Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Dear Sister G--------,
Have I mentioned to you lately how much I like your weekly status updates? Even setting aside how much I like you personally--even on top of that, you always have interesting stories that make me think. I was thinking this morning about your latest missive in which you describe a member's attempt to characterize the kingdoms of glory for her son. "Snakes! Fire! Worms!" It made me ponder how I would try to teach this principle to someone--just as I suppose it made you ponder the same.
Suppose I'm dealing with someone who spends time outdoors occasionally. I think I would explain it something like this:
First imagine that you are outside in the mountains. It is cold, and wet, and muddy, and miserable. You can try to seek shelter under a tree but it is still wet and miserable, and you can dig a hole in the ground, but with only your bare hands as tools you cannot make yourself very comfortable. I will compare this to outer darkness.
Now imagine that someone takes you to a concrete bunker. Inside this bunker there is no rain and no wind. There is a shower facility with hot water that lets you get the mud off, and there is temperature control and a sleeping bag and a few cans of baked beans for you to eat. Maybe there is even an automatic dishwasher. Compared to where you were before, this is great! I will compare this to the telestial kingdom, which is the lowest of the kingdoms of glory.
Now imagine that someone takes you from that bunker to a large mansion. You have nice furniture, a swimming pool, a fancing dining room where your friends can come and visit you. You have a pantry stocked with good things to eat, and a kitchen with all the latest electric appliances for your convenience. Upstairs you have fancy bedrooms with soft feather beds for you and your guests. There are recreation rooms filled with gadgets and gizmos and entertainment centers and every kind of play-box and x-box and other electronic device. Compared to where you were, this is fantastic! I will compare this to the terrestrial kingdom, which is a higher kingdom of glory than the telestial.
Now imagine that someone takes you from that mansion to a high-tech mansion factory. In this place you have comforts not only for yourself and your friends comparable to the mansion, but you have the capability to actually construct mansions for your friends and your children. There are drafting machines and automated diggers, and 3D printers, and solar-powered tractors, and robots that can make anything you can imagine. Compared to where you were, this is magical! I will compare this to the celestial kingdom, where God dwells.
Now I want you to realize something about all of these places in my story. They each have requirements, and so it is with the kingdoms of glory.
To move from a muddy hole in the woods to the clean bunker, you must be willing to accept help from someone else. You cannot be too proud. Likewise the scripture says (D&C 88:32-33) that those who refuse to accept Christ's gifts must remain in outer darkness and not in a kingdom of glory, because they will not receive that which has been given to them.
In order to move from the bunker to the mansion, you must be prepared to take care of nice things--you must know how to take care of swimming pools, and vacuum floors, and make beds. Otherwise your mansion will not remain a mansion for long. Likewise the scriptures say (D&C 76:98, 103) that those who break the commandments, who lie and steal and commit adultery, cannot come into the terrestrial kingdom but remain in the telestial kingdom.
To move from the mansion to the mansion factory, you must be prepared to utilize the tools in the factory. You must be someone who has a desire to build and discover and create things to serve others--otherwise the tools will go unused and you might as well just have stayed in the mansion! I cannot fully describe the celestial kingdom because I cannot see it now, but I do know this: the scriptures say (D&C 76:55-59, 70) that they will dwell with God and receive all things, and become "gods, even the sons [and daughters] of God," and that only those who are valiant in the testimony of Jesus can dwell there. And I know that the work and the glory of God is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," so I know that those who are in the celestial kingdom must also be those who are dedicated to that work.
And I think that's pretty much how I would describe the kingdoms of glory.
And now for a quick snippet, here is something that a friend of mine wrote on Facebook about her boys. [Names changed]
This morning while checking pockets in jeans, so I could throw them in the wash, I smiled when I realized that I could tell who's jeans were who's just by the contents of their pockets. Andy's pocket are always full of candy wrappers, Kyle's have knives, or some sharp object in them, Brian's have lego men. A pocket size glimpse into their personalities.
Max adds: Something left in a pocket is so ordinary and everyday that you probably never even think about it. It's just a consequence of the life you live every day. When the Savior comes, what will he find in my pockets?
Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.
I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honor more.
Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.
If you're so evil, eat this kitten!