26 And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of redemption would have been frustrated, and the word of God would have been void, taking none effect.
Neal A. Maxwell shared his feelings when he returned home from World War II as a young man:
I had “promises to keep”–meaning going on a mission now. I grew tired of waiting for the bishop…. I went to the bishop’s home and said I had saved the money and wanted to go, so let’s “get this show on the road.” The good bishop hesitated, and then said he’d been meaning to ask me about going.
Years later, I would learn from that bishop’s devoted ward clerk that the bishop had felt I needed a little more time with my family after having been away so far and for a tenth of my life (“Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been,” General Conference, April 2004).
The Bible tells us that after Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, God prevented them from partaking also of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). In the passage above, Alma explains why. Adam and Eve were now in a position to act for themselves. They now knew good from evil and they were capable of choosing either one. The inevitable result of that freedom was that they would be judged and would have to face the consequences of their actions. They were simply not ready for that. They needed time to prepare and to prove themselves. As much as they might have yearned to bypass the pain and suffering of life and to avoid death entirely, they could not achieve eternal happiness without passing through the mortal experience.
Today, I will curb my impatience. Instead of rushing headlong toward the next big opportunity or challenge, I will prepare myself for the opportunities that will come when the time is right. I will accept the possibility that the next phase of my progression will not arrive until I am ready.