Recently, I watched the movie, “17 Miracles” that depicted the Saints coming across the plains to Utah. I was deeply moved by the many sacrifices they made, even the loss of their own lives in some cases.
We are quick to feel sorrow for those who died along the trail, those who never made it to their intended destination. We feel for their loss, their missed opportunity, because that’s the way it appears to our temporal understanding—that they missed the prize at the end of the journey.
But when we look again with spiritual eyes, we realize that every one of those who died along the way actually arrived safely at the destination God appointed for them. They are safely at their final destination. Death was not a tragedy for those who died knowing God.
I believe there is only one tragedy in this life—coming to the end of it without ever having awakened to God.
You’ll often hear this statement in Twelve Step meetings: Some people have to die to get sober.
It seems like a painfully honest thing to say, but it is also a truth supported by the Restored Gospel. According to the prophets, having a “sober-mind” is the result of turning to God and living one’s life in conscious contact with Him.
If turning back to God is one way of defining repentance, then all of us will someday repent (return to God), even if on our deathbed—or beyond it. It may be, in some cases, that “works meet for repentance” (Alma 9:30) will have to be accomplished on the other side. Some people dispute this belief, but it is the core truth of the Restored Gospel’s call to perform the ordinance of baptism for those who are dead. Ordinances for the dead are based solidly on the fact that a person can bring forth “fruit meet for repentance” and thus enter into the rest of the Lord even after they are dead (Alma 13:13).
I rejoice continually in the way the Gospel and the principles of the Twelve Steps of recovery harmonize and enhance each other.
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