Your Heart’s Desire

Elder Theodore M. Burton spoke of a question that he was often asked by a cousin of his: “If you had your heart’s desire and could take it with you out of this world, what would you take?” For Elder Burton, the answer was obvious, “My family and loved ones!”

I agree with Elder Burton, there is nothing I want more than to be with my family, both earthly and heavenly, for all eternity. And I am therefore so grateful for the knowledge that the “possibility of an eternal family relationship is what is meant by exaltation and eternal life.” It is truly the greatest gift of God and what he desires for all of us to achieve.

Paradoxically, in order to gain exaltation and eternal happiness, we sometimes must lose the presence and comfort of our family in this life. Countless have experienced the tragedy that comes when required to choose between following the Lord and keeping the love and admiration of family members. As a convert to the Church, I experienced this as my family responded negatively to my decision to join the Church. And with my decision to serve a mission in particular, I faced rebuke and rejection.

Yet, as I made the choice to serve, I knew that ultimately what I was doing was exactly what I needed to do in order to secure eternal happiness for myself and my family. I knew that one day those that rejected me would thank me for my decision.

I have long been struck by the savior’s words to the Rich Young Man that are repeated with minor variations in all three of the synoptic gospels:

Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.…'” (Mark 10:29)

As I have reflected on this promise in recent weeks as a result of my father’s passing, I have been again comforted and reassured that it is indeed true. If we are “[w]illing to pay the full price of exaltation,” which price is following the savior and being willing to lose all for his sake, then we there is no blessing that will be denied us. “eternal preservation of my family relationship can be my inheritance in God’s kingdom if I will pay the price to achieve it.”

If we remain true and faithful in spite of opposition, then we shall one day be as Isaiah promised “repairer[s] of the breach” and “restorer[s] of paths to dwell in.” We shall be able to “raise up the foundations of many generations” and make possible the exaltation of those we love dear.

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