By Susan E.
Lately I have been hyper-aware of the fact that the world has nothing to offer us for eternity. Let me describe what I mean by “the world” and by “eternity.” If you are not a Latter-day Saint, a little background might help you understand what I am trying to illustrate.
“The world” is a term that I like to use for pretty much everything we see in our world. It includes the fashion magazines showing me which hairstyles and types of clothing I should be wearing this season. It includes the latest and greatest entertainment technology. It includes the many commercials and ads that bombard me at every turn, trying to interest me in buying the newest car or getting plastic surgery to enhance my appearance. The world is basically the realm of everything that is offered by the world and available for purchase with money.
We have all heard the old saying that when you die you can’t take anything with you. This is an appropriate segway into my description of what is eternal. Eternally we can only take a few things.
We can take all the knowledge that we have gained in this lifetime. We will also have the same personality and attitude when we cross over into the after-life. If we have addictions here, we will still have them there, but it will be embarrassing and frustrating, since we will not be able to actually fulfill those addictions and, with futility, we will try anyway. We will also have all of our relationships that we have here on the earth. That is why it is crucial to make sure our relationships are wholesome and respectful. Since everyone we meet on this earth will live for eternity, it would do us well to take care of our relationships.
Being here in this world gives all of us an opportunity to sift through what is good and what is pointless, what is helpful and what is wicked. We have different situations we must endure and a plethora of decisions to make all along the way. Bad things do happen to good people, and what we do with those things is our test. It is also our opportunity to grow and become someone better than we were before that happened. If we mess up the first time around, Jesus Christ, our advocate with God Almighty, our Father in Heaven, has provided a way for us to change our ways and to get it right the next time.
If we live only in “the world,” we miss out on some of the greatest epiphanies that would have been ours if we had given some time and thought to our spiritual self and our spiritual well-being. An “epiphany” is a sudden realization that changes the way we look at things, and many such moments of enlightenment come directly from God.
It does seem a little overwhelming that the God of heaven and earth is aware of me as an individual. Sometimes I just want to ignore that fact and bury myself in my work or in playing video games. I mean, for me to think that the same eternal and omnipotent God who created Cleopatra and Socrates and the dinosaurs and an unlimited amount of great leaders in history, also created me and knows me by name is just a bit over the top. He knew me before I was born. He knows me now. He knows all the stupid mistakes I have made. He knows what I am going to do next. He knows I am writing this article. He knows how and when I am going to die. He knows if I have love in my heart for my fellow man. When I kneel to pray to this God, the father of Jesus, my Heavenly Father, who knows everything about me (and you), I sometimes don’t know what to say. I figure I am wasting His time and mine because He already knows what I am going to say.
Am I going to ask for a new car or a good plastic surgeon? Should I ask for a lot of money to fall into my lap so I can buy a big house or a boat? Do those things really matter when I am talking to the most illustrious of all beings in the Universe as we know it?
And here’s what I know to be true: I know that He hears my prayers. A reverent awe comes over me, as I recollect the many prayers which He has answered. I have had many prayers answered that could not have been coincidence. I also know that when seemingly bad things have happened in my life, there was a reason for them. I know, in retrospect, that I grew from those experiences, even though at the time they were very hard to endure. The other day my sister said to me, “You seem very peaceful.” I think it is because I am realizing that most of what I normally worry about in this world is insignificant when I consider eternity and my eternal existence. I am learning to live with me and what I will take with me, when it is my time to meet God face to face. I don’t think it will be very soon. I am just starting to get it.
So, when I say that the world has nothing to offer us for eternity, I mean that there is a bigger picture, if only we can let ourselves recognize God in our lives. He does love us. He does know us. And I saw a billboard by the side of the road last week that said “When we die, we will see God.” That’s all it said. What a great reminder that He is there for us and we will see Him again! How much it will make our lives more robust and full, if we can start to “see” that God is there for us and that the things of this world have little value in the long run, eternally.