An individual accounting to the Lord after our mortal lives was depicted by Jesus in His parable of the talents. The landowner spoke with each servant individually and received a report of what each accomplished in his absence. The language in verses 20, 22, and 24 suggests that the landowner didn’t require each servant to report to him in front of the rest or any other type of larger audience.
In the Parable of the Silver Pitcher, we can see another individual trust, the response to that trust over time, and the final accounting. Sandra represents any one of us, and her mother represents the Lord. The pitcher itself could be any of a number of things that He has entrusted us with, such as our physical bodies, our spirits, the earth, each other.
The ancient king Benjamin taught his people: “And now, in the first place, [God] hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?” (Mosiah 2:23–24). He has provided everything we have, and such things that we can take with us, He would have us return in the best condition.
It’s a common scene in the United States for a teenager to ask to borrow the parents’ car for a night out. Ideally, the teenager brings the car back in the same condition as when it left the premises. Sometimes I feel as if that’s what Heavenly Father has done with me—given me the keys to a sports car when I’ve barely learned how to drive. I’ve found that parenthood easily fits in that category. I think it’s the nature of life that we won’t come away unscathed.
But we can come away restored.
Whereas the parable of the talents illustrates the importance of trying to improve on what we have, the parable of the silver pitcher focuses on the process we sometimes have to go through to restore what the Lord entrusted us with after we’ve let it fall out of good condition—essentially a process of repentance or of restoration. God wants us to, at some point in our lives, recognize that we’ll see Him again and have to see His face when we present ourselves in whatever condition we’re in, and take steps to improve the outlook if needed.
Thinking of Sandra’s restoration of the silver pitcher before returning it reminds me of a couple of ways the scriptures talk about our restoration.
First, this coming back into the Lord’s presence to give an accounting and receive judgment: “the resurrection of the dead bringeth back [all] into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice” (Alma 42:23). Jesus takes care of this part.
In the same conversation with one of his sons, the prophet Alma spoke of another sense of the concept of restoration—that of reaping what we have sown: “I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. … Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. … [I]s the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? … For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored” (Alma 41:2, 10, 12, 15). Good for good, and evil for evil, he added. This part is up to us.
Once again, however, a full restoration of that which the Father has entrusted us with isn’t possible without Christ. In the end, through His merciful power, Jesus can bring back those good things which we have lost during our mortal journeys if we have sought Him. I hope to hear these words directed at me at His judgment seat: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant … enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).
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