Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

Reflection

Alma 4:16-Alma 7:1

One morning in Korea, the Elder in our senior couple walked into the office and said he wanted to ask all of us in the room a question.  We gathered around the gentle sage and he said had one simple inquiry.

“Elders,” he started. “Do you want God to be fair with you on judgment day?”

He could tell we were taken off guard, so he simply restated.

“I am just curious…Do you want God to be fair with you on judgment day?”

With a quick nod, a whispered “think about it,” and a bit of Santa Claus-esque mystery he stood up and walked into his office without anything else to say.

Initially, I admit, I put up defenses.  I scanned my memory for anything I might have said to offend his wife.  Certainly he was scolding us for the way we treated her.  Or did he think we were slacking off, or not keeping the rules?  Why would he ask that?  Why didn’t he just give us  a lecture?  Why was he letting the question rot in our minds?  He was being unfair.

I don’t think I concentrated on anything else all day.  The question never left my mind.

Perhaps for the first time in my life I imagined myself standing before the Savior on the last day.  Did I really believe that day was a future reality?  Is it a fairy tale or will I actually stand face to face with my Redeemer and Judge?  How will it feel when I know His piercing eyes will see all of my thoughts, and deeds, and words.  He will see clearly who I really am.  Just me.  No friends.  No family.  An audience of one.  A personal interview.

That question, whatever its intention, triggered one of my most helpful and spiritually healthy days of my life.

I appreciate days and moments like that.  Times when the reality of the purpose of life and the reality of the future comes into a crystal clear focus.

I believe Alma 5 is a sermon with that intent.

Ask yourself the great prophet’s questions—

“My brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God?

Have ye received his image in your countenances?

Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

Can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?

How will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness?

Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble?

Are ye stripped of pride?

Is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother?

Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? ” (Alma 5:15-30)

I have a new friend who came home from a mission recently.  I have been living his mission vicariously with him through letters home.  I looked forward to each new experience and reminder of God’s grace and miraculous touch in a faraway land.

It helped me see Him here.

In his last letter before boarding his plane home the missionary summed up two years of lessons learned.  I could feel his passion, sense his desire to do good, and remember the lump in my own throat as I wrote my last letter home too.  Among many lessons from that letter that still echo in my mind is the line, “I have been changed.”  A humble confidence to stand in the presence of God.

When I read that letter it happened again.

I couldn’t get it out of my head.

A spark that ignited that fire of questions of the soul.

Have I been changed?

Do I feel the same passion for truth?

I felt that way years ago—can I say so now?

Am I ready to meet the Lord?

Do I want Him to be fair with me?

For the record, our good Elder really just wanted us to reflect on the question.  We had done nothing wrong.  He was wise and wanted us to become better--so he gave us something to ponder about.  Something to think deeply on throughout the day.  My conclusion?  I don’t want the Lord to be fair with me.  I am begging Him to be merciful.  But in the mean time, I welcome any experience, interview, question, memory, new friend or old friend that is going to help me remember why I am here, ponder where I stand in heaven’s eyes, and inspire me to prepare my heart more earnestly for a day I am most certain is coming.

I want to be ready.

Emily Freeman