I never really mind making the drive to Idaho, even though it is over four hours. The scenery through Togwatee Pass, through the Tetons and over Teton pass is breathtaking. We even saw a black bear and her cub off the side of the road this time. By the time we’ve climbed up and down those glorious mountain passes, we are almost there.
This trip was planned, but at the last minute, we learned that we were invited for the actual temple sealing, not just the reception. So my seven-year-old and toddler and I hustled to get out the door after sending everyone to school–if we left by 8:15, we might make it by 12:30. We needed to be at the temple 30 minutes before the 1:00 sealing. It was going to be close. Adrenaline was pumping.
Well, we left at 8:30. I tried to make up for the time by going a little extra fast, but two potty breaks stole all my illegally-earned time. We rolled into Rexburg at 12:45. I was sweating, but thought–they might still let me in as long as I get there before 1:00. The temple was a beacon on the hill, I just aimed my car for it and chose a street. Right at the top, circling the temple were “Road Closed” signs and trucks hauling asphalt for resurfacing.
So we went down the way we came, crossed over a few blocks and headed back up the hill. Road Closed again.
Checking the map on my phone with frustrated, shaking hands, I saw that there was another road, on the other side of town that went up to the temple. It was my only hope. By now, 12:55, I was running out of options. Luckily, Rexburg is a small town.
That road was also closed.
The temple was ringed by a road that was being asphalted all the way around. I tried looking for a place on the street to park so we would just jet across the construction on foot, but in Rexburg, one does not park on the street without a city permit.
I had a distinct, depressing thought, “This must be what it feels like on Judgment Day. I have done everything I can–drove 5 hours from early in the morning just to get here–only to have the way into God’s house blocked. Sorry. You weren’t perfect. You can’t get in.” The thought was devastating. What if that was how it would be? I’ve put so much effort into this life–but it won’t be enough. I prayed for a miracle anyway.
In desperation, I called the temple and semi-shouted “How do I get to you?! I’m right by the temple but every way is closed. I’m going to be late for the sealing, it starts at 1:00.” She told me there was a little road, through the corn fields and you had to go pretty far out of town to get to it. There were a lot of “north” and “west” and Sixteen hundreds. . . I couldn’t follow, but I did manage to remember “Pole Line Road” and googled that. We finally found it and pulled into the temple parking lot. 1:10. We were sunk. All of that effort. All those hours of hustling. There was no way they would let me in 10 minutes into the sealing.
We ran in anyway, my toddler had predictably taken her jacket and shoes off and I didn’t want to wait for her, so she carried them in. “We are too late for the wedding, but can we sit in the waiting room and watch them come out? Is there a waiting room?” I asked, out of breath, and a little teary-eyed.
“You can go in. They haven’t started yet.” He replied, with a gentle smile.
“What? Really?” The prayer was answered! Mercy was beautiful. I dropped my kids off in the waiting room with friends and hustled up the stairs in those soft temple socks. When I found my friend, I gave her a hug that nearly took the breath out of her–my frustration and relief draining out of my muscles–and said, “I can’t believe they let me in! We were so late. It was so frustrating!” She said, “I know, it took us 45 minutes to get here, and we just barely arrived.
Then I had another insight into Judgement Day: The road was closed for everyone–even the mother of the groom. We have all fallen short of the Glory of God. Christ’s mercy will cover us–has to cover us–or else there would be no one in the room when the wedding begins. God’s mercy, Jesus Christ, is standing at the door, waiting to let us in. He knows its impossible, frustrating and futile. But keep trying! He will let you in.