I love the doctrine that we can be baptized for deceased ancestors. This assures that God’s laws are just and merciful. He is aware of each individual and wants all to be saved.
But, I was a bit taken aback by all the talk of records and recording things on earth and in heaven in D&C 128. I didn’t like the idea that heaven was dependent on a faultless record-keeping system. If the Lord knows all, why does it matter if it’s recorded? If the Lord knows our hearts, why does He need a record to tell us if we’re worthy of His kingdom?
As I thought about this, I remembered Ezekiel in the Old Testament. Ezekiel is shown a city with a temple in extraordinary detail. The measurements are mapped out with exact descriptions, the land division was discussed, and the sacrifices explained in every particular. Yet, our temples today are of varying sizes and measurements, and our ordinances are quite different. Why was this detail required if it is not necessary for future generations?
A couple of chapters after this description, Ezekiel is shown a river that flows out from the temple. In the beginning, the river goes only to his ankles. Further down, it is to his knees. Further still, it reaches his loins, and then eventually it is so deep and wide he cannot cross on foot.
It occurred to me that this was an apt description of my time in the temple. The first time, it was nice but I didn’t understand it. Then I started to have some spiritual impressions there and it meant more to me. Now, I crave it and I love to go because I know I will be immersed in the Spirit.
I think, sometimes the Lord gives us specific instructions as a way of saying, Pay attention. This is important. You won’t get it the first time, but keep working, keep trying. The further you go, the more you’ll understand.
The Lord doesn’t require our records. We do. We need to pay attention, stay awake, and be vigilant. The doctrine of baptism and baptism for the dead is so much more than it appears to be on the surface. As with many of the commandments, it is a gift to us so that we may learn and grow.
The early saints were excited about this new practice of baptism for their dead. They were eager and fast to perform these ordinances. I, however, am a little more complacent about it. I am slow to find names of those that need the ordinance and I drag my feet in taking those names to the temple. I know the Lord doesn’t really need the records, He needs me to know that it’s important. He needs me to keep crossing the river and getting in deeper and deeper so that I may learn the truth.
We are all connected as God’s children. All of us here on earth need to care for one another. This love doesn’t end when we die either. We continue to care for those that have gone before and they continue to care for us. The connections grow and spread until we are all together again as God’s full family.