On My Mind: Making the Atonement Tangible
I have been spending many, many hours preparing to speak at a Relief Society Retreat which is this Saturday in Heber, UT. The topic is not one that is foreign to me, rather it is a common topic, so you would think that it would take no time to prepare, right? WRONG! The past few weeks I have been immersed in the scriptures and Ensign magazines. The Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary have become great friends to me and there is a stack of nearly 20 Ensigns by my beside threatening to make me slip every time I get out of bed. I have maxed out a notebook taking notes and my brain is filled to capacity. I fear that if I read one more thing that I will burst, yet, I want to read more and learn more about the topic. I want to know every angle…to hear every last prophet’s perspective. The problem…my presentation is 30 minutes. There will not be enough time to spill everything that is in my brain in that time. I obviously have a problem. Perhaps I can share some of what I have “on my mind” with you…
The topic: The Atonement. A broad topic, indeed, but my remarks on Saturday will focus on how the Atonement is about profound healing…how Christ offers to make us whole in every way…even emotionally.
Satan is so good about convincing us that we are alone in our sorrows,
that we are weak and cannot endure that which we experience,
that peace is no where to be found,
that Heavenly Father is punishing us and has forgotten us.
Satan wants us to be miserable.
He is the author of all that is destructive.
How grateful I am that I know of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
He invites us to come to Him to be healed.
He will share our burden and make our burdens light until we have felt the feelings of complete healing.
He brings light to dark days.
He brings peace.
He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10).
Because of Him, our lives can be filled with meaning and joy, even when challenges are upon us.
It is because of the Atonement that Christ can comfort, hear, silence, calm, and bless us when our lives are troubled. In fact, one of the fruits of the Atonement is Christ’s ability to succor His people. Alma taught the people of Gideon (and us) the principle of succoring: “And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12). To succor means to run to the aid of, to assist in times of distress, to relieve.
In Nazareth, His childhood home, Christ spoke among people who knew Him as a carpenter’s son. He read a passage from the book of Isaiah which prophesied that the Son of God would come to “heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives. . . .to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). Of course when Christ told them that He was the Son of God and that He would fulfill the prophesy, accomplishing the very things of which Isaiah testified, the people doubted Him, were unbelieving, upset, and threw him out of the city. But, what a powerful message He proclaimed: that He would “heal the brokenhearted…set at liberty them that are bruised”.
I have felt bruised.
I have felt injured and yet there is no outward physical sign of the damage done.
To others, my body looks fine and would never be suspicious that inside, my soul is tender and aching.
The scriptures teach, however, that through Christ, peace is assured.
As I apply the Atonement in my life, through Christ, I am promised freedom from my sorrow and pain.
All my life, I have been taught “to apply the Atonement”, but I can’t remember anyone ever really teaching me what that meant. Yes, I knew that I could progress through the process of repentance and be forgiven for sins and shortcomings, but how could I “apply the Atonement” to ease my pains and sufferings? Was I not listening during a Sunday lesson, not understanding a Family Home Evening lesson, or was I never taught the specifics of how to apply the Atonement? Now as an adult woman, I am ashamed to admit it, but when the revelation came, I realized that I knew it all along. The process is so simple! As I read the Preach My Gospel manual published by the Church for missionary work, I learned that to apply the Atonement “we must show that we accept [Christ] and that we will follow His commandments.” In return, “He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (Preach My Gospel, 52).
It clicked. In order for me to receive the peace of Jesus Christ that I so desperately needed, and if I wanted Him to run to my aid, I needed to demonstrate in word, thought, and deed, that I would follow the commandments and accept Him. Accepting Him meant that I would need to follow in His ways, do all that He has asked, and become like Him. Now, with this tangible understanding, I could create a checklist of specific things I could do to approach the Savior. Instead of departing from Him or leaving Him because I was filled with sorrow and felt forgotten, I could consciously move toward Him.
My life has been richly blessed by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s explanation of how Christ can assist us when we are bruised, brokenhearted, and feel powerless:
“I speak to those who are facing personal trials and family struggles,
those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart,
those trying to hold back floodwaters of despair that sometimes wash over us like a tsunami of the soul.
I wish to speak particularly to you who feel your lives are broken, seemingly beyond repair.
To all such I offer the surest and sweetest remedy that I know.
It is found in the clarion call the Savior of the world Himself gave. . . .
‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. . . .
Ye shall find rest unto your souls’”
(“Broken Things to Mend,” Ensign, May 2006, 69).
Because of the Atonement, Christ knows the trouble of my heart. Because He felt my sorrows, He is the only one who knows how to adequately comfort me. I know that if I “come unto [Him],” He will understand and hear the complaints of my soul, wipe away my tears of disappointment, and silence my fears of the unknown. Our Savior knows your feelings, too. He wants to run to your aid and relieve your pain. He wants to strengthen you and to fix that which is broken in your lives.
The Atonement is an enabling power—it makes weak things strong and allows us to become whole. Through Jesus Christ, we can find the strength to move forward even when all seems hopeless. Because of Him we can be empowered to progress towards becoming what Heavenly Father sees we can be. Additionally, applying the atoning power in our lives will bring much needed healing and relief.
2 June 2010
Some of this “On My Mind” is excerpted from my book.