I was to teach the last lesson in the Gospel Principles book. Having never attended this class, or having no clue about who would attend or what the culture was like.... I went in really blind. I took a huge chance. And luckily or with some help, it turned out.
The lesson was on Exaltation. And shockingly for a lesson completely on the glory and purpose of the plan.... it was a pretty dang boring lesson. It literally went through all of the ordinances and commandments we have to keep in order to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. I don't know the last time you looked at a list like that, but it is quite daunting.
So, of course, I turned a game into it. Us vs the book. See if we could list all the the ordinances and commandments required to make it. It took the entire chalkboard. And I must say we did a pretty good job listing almost everything in the book.
Then I took a step back and looked at it and said, "Wow. This is pretty overwhelming. If I just stare at this huge long list it makes me feel weak, it makes me feel vulnerable, it makes me feel kinda hopeless. It's a lot God requires of us." And then I paused, looked over the board again, and then said, "Why? Why do we do it? Why do we despite our knowledge of never reaching perfection keep trying, keep working, keep pushing along trying to do what God wants us to do?"
It turned into a great discussion about the Savior and the Atonement and what is possible through Him.
And then we talked about heaven.
I think sometimes when we get so caught up in the list or the grind or the fight, we forget to take a step back and remember the purpose. Why we are doing it.
I then asked the class how we can keep the idea of heaven closer in our lives to remind us the purpose.
I've been thinking about this ever since class. Every time I look at this picture I think of heaven.
I know I've talked about it before. But really. I hope this is what heaven is like. I just stare at it all the time. I like to look at the people in the back that you can barely see. I like to look at the fun faces. I like to look at the joy. I like to look at the happiness. I like to look at the love. You know, I wish I could say I know my Heavenly Father and Savior more than I do. I wish I could remember Them. I wish that fighting so hard in this life was solely so I could return to be with Them. But like I said regretfully I don't know Them well enough, hopefully someday. But I am reminded of what my dad once said it a talk that has changed my perspective so much. He was talking about where he got his image of what the Savior looks like. He then told wonderful kind stories of people that he loved. Those acts of Christlike kindness and love is what helps him to know what the Savior is like. I look at this picture and feel so much love that it helps me want to make it to heaven so I can be with them and in turn, it helps me want to work hard to be with Them.
C.S. Lewis talks about how the descriptions in the scriptures we have of heaven are kinda lame. The idea of puffy clouds, piles of wealth, light or a pat on the back... but we all sense it, we all feel it, when it is still, when it is peaceful, when we are really aware... we all have this longing. He says some call it nostalgia or romance but really it's our desire to return to our Father.
I'm so grateful for that feeling. When I see a gorgeous sunset, listen to a beautiful melody, or watch an act of kindness I am so grateful for that little reminder of why we are here, what we are doing, and hopefully someday where we are going. Because the feeling of that picture.... The thought of feeling that forever, makes it all worth it.