Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The Seventh Day: Eternal Life
my true love gave to me
seven swans a-swimming."
Eternal life is a tricky one. Most of us think of it as something we will get in the future, like an ultimate prize for righteousness. We love to joke about how much we can get away with and still "get into" heaven. Even within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we often talk about "making it" to the Celestial Kingdom.
Eternal life is more than just living forever. It is living as God lives. Eternal life is His life. To live as God lives we must be willing to be what He is. That is not some prize to be won, it is something to become. And face it, we don't know all that much about God.
What we do know is nearly impossible to understand.
The scriptures teach us a God that can sometimes seem contradictory. We have the God of Israel, often vengeful, dictatorial on one hand contrasted with the God of the New Testament, a God who sent His own Son as sacrifice. In the Book of Mormon and D&C, we see both the God of Love and the God of Justice.
As I have struggled to make sense of the things I am experiencing, desperate to find growth and meaning in the things I suffer, I look at it through this lens of God's nature. I know Him to be patient and swift to justice, loving and demanding, mourning and joyful.
In a life which has given me limited cause for joy, I have studied this concept of Eternal Life, especially in light of the commandment for us to be joyful. I struggle every day with feeling inadequate. But to see the promise of Eternal Life, even with no knowledge of how I will realize that blessing, gives me the strength I need to be a little more hopeful.
I am glad that I have been taught to see heaven as a state of progression, not just a reward for good behavior. Because of that, I have recognized that my Eternal Life has already begun. Here, in this world. And there can truly be no greater gift.