I have a feeling the spirits in the premortal world know when they’re about to be born. They aren’t suddenly grabbed in the middle of a project or a meal, yanked away from loved ones, and thrust into mortality.
But going back again is another story. Some of us get warnings or have time to get our affairs in order. But most of us will be caught unaware, here one minute and then gone. Suddenly we’ll be greeting long lost ancestors and finding out what’s “on the other side.”
And I hope I’m not watching some insipid TV show. Or choking on some decadent goodie I shouldn’t have been eating in the first place. It’s not that we can’t relax and enjoy some recreation or treats now and then; I just don’t want that to be my final moment. I want to hit the veil running, in the midst of doing good, serving, and making my life matter to others. I think we all want that.
Think how many upbeat, energetic, good moments you have-whole days when you work in the temple, share the gospel, and lift others’ lives. Now think about the not-so-good days, the ones you’ll be repenting of this Sunday during Sacrament meeting: Moments when you lost your patience, times when you let the Adversary pull you into self-pity, minutes spent criticizing or envying. Sometimes we have an entire day when everything goes wrong and we sink into a bad mood. It’s part of the human experience.
But, before we turn that final page at bedtime, we need to fix it. We’ve all been told not to go to bed angry, but we shouldn’t go to bed with other negative emotions, either-we shouldn’t be resentful, jealous, selfish, dishonest, despairing, and on and on. Maybe it doesn’t hurt to ask ourselves, “If I died tonight, would I be happy with my actions today?” We may need to apologize, or forgive.
We may need to bare our souls to God and beg him to help us with our struggles. We may need to set goals for the new day, determined not to repeat past mistakes. But we should end on a high note. No matter what terrible events occurred, or how unwise our reactions might have been, we need to set our course properly and align our wants with God’s.
Elder Henry B. Eyring once gave an electrifying BYU Fireside entitled, “Child of Promise.” (link below) which I highly recommend to everyone in the world, literally. In this talk he shares an experience from his teen years: “It was morning, because I can remember the light coming through the small basement window. And I was in a hurry, another sign of morning. I don’t know whether I had been praying, but I felt, not heard, a voice. It was an impression, which I knew then was from God. It was this thought, and close to these words: Someday, when you know who you really are, you will be sorry you didn’t use your time better.’ I thought then that the impression was odd, since I thought I was using my time pretty well, and I thought I knew who I was. Now, years later, I am beginning to know who I am, and who you are, and why we will be so sorry if we do not invest our time well.”
Do our daily actions reflect our grasp of who we really are? Does someone with this much potential really squander their precious time the way we are all tempted to do? We all know those times when we are wasting, not utilizing, priceless minutes that, once gone, are gone for good. Are we choosing best, or settling for good, as we go about our day? I wonder how many minutes John or Jane Q. Public spends reading celebrity magazines, getting a tan, listening to trashy music lyrics, and shopping for items they can’t afford. Social media and hobbies consume more and more of our hours. Let’s face it, as a society we don’t always seek the most elevating material.
But as Latter-day Saints we know better. Sure, we struggle. But at least we have a roadmap. We have leaders and scriptures to guide us. We know about the glorious opportunity Christ gave us, to repent and improve. Not to employ these tools is doubly foolish, like the man who can read but won’t.
It’s hard to grab the wheel and take total control of our day-much of it is dictated by jobs, schooling, and family needs. But at those moments when the choice is ours, think about going to bed tonight, and whether this day will be one of your shining ones, just in case it really is your last.
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