, The Lord said, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;” and in D & C 98:14, “Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy.
The Key Word
In all of the examples given above there is one key word and that is “do.” What we “do” defines who we are. This brings to mind Nephi’s statement. “I will go and do….” (1Nephi 3:7) and Abraham’s responding to “do” what the Lord asked him to do in sacrificing his son, the brother of Jared building the barges when asked to “do” it, Moses responding when asked to lead the children of Israel, and Joseph Smith doing all the things he was asked to do to restore the gospel to the earth. The greatest example is Jesus Christ. In John 4:34 the Savior said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” He choose from the very beginning to do the will of the Father. And at the end of his mortal life he said, “Not as I will. But as thou wilt.”(Matt 26:39). The list could go on and on throughout history of those that have done the “doing.”
Pondering this a little more, the thought came that we will be asked to report on our individual stewardship of the gift we fought a battle for in the preexistence-agency, the right to choose. God, the Father, gave us the greatest gift of trust when His plan was based on our opportunity to learn and choose. The war in heaven shows this gift is an eternal principle. The Garden of Eden was the first celebration, on this earth, of this gift and the gift has continued through all history. Because of this gift, it brought about the need and mission of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our own life history is our demonstration of what we have done with this gift.
What Will We Be Like After Death?
This question might cause us to look deeper in to ourselves. In the Mormon 9:14 we read, “And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.”
In April of 2000, Elder Dallin Oaks gave a talk on Resurrection . He said, “The assurance of resurrection also gives us a powerful incentive to keep the commandments of God during our mortal lives. Resurrection is much more than merely reuniting a spirit to a body held captive by the grave. We know from the Book of Mormon that the resurrection is a restoration that brings back “carnal for carnal” and “good for that which is good” (Alma 41:13).
The prophet Amulek taught, “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” (Alma 34:34). As a result, when persons leave this life and go on to the next, “they who are righteous shall be righteous still” (Ne. 9:16), and “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life … will rise with us in the resurrection” (D&C 130:18).
“The principle of restoration also means that persons who are not righteous in mortal life will not rise up righteous in the resurrection (see Ne. 9:16; Cor. 15:35-44; &C 88:27-32). Moreover, unless our mortal sins have been cleansed and blotted out by repentance and forgiveness (see Alma 5:21; Ne. 9:45-46; &C 58:42), we will be resurrected with a “bright recollection” (Alma 11:43) and a “perfect knowledge of all of our guilt, and our uncleanness” (Ne. 9:14).”
All of this seems to say we will rise in the resurrection the way we choose to be.
How Will We be Judged?
Pondering this question is important so we each can understand what will be used to account for our life. Chapter 46 (The Final Judgement) in Gospel Principles helps in understanding this process. We are reminded that the books recorded in heaven and on this earth will be available. With wide eyed wonderment comes the question, “How is this possible?” Then we can begin to understand that if we have the powerful Internet browsers that draw on things written far and wide, think of how powerful the heavenly browser is in searching without bounds.
Further in that chapter is the following, “There is another record that will be used to judge us. The Apostle Paul taught that we ourselves are a record of our life (see Romans 2:15). Stored in our body and mind is a complete history of everything we have done. President John Taylor taught this truth: [The individual] tells the story himself, and bears witness against himself. … That record that is written by the man himself in the tablets of his own mind, that record that cannot lie will in that day be unfolded before God and angels, and those who shall sit as judges’ (Deseret News, Mar. 8, 1865, 179).”
One of the comforting teachings in this process comes from the Prophet Joseph Smith in acknowledging that not all will be held equally responsible for personal mortal acts. He taught that God “will judge them, “not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,’ those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law” (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 218)
All of this combines to give our own total personal history. Because we spend much of our life in a competitive atmosphere, our pondering may bring up the question, “Who will we be compared with?” Because this is a personal history, we will only see and be accountable for our choices compared to what we knew and what we had available. Each of us will observe and say without excuse, “That is what I chose to do.” This seems to be a lonely place and position to be.
In pondering the aloneness of this situation comes the sweetness of a couple of scriptures: “Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father..” (D&C 29:) and “Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him.” (D&C 45:)
He is my personal advocate, the one who will plead in my behalf, who is my champion, upholder, supporter, proponent, who would be my spokesman in my weakness if I will let Him. It is He that will know the desires of my heart, my intentions, and will know all that is written on the tablets of my mind. He knows what I have repented of and where His atonement applies in my life. Oh what joy, what relief to know He knows me so specifically and totally and will stand beside me. To know He has paid a price that only He could, and, if I will accept it, His atonement will encompass me in His love and forgiveness.
Yes pondering can open the eyes of our personal understanding and can bring peace and resolve to do the best we can. That is what Jesus Christ, our Savior asks of us.