I have often pondered the hopelessness of God’s children wandering in the dark and dreary world, not knowing who they are, where they came from, why they are here on earth, or where they are going after their mortal lives.
We need not wander. God has revealed eternal truths to answer these questions. They are found in His great plan for His children. In the scriptures this plan is known as the “plan of redemption,”1 the “plan of happiness,” and the “plan of salvation.
By understanding and obediently following God’s plan, we keep ourselves from wandering off the path that leads back to our Heavenly Father. Then, and only then, can we live the kind of life He leads, which is “eternal life, … the greatest of all the gifts of God."
The gift of eternal life is worth any effort to study, learn, and apply the plan of salvation. All humankind will be resurrected and receive the blessing of immortality. But to achieve eternal life—the life God leads—is worth living the plan of salvation with all our heart, mind, might, and strength...
In a premortal council, Heavenly Father explained to us His plan of redemption. The plan was based on doctrine, law, and principles that have always existed. We learned that if we accepted and followed the plan, we would be required to willingly leave our Father’s presence and be tested to show whether we would choose to live according to His laws and commandments. We rejoiced at this opportunity and gratefully sustained the plan because it offered us the way to become like our Heavenly Father and inherit eternal life.
But the plan was not without risk: if we chose in mortality not to live according to God’s eternal laws, we would receive something less than eternal life. Father knew we would stumble and sin as we learned by experience in mortality, so He provided a Savior to redeem from sin all who repent and to heal the spiritual and emotional wounds of those who obey.
Once we understand the grand panorama of the plan and see ourselves in it, we gain something invaluable, even essential: eternal perspective. Eternal perspective informs our daily decisions and actions. It steadies our minds and souls. When persuasive but eternally flawed opinions swirl about us, we are steadfast and immovable.
As Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Without an understanding of the plan of salvation, including our premortal existence and the judgment and the resurrection, trying to make sense of this life by itself would be like seeing only the second act of a three-act play.”
We must understand the first act (premortal life) in order to know how to make the best choices in the second act (mortal life), which will determine what happens to us in the third act (postmortal life).
Elder Hales is one of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon church, and somewho whose talks at General conference speak to me in a very direct and personal way. He seems to me a man of great intelligence and ability; and also (which is much rarer and more precious) of great sweetness and simplicity.