Toward the beginning of every year, high schools and colleges across the country have a major competition. Some say these contests are bigger than any sporting event or any final exam. Many students spend months, if not years, preparing for them. What are they? Annual bridge-building contests, of course. Yes, students from all over the country compete to see if they can build a small bridge that will withstand the heaviest weight.
One particular year a student put all of his efforts into his bridge. He studied, planned, glued, and pasted until he had completed his project. The day of the competition came, and he took his bridge to be tested. One hundred pounds, then two hundred pounds, then three hundred pounds were placed on his bridge. The weight kept going up and up. Everyone was excited but not as excited as the bridge builder. Finally, at around a thousand pounds, his bridge broke.
The competition lasted the rest of the day, with other students bringing their bridges to be tested. At the end of the day, during an assembly, the winning bridge builder was announced. To his surprise the student who had studied and worked so hard heard his name called.
I looked at him and could tell he couldn't believe it! He could hardly get out of his seat when he was called to the front of the auditorium. Finally, he made his way to the stage and was awarded his trophy in front of the entire school. He was cheered by his peers and congratulated by his friends as he returned to his seat. It was a day of triumph. He had worked so hard to become the master bridge builder.
This is obviously an example of how good it can feel to succeed when you've worked hard at something. Striving every day to be good is like building a bridge. It takes time, patience, and energy. You have to know the plan--the plan of salvation--and how it works. You have to apply the glue of obedience and prayer. Then, when the test comes, you'll be able to withstand the pressure of temptation. What happens if you're doing your best when Christ comes? What's your reward? Rest assured that it will be much greater than any earthly trophy.
Just before Christ burns the earth with his glory and destroys the wicked by fire, he will save the righteous. "And the saints (meaning the righteous) that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him" (D&C 88:96).
In other words, if we're righteous we'll be called to the front of the auditorium to receive our reward, and our reward will be to enjoy the presence of the Savior. What a great thing to think about! I don't know exactly how we'll "be caught up to meet him," but it's exciting to imagine being part of a group of righteous people rising heavenward and approaching the Savior. Something will happen to us during that journey. A change will take place in us so we can enjoy Christ's presence and not be consumed.
Then, after the earth is burned, we'll return. Remember, by then the earth will be one land mass and will have become like the Garden of Eden. We will return to enjoy the reward of our righteous living. We will have children, enjoy our families, listen to the Savior and his prophets, and go on with our lives--all in the absence of wickedness and temptation. Sounds great, doesn't it! Then, after we reach the age of one hundred years, we will die (Isaiah 65:20). But even death will be different. We will not be buried when we die because we'll be changed in the twinkling of an eye. (Hey, that rhymed). We'll be twinkled! (D&C 63:51).
Remember the promises mentioned in chapter two? Life on the paradisiacal earth will be when all of those promises are fulfilled for the righteous. Elder Boyd K. Packer made a great statement about being good. He said: A
I will not consent to any influence from the adversary. I have come to know what power he has. I know all about that. But I also have come to know the power of truth and of righteousness and of good, and I want to be good. I'm not ashamed to say that--I want to be good. And I've found in my life that it has been critically important that this was established between me and the Lord so that I knew that he knew which way I committed my agency. I went before him and said, "I'm not neutral, and you can do with me what you want. If you need my vote, it's there. I don't care what you do with me, and you don't have to take anything from me because I give it to you--everything, all I own, all I am--," and that makes the difference. ("To Those Who Teach in Troubled Times," 76)As you go about building the righteous bridges of your life, remember the great day to come. You will be called up to meet the Savior, and you will be filled with joy as you realize that your efforts to read the scriptures, pray, keep the commandments, magnify your Church callings, love your family and your neighbor, and serve the Lord will be rewarded. He will come and bring with him all the peace that has been prepared for those who love him.
He has said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; and ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours" (D&C 78:17- 18).
Keep your eternal focus, endure to the end, and you will experience great things to come.