I like this story about being worthy to enter the temple. It communicates lessons about integrity, and about the joy that comes from real spiritual growth.
One of the great blessings the gospel gives us is the lens through which we can see with proportion. Special perspective comes from the marvelous and overarching principles of the gospel.
For some reason, the last month or so, my mind has turned to a colleague of many years ago at the University of Utah. Dr. Reed Merrill was a distinguished educational psychologist. He had, for instance, done pioneering work in establishing the process of licensure associated with clinical psychology, as well as important work in educational psychology. However, he had been inactive in the Church and inattentive to spiritual things, though a good person. Then, in the early 1980s he was stirred spiritually by the Lord. I could see it when he came to visit me twice. He wrote two powerful letters regarding the comparative emptiness of his secular discipline with the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These observations meant a lot because they came from a man of unquestioned intellect and integrity. Other catalytic things were happening, unbeknownst to me, including his daughter’s service on a mission, to say nothing of a wonderful wife.
Reed called me sometime before his daughter’s sealing, asking if I would perform her sealing. I said, “I would be delighted.” I think I had an intervening trip overseas, but asked, “Reed, will you be there?”
With his typical integrity, he said, “Neal, you know me well enough to know I won’t be there unless I am fully worthy to be there.” When the morning came for the sealing in the Salt Lake Temple, I waited with particular anticipation. Then Reed came down the corridor of the temple. We embraced, and he said, “Neal, I made it!” He had come home! Subsequently, he taught in his high priests group and in various classes. It was a spiritual renaissance in his life, a marvelous thing to see. How wonderful it is when anybody comes home!
Yesterday, when I reviewed my handwritten notes used ten years ago at Reed’s funeral, they included words of gratitude for what I called, even back then, “the intersections of our lives”—Reed’s and mine. The most important thing to be said about Reed Merrill when he departed from this life was that he exited “in spiritual crescendo.” Such things bring joy!
Neal A. Maxwell, “Brim with Joy,” BYU Devotional, January 23, 1996