Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Now is the Time

Have you ever had a moment when you become philosophical and you find yourself reviewing your life the good and the bad?  They say most people have those moments when they are transitioning from this life to the next.
During my Institute days one of my most favorite scripture passage was,

"For behold this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors...if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the darkness wherein there can be no labor performed..."

Last year in June, I had a severe asthma attack at work.  My rescue inhaler did not do a thing to ease my inability to breath.  The nurse I was working with started to panic and so I related to her that I was just going to step outside and try to get some fresh air and see if that would help alleviate my difficulty breathing.

As I was sitting outside trying to catch my breath, I heard my mother calling to me and I felt the cold fingers of death reaching out towards me.

In that instant the thought ran through my mind, "Are your ready to meet God?"  The last few years of my life started running through my mind and I could honestly say I was not afraid to meet my maker that day.  I remember thinking, "Well, I have done the best I can with what I have and ready or not Lord here I come."

A great peace came over me and I found myself calm and collected and then I heard a voice that I recognized and loved so very much, "What About Bob?"  Then my mind was flooded with  memories of Bob and I again felt this surge of love come over me for him and knew that now was not the time for me to leave him.  So I began pleading with my Father in Heaven to help me find the strength to overcome so that I could be healed.

With Heavens help I made it home that day so that my husband could get me to the ER. 
It took me over two weeks to recover from that attack.

As I was reflecting on that day another day came to my mind when I was not prepared to meet my maker.  I can't remember the day but I shall never forget the year it was 1991 and we had found out we were pregnant.  We were both so excited but I was having complications.  My provider at the time told me, "you are just trying to miscarry, if you stay off your feet you should be fine."
 I followed his advice and unfortunately I was not fine. 
Our baby was in my Right tube and in the wee hours of the morning my tube ruptured.
Bob had went to work as usual thinking I would be okay.

That day I was not okay.  By the time he got home I was at deaths door.
The ambulance that picked me up thought I was 8 months pregnant when
I was only two.

I felt the iciness of death and I must say I was not the least bit calm.
 I remember yelling at the ER nurse, "I'm dying and your not doing a darn thing to save me."
 I was in panic mode.
Then the blackness set in.
My next memory was me on this beautiful hill visiting with loved ones. 
I still remember the beauty and love I felt.  
They got up to leave and told me it was time for me to go back.  
I remember pleading with them that I did not want to go back but wanted to stay there with them.  
They then looked away from me and pointed and asked, "what about him?"
I found my gaze following their pointing finger and
 I saw my husband sitting on this bench and I could feel his heart breaking.  
I felt this surge of love for him and found myself thinking, "I can't bear to see him hurting like that."

My next memory was waking up in this dark room trying to scream but couldn't because there was something wrong with my throat.  I then felt a familiar hand holding mine and heard my favorite guy talking about how much better I looked.  I tried to talk to him but I was still in this haze and just could not find my way out.

Here lately I have felt some whispering that I need to make some changes in my life and get back to what really matters in this life as to what is just a distraction and leaves one empty.
When I first heard that whisper I found myself thinking, "I'm all right with this.
I have nothing to fear as long as I focus
on what truly matters."  
So, I have been making changes one day at a time one step at a time. 

I know what I truly love and as I have been trying to fulfill my dreams of what I love I am finding the Lord gently saying, "no not this way."  So I do my pouting and asking "but why?"  
And I can see Him smiling as He gently says, "You'll figure it out."  
So, I keep plugging along trying different avenues.  
I have run into a couple of dead end streets and have had to turn back and re-examine my goals but as long as I keep moving forward I will hear Him one day say, "This is where I needed you to be."

I remember when I first heard Elder Nelson give this talk in Conference.  His words seem fitting for what I am journeying through at this time.  I have found great comfort and pearls of wisdom within his words.
I only hope that I can leave a behind a fingerprint of a legacy as she did.  She was remarkable woman.

Now Is the Time to Prepare

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Russell M. Nelson
Now is the time to prepare to meet God. Tomorrow may be too late.
My dear brethren and sisters, since our last general conference, my sweetheart—my beloved wife for 59 years—passed away. While I was at home on a rare Saturday with no assignment, we had worked together. She had washed our clothing. I had helped to carry it, fold it, and put it in place. Then while we were sitting on the sofa, holding hands, enjoying a program on television, my precious Dantzel slipped peacefully into eternity. Her passing came suddenly and unexpectedly. Just four days earlier, our doctor’s report at a routine checkup indicated that her laboratory tests were good. After my efforts to revive her proved fruitless, feelings of shock and sorrow overwhelmed me. My closest friend, angel mother of our 10 children, grandmother of our 56 grandchildren, had been taken from us.
Dantzel was not only a loved and loving companion. She was a teacher: by her noble example, she taught faith, virtue, obedience, and mercy. She taught me how to listen and to love. Because of her, I know all the blessings that can come to a husband, father, and grandfather.
With deep gratitude, I acknowledge the tremendous outpouring of love from dear friends across the world. Countless letters, calls, cards, and other messages have been sent. All tributes expressed loving admiration for her and sympathy for us whom she left behind. Those messages came in such large numbers that we, regretfully, were unable to respond to all of them individually. May I thank each and all for your great kindness toward us. Thank you so very, very much. Your expressions have brought much comfort through this time of heartache for our family. We really love dear Dantzel! We miss her!
From her sudden departure we can learn a very important lesson: now is the time to prepare to meet God. Tomorrow may be too late. Prophets through the ages have so declared: “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God. … Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.”1

The Need to Prepare Now

Yet many do procrastinate. 2 A prophet warns us: “Ye cannot say … that Iwill repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will … possess your body in that eternal world.” 3Another prophet adds, “He that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still.” 4
Great is the knowledge that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain … in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” 5 From the Prophet Joseph Smith we also learn that “God has … a time … appointed … when He will bring all His subjects, who have obeyed His voice and kept His commandments, into His celestial rest. This rest 6 is of such perfection and glory, that man has need of a preparation before he can, according to the laws of that kingdom, enter it and enjoy its blessings. … God has given certain laws to the human family, which, if observed, are sufficient to prepare them to inherit this rest.” 7 Sister Nelson was so prepared!
That glorious goal seems mighty distant if one is discouraged by worldly trouble and gloom. I remember when a friend having a difficult day exclaimed, “Oh, why was I ever born?” God’s plan answers his question. We came into this life to acquire a physical body. We may fall in love and be married. We may have children and experience the trials of mortal life. (Please forgive me for mentioning children and the trials of life in the same breath. I sense that they are both part of our growing process.) The Church was restored—the earth was created—so that those families could be sealed in holy temples. Otherwise, the whole earth would be “utterly wasted.” 8
We came to be tried, to be tested, and to choose. 9 Our decisions determine our destiny. We are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator … , or to choose captivity and death.” 10 Those who choose the Lord’s way will likely endure persecution. 11 But their reward is certain. Those who prove faithful “shall inherit the kingdom of God, … and their joy shall be full forever.” 12 Sister Nelson has earned that reward. What comfort that brings to me and our family!
Trials and tests apply to rich and poor alike. Years ago, I was asked to perform an operation upon a very wealthy man. A surgical biopsy confirmed that he had an advanced cancer that had spread throughout his body. As I reported this news, his immediate response was to rely upon his wealth. He would go anywhere or do anything to treat his condition. He thought he could buy his way back to health. But he soon passed away. Someone asked, “How much wealth did he leave?” The answer, of course, was, “All of it!”
His priorities were set upon things of the world. His ladder of success had been leaning against the wrong wall. I think of him when I read this scripture: “Behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is … too late.” 13
In radiant contrast, Sister Nelson prepared throughout her life for the time when she would return to God. She lived each day as though it were her last. She cherished every hour, knowing that time on earth is precious.
Some people live as if there were no day of reckoning. Others waste today’s time with a disabling fear of tomorrow or a paralyzing preoccupation over mistakes of yesterday. Each of us might well heed the words of a poet, as posted on a sundial:
The shadow by my finger cast
Divides the future from the past:
Before it, sleeps the unborn hour,
In darkness, and beyond thy power:
Behind its unreturning line,
The vanished hour, no longer thine:
One hour alone is in thy hands,—
The NOW on which the shadow stands. 14

How Do We Prepare?

Now is the time. But how do we prepare? Begin with repentance! Scripture declares, “If ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; … no unclean thing can dwell with God.” 15 He gave this simple rule: “Except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.” 16
Now is the time to show reverent respect for one’s physical body. It serves as the tabernacle for one’s spirit throughout all eternity. Physical appetites are to be controlled by the will of one’s spirit. We are to “deny [our]selves of all ungodliness.” 17 We are to “forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, [and] live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.” 18
Because of frequent and frightening calamities in the world, some people doubt the existence of God. But, in fact, He is trying to help us. He revealed these words: “How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and … tempests, … earthquakes, … great hailstorms, … famines and pestilences of every kind, … and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” 19
His hope for us is eternal life. We qualify for it by obedience to covenants and ordinances of the temple—for ourselves, our families, and our ancestors. We cannot be made perfect without them. 20 We cannot wishour way into the presence of God. We are to obey the laws upon which those blessings are predicated. 21
God’s plan is fair. Even those “who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.” 22 His plan is also merciful. He “will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.” 23
Now is the time to enroll our names among the people of God. This we do by paying tithing. He tithes His people to bless them. 24 Sister Nelson taught that lesson to our family, over and over again. 25
Now is the time to align our goals with God’s goals. His work and His glory—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” 26 —can become ours. Of temple marriage the Savior declared, “If a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, … [they] shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, … exaltation and glory in all things.” 27 We are to emulate the example of the Lord, to love as He did, to pray as He did, and to endure to the end as He did. 28

Importance of Death in God’s Eternal Plan

Death is a necessary component of our eternal existence. No one knows when it will come, but it is essential to God’s great plan of happiness. 29Thanks to the Atonement of the Lord, eventual resurrection is a reality and eternal life is a possibility for all humankind. 30 That possibility becomes a reality as we obey God’s law. He said, “Except ye shall keep my commandments, … ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”31 One day we will be judged by the Lord 32 and go to our own mansion prepared in our Father’s heavenly house. 33 Celestial glory awaits those who have been faithful to God’s gentle commands. 34
Brothers and sisters, we live to die and we die to live—in another realm. If we are well prepared, death brings no terror. From an eternal perspective, death is premature only for those who are not prepared to meet God.
Now is the time to prepare. Then, when death comes, we can move toward the celestial glory that Heavenly Father has prepared for His faithful children. Meanwhile, for sorrowing loved ones left behind—such as our family and me—the sting of death is soothed by a steadfast faith in Christ, a perfect brightness of hope, a love of God and of all men, and a deep desire to serve them. 35 That faith, that hope, that love will qualify us to come into God’s holy presence and, with our eternal companions and families, dwell with Him forever. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

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