I had a dream recently in which I was bearing witness against another person at the Judgment Bar of God. I felt the severity of the situation and the magnitude of each word that I said. I wasn’t there to tell part of the truth and be done – I had to testify of everything, I was compelled to do so.
The person I was testifying against was a politician, and I bore witness of what I saw and experienced during his administration. As I did so, he turned his face away from me, towards a darkness. At that point, I thought of the scripture about how the wicked will desire for mountains to fall upon them, so that they would not have to face such judgment. I note that my testimony was solicited purely for injuries suffered by the nation because of his misrule – his personal matters were not for my testimony, as I had only second-hand knowledge of such. I also knew that he was not alone as a ruler – all who have held power are held to account for it. Those who want to repent and to be made whole face that pain of truth and bear the burden of their mistakes. Those who are yet proud and unrepentant turn towards the darkness and wish to be as far as possible from God so that the pain of memory and truth does not trouble them.
As I bore witness, I also felt my own soul, troubled by what I knew would face me: the testimony of those who I had wronged and harmed in my life. But I resolved not to turn to the darkness. I wanted to face the pain and pass through it. I knew that I would be resurrected and that I would have a chance to choose better, without the clouding effects of misleading men to steer me wrong. I would have cleaner choices, and I could train myself with a millennium of doing better so that I would be made whole, perfect and complete in my repentance.
Resurrection is not an end of itself, or a gateway to an end-state. It is every bit the ushering in of a new phase of existence, as momentous as birth or death. We are taught that we are not all resurrected at the same time – in my dream I felt my place in that line. I knew that, because of my sins, I was not to be the first to be resurrected. But I also knew that, because of the good I had done and to the extent I had accepted Christ as my Savior, I would also not be the last. There would be people who I had clashed with in life that accepted the Gospel in death that would be resurrected before me. There would be people who I had looked up to and admired for their righteousness in life that had deeper demons than I could see that would be resurrected after me. Part of repentance was in forgiving others that I might be ready to live among them in righteousness and in not being judgmental, that I might welcome in others when they were ready to join with me in righteousness.
We were all in line, we would all have a turn. The most righteous would be the first to be raised, that they might prepare a place for those yet to come, each in turn preparing to welcome in more and more to do the work needed to welcome in more. We would do this with love, and I felt that compassion. I feel it again as I recall it.
But I also recall the pain of my soul as I remembered those who I harmed with my decisions. My repentance here is to prepare me to face the pain of judgment. I do not believe that I will face a wink and a nod and a free pass to heaven just because I made a few good choices here and there. Judgment is a full accounting of my life. I am allowed to feel joy for the good I have done, but I am also responsible for feeling the pain of my evils, if I am to cleanse those evils from myself and become perfected in Christ, able only then to return to Heavenly Father.
I want to be good, and part of that want means that I must face judgment and not turn away from truth. If I truly want to be one with my Heavenly Father, I need to be able to see the totality of my life and know where the atonement will make me whole because of the pain I feel for those sins now. The more I can repent of and make restitution for here and now, the less pain I endure in my judgment – and the more work I will be able to do to show love for my fellow humans, my brothers and sisters.
But I also know that there are sins in me that I am not yet aware of, that I have not yet repented of, that I have not yet made restitution for. The mortal oubliette in my person is opened up and brought into light in that judgment. The dream I had made me search inside my memory for when I had done wrong, and I found those episodes, and it pained me deeply. That is the first step to restoration, and I am glad for it, but I have more to do. I am not anxious about not being first in line to be resurrected – I am thankful that I am in line and that I know that I emerge into new life when I am ready for it. I hope to be there as quickly as I can be there, and that that all hinges on my willingness to repent today.