I’ve been reflecting a lot on the concept of eternity.
Sometimes we need the concept of eternity to motivate us to act and to change. We can become complacent and act as if this life is all that matters. Fear for our eternal soul can be “more express” than anything else in pushing us to repetence. Like Alma the Younger, we must at times be “harrowed up” by the idea of standing before God for eternal judgment. The idea of eternity can remind us that what we do here really does have consequences.
But all too often, especially for active faithful members of the Church, The notion of eternity can be one that weighs us down with unnecessary anxiety and a lack of confidence.
This manifests itself in a few different ways. First, we see ourselves repeat the same mistakes over and over again. And we worry that will be what eternity is like. We imagine living forever not so much in our sins, but with all of our imperfections laid bare for all to see for forever.
The idea of eternity can also sometimes lead us to be more annoyed at the quirks and eccentricities of those we love. We struggle to imagine putting up forever with the same things that annoy us now. Totally ignorable molehills become mountains when projected on the eternal timeline.
The concept of eternity can also leave us frustrated with God as we imagine that we will forever be required to bear all of the crosses we are asked to bear in this life. We conclude that we would rather ” be banished and become extinct both soul and body” rather than continue onward. We can come to see God’s plan as a burden rather than an opportunity.
And the truth is that eternity without change and progress is a terrifying concept. Eternal stagnation would truly be damnation and tormnet.
God knows that. For that reason, he placed angels and a flaming sword to block Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the tree of life. Living forever in our sins would be horrific torment for all of us.
Fortunately, God sent us a savior to redeem us from that eternal fate. Christ died for us. He freed us from the bondage of eternal stagnation. Because of him, we are free to grow and change and improve ourselves forever.
With Christ, there is the possibility for eternal progress and growth rather than stagnation. As Lehi explained, because of Jesus Christ we can choose “liberty and eternal life” rather than “captivity and death.” That choice is available to us only because of Christ and only through his atonement.
Because of Christ eternity is a joyful concept that should fill us all with great joy and peace. We have a hope for a brighter tomorrow. With eternity we will eventually overcome all of our weaknesses and flaws. We will be able to spend forever improving our relationships with others. We will be able to become our best selves. All that is possible because of Christ and because of the plan of salvation. Every tear will be wiped away. Every sorrow turned to joy. That is the beauty of God’s plan for us.