Kyla, my beautiful three-year-old niece, loves to learn and experience new things. Recently Kyla, with the help of her mother, experienced the joy of catching fireflies and watching them glow in her little insect container. After coming into the house and washing her hands, Kyla said she wanted to show her fireflies to “grandpa.”
My father passed to the other side of the veil several years before Kyla was born. My sister has tried to teach Kyla about her grandpa with photos and explain that grandpa has gone to live in heaven with Heavenly Father. My sister reminded Kyla that grandpa couldn’t see the fireflies because he was in heaven with Heavenly Father, but Kyla really wanted to show her fireflies to him. Suddenly, Kyla took her container, sat down on the floor with the container between her legs, and said, “Heavenly Father, please let grandpa see the fireflies, because I know he would love them. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”
“And a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). While Kyla was learning about fireflies from her mother, she was an example of simple faith and the reality of the eternal life and forever families.
It was said of the Prophet Joseph that “he seemed to be just as familiar with the spirit world, and as well acquainted with the other side, as he was with this world” (Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings, p. 645). The Prophet taught, concerning those loved ones who have passed on, “The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 326).
Understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ through the eyes of eternity is a great gift that has been given to us as members of the Church. We should find joy in knowing life continues after death, only in a different sphere, and that loved ones are there encouraging us, helping us, comforting us, and crying with us. “That same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:2).
President Joseph F. Smith shared, “Sometimes the Lord expands our vision from this point of view and this side of the veil, that we feel and seem to realize that we can look beyond the thin veil which separates us from that other sphere. If we can see by the enlightening influence of the Spirit of God and through the words that have been spoken by the holy prophets of God, beyond the veil that separates as from the spirit world, surely those who have passed beyond, can see more clearly through the veil back here to us than it is possible for us to see to them from our sphere of action. I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. We begin to realize more and more fully, as we become acquainted with the principles of the Gospel, as they have been revealed anew in this dispensation, that we are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors, to our friends and associates and co-laborers who have preceded us into the spirit world. We can not forget them; we do not cease to love them; we always hold them in our hearts, in memory, and thus we are associated and united to them by ties that we can not break. . . . They know us better than we know them. They have advanced; we are advancing; we are growing as they have grown; we are reaching the goal that they have attained unto; and therefore, I claim that we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; they can comprehend better than ever before, the weaknesses that are liable to mislead us into dark and forbidden paths. They see the temptations and the evils that beset us in life and the proneness of mortal beings to yield to temptation and to wrong doing; hence their solicitude for us and their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves” (The Prophets Have Spoken, Vol. 2, p. 373).
President Brigham Young taught, “If we are striving with all the powers and faculties God has given us to improve upon our talents, to prepare ourselves to dwell in eternal life, and the grave receives our bodies while we are thus engaged, with what disposition will our spirits enter their next state? They will be still striving to do the things of God, only in a much greater degree—learning, increasing, growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth” (The Prophets Have Spoken, Vol. 1, p. 359).
On one occasion the Prophet Joseph stated, “Those who have died in Jesus Christ may expect to enter into all that fruition of joy when they come forth, which they possessed or anticipated here” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 295). What great comfort this statement provides. Those of simple faith in Jesus Christ, will have, in the world to come, all the joy they anticipated. And the greatest joy is found in families and in relationships.
On another occasion, the Prophet Joseph said, “Their relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season: their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth . . . I have a father, brothers, children, and friends who have gone to a world of spirits. They are only absent for a moment. They are in the spirit, and we shall soon meet again. . . . When we depart, we shall hail our mothers, fathers, friends, and all whom we love, who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 353, 359-360).
Truly the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings generations of earth’s inhabitants together, “turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). For “they without us cannot be made perfect---neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:15). Life is one eternal round of charity, on both sides of the veil, the purpose of which is to help the Father in His work and glory to bring eternal life—as families—to His children.
Kyla knows, through the spirit, the thinness of the veil, the importance of families, and the strength of love throughout generations of time. May we exercise similar faith, “and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things” (Mosiah 3:19), that we may join in eternal relationships in the presence of our Father in Heaven.
By Barton Golding