“…wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins.” (2 Nephi 9:38)
This verse is immediately preceded by a list of sins and their terrible consequences—specifically hell and damnation. I think one of the reasons we are so strongly advised to repent in this life is not so much because it’s impossible to repent in the next one, but so that we can avoid the miseries of hell.
I remember once when I was about 19, I was home from college for the summer. My mother and I had planned to go to Homemaking night together and make t-shirts. I can’t remember what happened, but for some reason, she was unable to go so I was borrowing her sewing machine and preparing to go alone.
The sewing machine I have now has the handle on the top of the machine itself. The handle goes through a slit in the carry case, so you’re actually holding onto the machine as you carry it. Her machine wasn’t like that. The handle was on the carry case, which fastened to the base of the sewing machine with two large clasps.
As I was about to leave, Mom reminded me to double check the clasps on the case to make sure they were fastened tight and correctly. I had just fastened them and felt there was no need to check them. She kept ‘nagging’ at me to check them, telling me if both clasps were not completely and tightly fastened, the machine would fall out of the carry case when I picked it up.
I looked at the clasps. They were fine.
I picked up the machine by the handle of the carry case and walked to the door. Mom followed me out and once again asked, “Are you sure you fastened that case tight?”
I got a little snippy, as 19-year-olds often do. “I think I know how to fasten a couple of clasps! It’s fine!”
I walked out the door—and the sewing machine fell out of the case, onto the concrete sidewalk. (You just knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
I felt so bad. I felt bad that I was going to miss homemaking night. I felt bad that I wouldn’t be able to make the t-shirt. I felt bad that I had dropped the sewing machine, that I may have broken it, and that I was going to have to come up with the money to repair or replace it.
But that was nothing—absolutely nothing!—compared to how bad I felt when I had to turn around and face my mother, who was standing in the doorway watching me, and admit that despite her repeated cautions and warnings and pleadings with me to do differently, I had ignored her advice. And the consequences were indeed as she had told me they would be.
I was mortified! Ashamed! Guilt-ridden! Embarrassed! Every awful and humiliating emotion you can think of filled me in an instant, as I looked upon my mother’s face.
Now, multiply that a billion times as you imagine standing before God, filled with the consequences of sin.
That, my friends, is hell.
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