Who Can Find the Perfect Teacher?
Perhaps the biggest shock of my life came early in adulthood when I graduated from college and began teaching high school. I was staggered that so many faculty had so many awful things to say about the students they taught. I began avoiding the faculty lounge to avoid hearing such dismissive and hostile assessments of the people we were appointed and paid to serve.
A Different Attitude
I contrast that disappointing attitude with my Aunt Mary’s. She taught elementary school for many years. When the teachers met before the beginning of a new school year to assign students to classes, there was inevitably a veiled attempt by most teachers to push troubled and troublesome students into other teachers’ classes. Aunt Mary always grabbed them for her class. She might say something like “I know he gets in trouble but I think he just needs a little love. May I have him in my class?”
Aunt Mary saw goodness in all the little children she served. Through the school year, when one method didn’t work with a child, she tried another. And another. I never saw her give up on a child.
The quality and effectiveness of teachers might be judged by how well they help their students fill the measure of their creation. Aunt Mary did not require that every child excel at reading or math. Some children would always struggle with certain subjects. But she helped all the children in her care learn everything they were willing and able to learn.
Aunt Mary showed the same kind of grace and kindness to Alan and me even after we nearly incinerated all of southern Utah near her home. She didn’t chide or scold us. She knew that life had already administered a memorable lesson to two humbled boys. She simply turned on the sprinklers and asked if we would like to cool off.
Aunt Mary is a lot like God. He takes every one of His children and works with him or her until that child is everything He can be. He describes His unrelenting efforts to bless us better than I can:
Even after He has gone to all that trouble and we still aren’t willing to become His disciples, He does not cast us off. He does not consign us to the slag pit to writhe in pain everlastingly.
No. He hauls off all the sins that we will let Him take. Then He allows us to pay for those sins we will not surrender. If we want our sins more than we want His goodness, He will let us carry the associated burdens. But, once our sins are paid for-once Justice is satisfied–He will assign us to a degree of glory where we will have the perfect opportunity to use every skill, talent, and gift He could draw out of our eternal natures. Through His perfect ministering, we will all fill the measure of our creation and have joy therein.
Even career sinners-liars, sorcerers, adulterers, and whoremongers-will ultimately be placed in a degree of glory that surpasses all understanding! It is hard to comprehend a Teacher so good and so helpful that He will find a joyous place for the school bully, the troublemaker, the cheater, and even the school shooter.
Hard to imagine! Who can comprehend His relentless redemptiveness? Try to picture the attitude of a career criminal who, in the Spirit World, has had to face the terrible costs and consequences of his misdeeds. How surprised do you think he will be when the price is paid and he finds himself in a place better than anything we can imagine? Surely even his knees will bow and his tongue confess that God is kind beyond description.
Those who are headed to the Terrestrial kingdom may get a double surprise. This group may include some like the Pharisees who “trust in themselves that they are righteous” because they work so hard to conspicuously keep the commandments. They will get the first surprise in the Spirit World when they see that their righteousness could not save them. They failed to “believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:18). If, even then, they receive Jesus reluctantly, they will go to a degree of glory that surpasses in all respects even the unimaginably-good Telestial glory. That is their second and most remarkable surprise.
The Biggest Surprise
Now the biggest surprise of all: Jesus seems to suggest (Luke 18:9-14) that confessed sinners like the publican will be justified; they may be set right and be brought into the presence of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Won’t they be astonished!
Of course they are not rewarded for their sins. But when our sins stir humility and when that humility sends us to Jesus, we can be perfected.
When humble repenters find themselves as partners with God in the Celestial work, the Heavens will ring with surprised joy! I love to picture the humble, unassuming saints we know who have trusted God. I can picture them bewildered and amazed that God would invite such ordinary people to His glory.
So, where is the place for regret in this great plan? We who have so many regrets imagine that eternity is likewise full of them. I don’t believe it. I believe that every person (except sons of perdition) will be amazed at God goodness, greatness, and grace.
As the Prophet Joseph observed, “we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right” (TPJS, p.218). God is the perfect Teacher. He will help each of us receive all the glory and opportunity that we are willing to receive.
I join with Ammon: