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I had a photograph that I kept as a missionary. It was of my older brother’s missionary homecoming. He was only seconds off the airplane from his mission to Brazil, in a tight embrace with Mom and Dad together. The excitement, joy, and love in their faces is a touching image. That picture meant a lot to me. It reminded me that I must serve my mission honorably, so that when I return, I will have such a moment.
It also reminded me of another homecoming that I would someday experience. The thought of leaving this life and rushing into the arms of my Heavenly Parents sometimes fills me with so much hope, and so much anticipation, that I had to remind myself that I still have much to do before I can qualify for such a reunion.
Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown that frightens us so much about death. We thrive so much on regularity and tradition that even a minor change from the ordinary can throw us completely off balance. Adventurous as we may occasionally feel, it seems that few of us feel ready to step beyond the comfort-zone of mortality into the surreal and unknown mystery we call death. Even the most courageous people can’t deny that there is a bit of apprehension that accompanies impending death. Perhaps to some, it is like lying down to sleep, knowing that whatever dream first enters their mind will be their new permanent reality.
But again, this is where faith plays such an essential role in our lives. Life as we know it has the greatest opportunity for growth, experience, and learning. It also allows us glimpses of the joy that will be available in the eternities. Such glimpses give us hope for the fullness of joy that will be awaiting the righteous in the life to come.
“Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us.”
Ezra Taft Benson, Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations, Ensign, December 1988