My friend Kevin Randall told me this story about his 18 month old son. I now think of it as “the parable of the water park.” His son loves to play in the water (much as my own son does). Kevin was planning on taking him as well as his other kids to a water park near their house one Saturday. He told his son that they were going swimming, and the son thought that meant in the bathtub. In no time, he had taken his diaper off and was sitting anxiously in the tub, waiting for Kevin to turn on the water. No, no, Kevin tried to explain to his toddler, we are going swimming somewhere else, somewhere else, somewhere much better than a bathtub!
But as anyone with experience with toddlers olds knows, Kevin got nowhere with this line of explanation. Even if he had been able to understand the language, how do you explain what a water park is to someone who has never been to one, never seen one, never done anything more than splash around in five square feet of water ten inches deep? So, his son clung onto the side of the bathtub, cried and railed as Kevin had to drag him out of the bathtub, put his clothes back on, and take him to the water park. But then, the wonder and amazement in his eyes as they walked down the hall, and he saw the extravagant wonders of the water park… the lazy river, the sprays, the water slides, the fountains, the brightly colored objects to climb on, under, and through. Then his tears and histrionics turned to joy!
Could it be like that with us, with our challenges? Are we clinging desperately to something that is familiar, because that is what we’re sure that we desperately need, while all the while, our Heavenly Father is gently trying to pry us loose from our faithless attachment to the familiar, to allow us to experience joys that we cannot comprehend, and certainly cannot experience as long as we are desperately clinging to the familiar. We think that prying loose is because He is wanting to deprive us of what we most want. When in fact, I am certain (at least in my faithful moments) He is trying to lead us to something where our enjoyments and pleasures will be even more enjoyably glorious:
And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy. D&C 130:2
But I love even more what Paul says, when he states that we cannot yet comprehend the vastness of His love, and that the Lord knows how to bless us more abundantly than we even know how to ask for:
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:17-21)