Many of us have heard of the importance of preparing for what lies ahead. Whether it is a meeting tomorrow or a vacation next week, there is a need to be prepared. The following quote by Benjamin Franklin tells us exactly why preparation is important: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
There are times in life that failure is simply a push to try again. However, there are other times when failure to prepare can reap drastic consequences. Preparing ahead of time applies to many areas of our lives. If we want to bake a delicious chocolate cake, we must insure that we have all the ingredients available. If we desire to do well on a final exam, we must do the necessary assignments, studying, and practice exams. If we plan to enjoy beautiful gardens, we must prepare the soil as well as the plants. If we want to be prepared to meet God, we must listen to the prophets who warn us of the importance of preparing ourselves for life after death. An ancient American prophet by the name of Alma gives the following explanation.
For behold I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the, 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.
And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 34:32-33).
Alma is telling us that the period of time between our birth and our death is a time of testing and trial to determine where we want to spend eternity. We cannot spend our lives eating, drinking, and being merry and then expect to be prepared to pass into the next life prepared to enter the glory of God.
Preparing to meet God is not a small thing. It is something that takes a lifetime of effort and sacrifice. Prophets ask us to increase our faith in Jesus Christ and call us to repentance in preparation to meet God. One such prophet is Joseph Smith who taught the following.
God has in reserve a time, or period appointed in His own bosom, when He will bring all His subjects, who have obeyed His voice and kept His commandments, into His celestial rest. This rest 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. This being the fact, God has given certain laws to the human family, which, if observed, are sufficient to prepare them to inherit this rest. This, then, we conclude, was the purpose of God in giving His laws to us…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 54).
We know that God has given laws and has commanded us to obey them. We also know that joy and happiness come to us when we obey God’s laws; therefore, we can assume that God gave us laws to help us become successful with the purpose of life. Then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tells us that God’s “hope for us is eternal life.” He continues this thought.
We qualify for [eternal life] by obedience to covenants and ordinances of the temple – for ourselves, our families, and our ancestors. We cannot be made perfect without them. We cannot wish our way into the presence of God. We are to obey the laws upon which those blessings are predicated….
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 … 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. 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.” (See “Now Is the Time to Prepare,” Ensign, May 2005.)
We must prepare ourselves in order to be worthy to be in the presence of God. Having lost four members of my family since last September, I know, as does Elder Nelson, that those left behind are comforted by knowing that their loved one has prepared well for their graduation from this life. Elder Nelson lost his beloved wife of 59 years just months before he gave this talk. He knows that faith, hope, and love bring comfort to surviving loved ones.