Three Sisters And The Resurrection
here once were three sweet and lovely sisters who knew each other in the Spirit World. They were excited to come to earth and to share the same family. They were born to honorable parents, who taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ. These sisters were schooled in a home where love was abundant, and obedience to the commandments was lived. There was a warm, peaceful, and safe feeling in this humble home.
The parents' only desire in mortal life was to please their Heavenly Father, so that one day they could all be sealed together as a family forever. The parents often prayed for their daughters' protection against the Adversary. They also prayed for the eternal welfare of their precious daughters. Much of their time was spent in the Holy Temple seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit as to how to raise and instruct them.
When the parents' time on earth had ended, they were found worthy to receive a celestial reward. They had been valiant in their efforts to love and live as their Savior and Redeemer did during His mortal ministry. They learned that trusting in God by diligently living their temple covenants would lead to an eternal crown. These parents had many challenges in their life, but they always held tight to "The Iron Rod" through life's "Mists of Darkness." They discovered that the rod always led to the light and the fountain of living water.
Now these daughters were very special to their parents. The parents knew that they were chosen to come forth in this the last dispensation of the fullness of times. The valiant nature, and elect status of the daughters in the pre-existence, allowed them to be blessed to receive the gospel of their Savior. Their courageous behaviors in the "War in Heaven" made them prime targets to be captured by the sons of perdition. These evil spirits who were cast out of God's presence, knew that these daughters of God, had the gifts and talents to undermine Satan and his purposes. Lucifer, that old devil, could not allow that!
The daughters names were Naomi, Heather, and Rachel. Heather was the middle sister and exceptionally beautiful. Her personality shined. She was a good person! She was always of the nature to seek out fun. She liked the excitement that danger and suspense offered. Risk-taking and living on the edge appealed to her. She liked to do what everyone else was doing in the world. Therefore she thought; "Because everyone else is doing it, it must be okay."
When faced with the gospel teachings, Heather would always question them; "Why is that so important? What if that is not true? I don't want to do that! It's too hard! Why can't it be easier? I just don't feel the way you do!" Nevertheless, when she prayed about things and practiced what was taught, she felt good inside.
When she was asked by her parents to do something, in her mind it was always a struggle. It felt to the parents as if, when they gave good counsel, Heather just did not want to be happy. "Why do I have to do that? If I want your advice, I'll ask for it! Stop telling me what to do!" I don't feel like it! Just leave me alone! I'm an adult! You don't understand how I feel! I'll do it when I want to do it! I know what is right, just let me decide!"
Did Heather not believe her parents were looking out for her welfare? Did she just have this rebellious streak in her? Or, did she just not like them being her parents? It turned out that whenever she followed their counsel, she always felt wonderful and things turned out for her benefit.
When her older sister Rachel in a loving way would say; "Heather, please follow the Savior and choose the right!" Heather would respond, "Stop judging me. I have my free agency! You can't take that away from me! Who are you to tell me how to live? I know what is right and what is wrong! And what is right for me, may not be right for you!"
Of course, Rachel felt bad. She loved her sister and did not know what to do to help her to see the truth. Often Heather would say; "Just love me for who I am. Just accept me no matter what I do!" Heather simply did not understand how much Rachel loved her. Rachel did accept and love her with all of her heart. Defensively, Heather would always turn Rachel's encouragement into something negative. Heather could not see that Rachel was not judging her, but rather judging the behavior, a behavior that was bringing her harm.
Rachel wanted her sister to be with her forever. She had those strong feelings since Heather was a baby. Rachel knew that Satan was slowly and subtly gaining power over Heather as her thoughts were turning away from living the gospel. Rachel knew that if Heather did not keep the commandments, they would not be sisters forever.
Heather did not really care because the world seemed more fun and accepting of her, when compared to those who lived the gospel. Heather would say; "I am not a lost soul! I love the Lord! I am more comfortable with people outside the Church. I'll take my chances!"
Heather worshipped her life style more than the gospel, and she had her own belief about things. As said before, Heather was a good person. She did not engage in any tremendously bad behaviors. After all, she was only living the way the world lives. For the more part she took care of herself and her needs, not bothering anyone else. "Why couldn't Rachel see that and just leave her alone?"
There were those special moments in her early home life, where she reached out to others while forgetting herself. She had spiritual experiences where she felt tenderness and closeness to God. Heather was often prompted to follow her parent's example. But, many times, she just felt like "a duck out of water" when it came to living the gospel.
As mentioned earlier, Satan wanted to capture Heather all of her life. She would be a prize victory! With her beauty and magnetic personality, she could be of great assistance to him. Satan could offer her the excitement, the recognition, the fun, the easy road that she wanted. There were many of Satan's legions who whispered and distracted Heather into believing things that were not true. Heather found what she thought was happiness, but this happiness was a smoke screen. It was artificial and never lasting. It did not feel warm, peaceful, or safe. None the less, she moved away from her home and her sisters, and found a different crowd. They influenced her to try new things, saying "it's okay. You are safe with us!" Her friends had no place for God in their lives, but as she said, "They were good people, better than many in the Church!" Eventually, she began to think and feel as they thought and felt. She became like them. She acquired their habits and lifestyle. She felt closer to them and distanced from her family.
There were moments when Heather remembered the safe warm feelings of home. She wished that she could have that again. When she thought of Rachel, she did not understand how her older sister always had a peaceful, secure, and calm disposition. Rachel always seemed happy.
Rachel loved her sister and tried to warn her once more of the dangers of life, yet Heather again refused to believe what she had told her was the truth. Because her new friends "seemed to be fine," Heather would not accept Rachel's concerns as true. After all, she had here own truth, and that truth did not include the Church or organized religion.
Naomi was the youngest and very impressionable. She, too, was a very good person. She loved her two older sisters knowing that she had a little bit of Rachel and a little bit of Heather in her. However, she always saw the both of them as unique and different. Naomi spent half of her time with Heather and half of her time with Rachel. To her, Heather was fun and exciting, and Rachel was motherly and a little boring.
Naomi would always do everything her parents asked. But, she would often follow after Heather too. Needless to say, there were times where baby sister got into trouble. She would repent and feel better for being back on track. Sometimes she felt torn between the lifestyle of Rachel and the lifestyle of Heather. Naomi even felt the huge stress that ambivalence causes. Choosing between the gospel and the world was never easy for her! If she chose the world, she would lose some gospel blessings. If she chose the gospel she would have to sacrifice some fun, recognition, risk taking adventures, and all those exciting things the gospel warns against. What would she do?
Ironically, she always felt the best when she was making someone else feel better. Naomi would even tell Heather how good it felt to live the gospel as her parents did. Heather would respond to Naomi; "God is okay with however you choose to live your life; he understands and will support you either way. It is your life and nobody else's. You get to choose! That is the beauty of Free Agency! Look at how happy I am!"
Rachel was the oldest. And yes, she liked to nurture her little sisters. She felt how wonderful it would be to be a mother forever. Those feelings were reconfirmed when she had her own babies. She loved each one of them as her parents loved her. She felt secluded from the world. Her values taught her that these feelings of love and eternity could never be replaced by the things of the world. To her, the eternal family was worth any cost. She could never jeopardize the holiness and sacredness of her family for the frills of the world. She would live as her parents did; keeping every covenant, putting God before man, time before money, service before pleasure. Rachel would do anything to return herself and family to God.
Heather and Naomi did not always understand Rachel. How could she always be so happy? Her life was one of great trials. She had lost a baby. She suffered with juvenile diabetes. Rachel spent all of her free time serving in the church. "Didn't she understand that she had five children to tend to of whom were all within a ten year age span? Why did she take them everywhere with her? Why didn't she demand a bigger house from her husband? Why was she always on a budget? Why did she not ever complain?" Had she heard of baby-sitters? Why didn't she do anything for herself?"
The sisters observed that Rachel did not go to clubs, movies, fun-filled vacations. She was always living quietly and conservatively. She preferred to make simple and healthy meals at home and did not eat out but for special occasions. Vacations were few and far in between. "Didn't Rachel know what she was missing out on?"
Heather and Naomi continued to be mystified as to why Rachel appeared so content with life. What were they lacking? Why couldn't they find complete contentment?
They saw that every Sunday Rachel and her family went to church. Every Monday night there could be no plans because that was Family Home Evening. Every morning at 6:00 a.m. the light was on in the living room. The children could be seen through the window in their pajamas with eyes half shut and messy hair. There they bowed their heads and with hands clasped while kneeling offered family prayer. This is how they started each day.
Every night at 7:00 p.m. like clockwork, through that same window one could glimpse children all freshly bathed, hair combed, in clean pajamas, reading the scriptures together. "Rachel's family was so committed!" To Heather and Naomi, it looked so difficult to do. Yet, the family always had smiles on their faces, and a special glow in their eyes. The best part was watching the nieces and nephews hug and kiss Rachel before they went to bed.
Naomi and Heather respected their big sister's life style and the choices Rachel had made. But, it seemed way too hard to make that kind of sacrifice to them. Surely there was an easier way to fine such true happiness.
All of the daughters lives evolved as each had planned. They made their choices believing that it worked out the way they wanted. They were all good people and knew God would judge them for the desires of their hearts.
Their lives on earth had ended, they sat together waiting in the Spirit World. Adored in white clothing, each was excited to know that the day of resurrection had arrived. The sisters still had the same feelings and attitudes that they possessed during their earthly probation. They still, were all good people. As they discussed their experience in the second estate, they all agreed that they just made different choices, and that is why their lives turned out so differently.
Each sister was instructed as to what would take place next. They were escorted to the room of transfiguration. In this room was a small circular stage. Heather was asked to step up onto a stage and stand directly in the middle. The perimeter had the appearance of glass but was transparent. It was as if Heather was standing in a clear yet invisible cylinder. Dressed in white, Heather was told to hold her arms out slightly from her sides, and to gently turn her palms upward; then to softly tilt her head as to peer upward into the sky.
A few gentlemen brought in a lamp and sat it onto the table next to the cylinder of light. There was an opening in the side of the cylinder into which the contents of the lamp could be poured.
Sitting to the side of the stage, Naomi asked. "What is in the lamp?"
"Consecrated oil," was the reply.
"What does it represent?" Naomi inquired.
"It represents the obedience to the commandments, and the good works that Heather did in her life," said the voice.
"Does it also represent the desires of her heart?" Naomi added.
"Oh, yes!" said the voice, "And all of the promises by covenant that she kept."
The lamp was lifted and the pure and sacred oil was quietly poured into the opening. Almost like a whisper, dews began to fall from the ceiling above, downward into the cylinder of light. It was so wonderful and beautiful! Tiny glimmering stars all around began to fall. Like glitter the drops fell upon Heather. She smiled and was so pleased. It felt special to have her body back and so perfect! Her light, which was that of the stars, was very satisfying. She knew that this was what she had chosen, and she was most comfortable with the final outcome.
Next, Naomi moved to the cylinder of light. On her table was placed a lamp, and a vessel. She assumed the same position while standing. The pure and sacred oil was carefully poured into the opening. A sound like a fresh Spring breeze could be heard passing by. From the ceiling moon beams descended and distilled upon her. Oh, it was amazing and marvelous! A quiet serenity and security encompassed Naomi. She smiled; she felt happy. Her body was perfect and the light that emanated from her was brighter than Heather's. It was like the full moon lighting the way at night.
The final sister to enter the cylinder of light, was Rachel. Her lamp and three vessels were delivered. She was surprised. The sacred and pure oil was reverently emptied into the opening. Assuming the same position as her sisters previously had, she closed her eyes. She could hear a sound like a fresh mountain stream. An angelic feeling came over her and then a vision opened up to her in her mind's eyes. There she saw her Savior, and standing next to him was her husband of many years, her precious lost child, her beloved parents, and her loving grandparents.
The light that shone down was heavenly and pure beyond description. It was brighter than the sun. It was breathtaking and glorious! The warmth and peace that she had felt so many times in the temple consumed her being once again. Her body had returned; it was perfect! She received confirmations of all the promises made by covenant in the temple. She smiled and tears of joy would not stop flowing down her cheeks. Was this is what it felt like to be purified and then sanctified? She was experiencing a fullness of joy.
As the sisters left together, Rachel made a promise that she would visit each of them often, and that she would always be there for them. Naomi made the same promise to Heather but could not do so for Rachel. Heather wanted to make the promise but was told that it would not be possible. She would have to wait for them to visit her.
Arm in arm, the sisters walked the heavenly path to Heather's new home. Rachel and Naomi cleaned the kitchen and bath, made the bed, and prepared a homecoming meal for Heather. They then embraced, kissed, and Rachel and Naomi left arm in arm.
Arriving at Naomi's new residence, Rachel cleaned the kitchen and bath, made the bed, and prepared her homecoming meal. Rachel gave her baby sister an embrace, a kiss, and a sweet good-bye. Looking back as she strolled the celestial trail, she blew her little sister a kiss, and gave her that same sweet forever smile that she always shared with her on earth.
The moral to this story is that:
Each child of God has their freedom to choose to fill their lamp and vessels with as much oil as they wish. How much time they spend filling their lamp is their choice. The good that each human soul does in life is their choice. They can choose to serve themselves, or they can choose to serve their God. This is the wonderful gift of "Free Agency" that we all have been blessed with. It was one of the rights we fought for in the War in Heaven.
It is clear by example, that the Savior of Mankind used his free agency to serve only his Father and His Father's children. He set the supreme example that we were to follow if perfection were to be chosen. The light and truth that we receive in the resurrection, will be a direct reflection of how we lived our lives; the unquestioned obedience we offered, the magnified service we freely gave, the purity of our heart, and the sincerity of our love, to our living God and His statues. May we treasure that agency and use it as God intended!
Perfection and exaltation, come from "choosing the right!"