The last two weeks have made me very grateful to know families are meant to be eternal. When I came back to Waco, my wife and kids stayed in Utah. We decided that, because I would participate in Baylor Law School's rigorous Practice Court program ("P.C.") this Fall, things would be easier if they extended their summer vacation by three weeks. Although P.C. has kept me busy, the absence of my family has given me cause to ponder about the eternal nature of families and heaven.
And I've realized heaven really wouldn't be heaven if my wife and children weren't with me there.
For two weeks, I've yearned to feel my wife's embrace, to see her smile, and to hear her voice free from telephone-line distortion. My arms have ached to hug my daughter. And I've longed to snuggle with my son while he sleeps in my arms. P.C. has been hard, but it doesn't compare to the anguish of loneliness and longing I have felt in my family's absence. I have counted down every moment that brings me closer to their return.
I'm sure in the future, circumstances, such as work, will separate me from them, and during each separation I will not be able to wait until we're reunited. But I'll always come home. And amidst hugs and kisses, we'll be together again.
Eventually, death will separate us. And if death were to work a permanent separation between me and them, I couldn't think of a more perfect definition of hell.
But God never intended death to destroy our families. The first marriage on the earth was eternal. (See Orson Pratt, "Celestial Marriage," Journal of Discourses, 1:58 (1852). God Himself united Adam and Eve while they lived in the Garden of Eden before they became subject to death. (See Genesis 2:21-24). Death could not separate them, nor could could it sever the bonds with which they were bound. (See Pratt, "Celestial Marriage"). Although they fell and all mankind became subject to death, Jesus Christ overcame the effects of the Fall and made it possible to be with our families forever. (Id.).
Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, God has restored the truth that a man, a woman, and their children can be united eternally. And in 1836, the Prophet Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and gave them the power to seal families together forever! (D&C 110:13-16).
My wife and I were married by this authority August 23, 2002. And the blessings of our marriage extend to our children. They are ours forever as long as my wife and I live worthily in this life. As more children are born to us, they will also be ours.
Aside from the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrifice, there is no doctrine which brings me greater joy.
My friends who read this, I want you to know families can be eternal through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know it. As I write these words, I feel the power of the bonds which bind me to my wife and children and those which bind me to my parents. It is a true power. And I want you to feel that same power binding you to your families.
Because, if we are honest with ourselves, it is impossible to imagine heaven without our families there.