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Life in Mortality

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Life is to be enjoyed. The work of Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39). There are many phases in our existence — Pre-Mortal Life, this mortal existence, a period of time in the Spirit World, and an eternity in heaven. This article will look at the phase of mortality and all of its trials and joys. Life can be difficult. Life is full of adversity. At the same time, life can and should be an enjoyable experience, even fun. To make life beautiful, enjoyable, and fulfilling, we need to remember to build a value system around the gospel of Jesus Christ. This life is the time to prepare to meet God (see Alma 34:32). As we keep the commandments, we will be righteous. In righteousness we find happiness as our reward for a good life. This is what we should seek in life.

The Scriptures Teach Us

· Moses 3:7—And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.

Heavenly Father is the Father of our spirits. In mortality we begin life as a living soul (with both spirit and body). We are an eternal being, a divine child of God, having an earthly experience we call mortality. The Lord lends us breath. Just as He gave Adam life, so does He give us the breath of life (see Mosiah 2:21).

· Doctrine and Covenants 84:44—For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

We live life according to the word of God. This is our compass for life (see Alma 37:37-47). Life can be wonderful as we hold to the iron rod and stay on the straight and narrow path to partake of the precious fruit. The love of God will bring us back to His presence as we partake of the Atonement of Christ.

· Matthew 16:25-26—For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Our lives are to be spent in the service of our God and our fellowmen in building up the Kingdom of God (see JST Matthew 6:38). Our souls are precious (see Doctrine and Covenants 18:10). We should not jeopardize our eternal life for things of the world or momentary pleasures. Life is too short. It is too precious. The price was infinite in the life our Savior’s Atonement for us. His death should not be in vain in regard to our personal lives. We should claim the blessing of life eternal through repentance. If we do not, we must suffer (see Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19).

· Romans 6:12—Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Temptation and opposition in all things are tests of life. Life is a test (see Abraham 3:25). We should not succumb to the flesh. Our spirit dictates to our body. The questions are: “Is our spirit strong?” “Do we yield our hearts to the enticings of the Holy Spirit?” (See Mosiah 3:19.) Do we love God totally and completely? If we don’t, we will become carnal, sensual, and devilish (see Moses 5:13).

· Alma 12:24—And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.

Life here on earth is a temporary proving ground for our eternal destiny. It is a trial period for us to prove our worthiness for coming back to the presence of God. We should not procrastinate the day of our repentance else we could lose the blessings of eternal life (see Alma 34:33-35).

· Helaman 12:1—And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.

The Lord teaches us a precious truth in this scripture. Our hearts are unsteady. He goes on to explain in verses 2-3 of Helaman chapter 12 that when we receive blessings and things are going well, we tend to forget our God due to the ease of the way. We are often ungrateful until we lose a gift or blessing in life. This is why the Lord has to continually remind us through chastening. Now that we realize this, wouldn’t it be easier on our lives if we would learn wisdom in our youth (see Alma37:35), take counsel from our God (see Jacob 4:10), and listen to the words of our prophets (see 3 Nephi 12:1-2)?

Modern Prophets Speak

Life has a fourfold purpose — First of all, we come to this mortal life to receive a physical, mortal body. Without a physical body man is limited in his progression and only with a spirit and a body united together permanently can man receive a fulness of joy; so we are living today part of eternity. We accepted that plan in the pre-mortal world before we came here, and we rejoiced at the opportunity of coming here. Second, we came here to gain experience-experience with a physical, mortal world. The third purpose of life is to give us an opportunity to prove ourselves (Abraham 3:25). To prove that even in the presence of evil and sin we can live a good life. To prove that in spite of temptation that we have the strength and the character to adhere to the principles of the gospel. And fourth, this life is intended to provide an opportunity to help our Father in Heaven with His great plan, and we do that through honorable parenthood. We cooperate with our Heavenly Father in helping to prepare tabernacles to house spirits of His other children.

(Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 27.)

In whatever circumstance we may find ourselves, whether in the midst of tragedy, the pain of misconduct, or merely the daily struggle to live the life of a faithful [child of God], we must remember “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

(Marvin J. Ashton, Be of Good Cheer [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 21.)

Life is a mission, not just the sputtering of a candle between a chance lighting and a gust of wind that blows it out forever. . . . While here, we have learning to gain, work to do, service to give. We are here with a marvelous inheritance, a divine endowment. How different this world would be if every person realized that all of his actions have eternal consequences. How much more satisfying our years may be if in our accumulation of knowledge, in our relationships with others, in our business affairs, in our courtship and marriage, and in our family rearing, we recognize that we form each day the stuff of which eternity is made. . . . Life is forever. Live each day as if you were going to live eternally, for you surely shall. (“Pillars of Truth,” Ensign, January 1994, pp. 2, 4.)

(Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 174.)

We are the sons and daughters of Almighty God. We have a destiny to fulfill, a life to live, a contribution to make, a goal to achieve. The future of our country in these rapidly changing times awaits our mark of influence. The growth of the kingdom of God upon the earth will, in part, be aided by our devotion.

(Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 119.)

Determining whether we will live myopically and selfishly or live now for eternity is a fundamental decision that colors every day of daily life. To live a life of “thanksgiving daily” (Alma 34:38) while in the midst of adversity and its tutorials is impossible without a degree of meekness.

(Neal A. Maxwell, Meek and Lowly [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 4.)

Ideas for Daily Living

Here are four strategies to consider in getting the most out of life:

1. Life is what you choose to make it.

· Choose wisely—Remember that you have the power to choose your responses to life and all your governing attitudes. Have an attitude of hope—sooner or later things can and will be better (see 2 Nephi 2:27).

· Be positive—A negative outlook sometimes becomes self-fulfilling.

· Uphold your standards—Live up to your values and principles. If you don’t, you’ll suffer from guilt and your credibility in the eyes of your children and your friends could be lost.

· Think long-term—Cultivate a vision for life. Set some goals and make some plans. Seek lasting joy rather than short-term pleasures. Short-term pleasures cannot satisfy the yearnings for long-term happiness and joy. Short-term pleasures, when they become an end in themselves, can fill life with emptiness and an insatiable hunger for something higher.


2. Life is this very moment.

· Don’t wait to enjoy life—Enjoy the journey today.

· Life is now—Life is not “out there.” It is “in here”—how you respond to the moment-by-moment feelings, happenings, and opportunities that are “your world.” You can think of each moment as a special act of living, or as a burden. It’s all in how you respond.

· Life is a miracle—Life is vitality, a feeling of “aliveness” that has its own miraculous, self-sustaining energy of well-being. Even at times of illness and malaise, the life-adoring individual holds on each moment of living as one more opportunity to enjoy the sunrise, watch the sunset, marvel at nature’s handiwork, hold the hand of a loved one, and kindle a soul-deep hope for better times to come.

· Keep it simple—Don’t over-program or over-commit yourself. Too many “things” make life hectic and sometimes unbearable. Keep each moment pure and simple.

· Stay healthy—Take care of yourself: you deserve space and time. You must eat well, get adequate rest, and exercise regularly. Again, it’s your choice.

3. Life is enriched through service to others.

· Life is togetherness—Everyone can have togetherness, even the person whom circumstances have deprived of immediate family and relatives. How so? Because that person can still help and serve others out of a deep commitment to humanity, out of a deep sense of obligation to make this a better world.

· Look beyond yourself—Always take time to look outside yourself. Your worst days will be when you are overly concerned with your own well-being. Selfishness destroys the beauties in life.

· Seek to build up the Kingdom of God—Our joy and glory flow from being an instrument in the hand of the Lord to help people come unto Christ (JST Matthew 6:38; Alma 29:9-10).

· Seek to serve others—The joy is exquisite (see Alma 36:24).

4. Life is an exhilarating climb upward, one step at a time.

· Rise to your potential—Life is an affirmation of one’s highest prospects and possibilities. Life is nothing if not an opportunity to rise on the wings of self-transcendence and self-mastery to the highest level of which one is capable. Seen in this context, life is always a blessing and a positive challenge.

· Prepare well—Organize yourself for life’s journey. Part of the joy in life is getting ready to climb higher (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:119).

· Communicate with care—Unrealized expectations usually bring a negative response. Be true to your promises. You will feel better when you avoid hurting others by breaking promises.

· Do it now—Procrastination ends up causing you to waste more energy being frustrated than you would spend just getting the job done in the first place. It also makes you feel discouraged.

· Savor the good consequences—Reward yourself for goals achieved and things well done.

· Make life a spiritual experience—Life on earth is a training ground for a better life to come in the hereafter. Nothing acts with more persuasion to quell the narrow appetites of a mortal nature than the desire, the hope, and the faith to qualify for an eternal life in which the cares of this world are replaced with the glories of eternal lives in the Celestial Kingdom (see 2 Nephi 9:39).

Illustrations for our Time

“I Learned To Love Life”

Dear Abby:

Not long ago I was shy, ugly, poorly groomed, unhappy, and without a boyfriend. I never smiled. I wrote to you, and you gave me the best advice I’ve ever received. Here it is:

“The key to being popular with both sexes is to be kind. Be honest. Be tactful. If you can’t be beautiful (or handsome), be well-groomed, tastefully attired, trim of figure, and keep a smile on your face!

“Be clean in body and mind. If you’re not a ‘brain,’ try harder. If you’re not a great athlete, you can be a good sport. Try to be a standout in something. If you can’t dance or sing, learn to play an instrument.

“Think for yourself, but respect the rules. Be generous with kind words and affectionate gestures, but save heavy artillery for later. You’ll be glad you did. If you need help, ask God. If you don’t need anything, thank God.”

I have followed your advice step by step, and kept it handy when I felt down. I am now president of the sophomore class, and I play the guitar.

Smiling comes naturally to me, and I love life. I have a boyfriend who plays football, and he is kind and respectful. My grades are better, and I have more friends than I ever dreamed I’d have.

Abby, you’re not the only one who helped me. God helped me. He answered my prayers.

—Happy in St. Louis

(—Dear Abbey, Especially for Mormons Vol. 5, Compiled by Stan & Sharon Miller and Sherm & Peg Fugal [ Provo, Utah: Kellirae Arts year], 168-9.)

More Thoughts on Life

· “Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.” —William James

· “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much.” —Bessie Anderson

· “Live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece.” —Dail C. West

· “No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, and disciplined.” —Harry Emerson Fosdick

· “We are born for a higher destiny than earth.” —William Henry Bulwer

Summary

Life is a gift from God. Our lives should be our gift to God. You choose—you choose to make life beautiful. You are in charge. You can choose to be “. . . even as He is.”(see 3 Nephi 27:27). Be understanding and kind. Treat people with consideration. You can help every person you meet have a better day. You can make a difference in their lives as well as yours. You can pass good deeds along—and it will always come back to you eventually. You will feel fulfilled. Life will be sweet. Make a commitment to live life to the fullest and enjoy your time on earth.

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