Friday, February 7, 2014

Learning the Atonement--Come to the Master

As I mentioned in my last post, the Atonement is my favorite topic within the Gospel.  It is the idea that really saved my life spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.  It is the foundation upon which I have continued to build my testimony of the Gospel, and it is the means by which I have been able to continue to grow.  I am incredibly grateful for those things which my Savior has done for me to take away all of my pain, my friends, and my guilt.

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that Alma 36 is perhaps my favorite chapter within the Book of Mormon because it really is a pattern of my life and how I feel about the Savior.  Before I truly allowed Him into my life and let Him help me, I truly felt that I was much like Alma the Younger.  I was constantly racked by the memory and guilt of my sins. I always felt unworthy at church, and I felt unworthy to do many of the duties and responsibilities which were before me.  During my darkest time, I even felt unworthy to pray to the Lord, to unworthy for His love.  That night when I received such a powerful witness of my Savior's love for me.  The pain immediately began to subside, and I knew that His love could bring me through and bring me healing.  Since that night I have tried as best as I could to share the love of God with others.  I just wanted to be good all the time, and never turn back to my sins.  It's interesting that the entire Book of Mormon is basically a giant chiasmus, and Alma 36 is the center of this chiasmus.  Alma 36 itself is a chiasmus, the center of which is verses 17 and 18.  In these verses Alma recalls the memory of Jesus Christ and the power which He had to save us from our sins.  Christ and His Atonement are truly the center of this Gospel.

My favorite scripture of all time is Alma 7:12-13.  I love this scripture because it made the Atonement so personal to me.  I first found this scripture randomly one night while reading my scriptures.  In my infinite wisdom, I didn't write it down, but I remembered what it said.  I finally found it again many months later.  The thing that I love about this scripture is that it says that Christ would take in himself all our infirmities, which includes our pains, sorrows as well as sins, so that He would know what we feel.  Because He knows how we feel, He can heal us.  Through this scripture I came to know that He knew exactly how I felt, including those feelings of loneliness.  He knew my pain, and He wanted to help me get rid of that pain.

Because of life's situations, I moved back to Burley last August.  I came back to Logan to hear all of my choir friends sing at the Logan Tabernacle early in the semester.  They sang a song titled Behold the Wounds in Jesus' Hands.  I loved this song as soon as I heard it.  I was extremely pleased when I got to join Latter-Day Voices again to sing it with them.  As I began rehearsing the song, something caught my attention in the last verse.  Here are the words:

Behold His wounded hands and feet!
Come touch, and see, and feel
The wounds and marks that you may know
His love for you is real.
Then as you fall to worship Him
And wash His feet in tears,
Your Savior takes you in his arms
And quiets all your fears.
It's kind of hard to describe what I heard, but I will attempt to show you because I think it is really cool.  In the music the second through fourth lines are punctuated: Come touch and see and feel.  The wounds and marks that you may know His love for you is real.  However, Brother Salmond directs it differently.  I'm not sure this is done intentionally or not, but the way I heard the words was: Come touch and see and feel the wounds and marks that you may know.  His love for you is real!  I just love this way of looking at the words.  Those wounds and marks which Christ bears are the result of Him taking our pains and our sins.  Put another way, our pains caused the wounds of Christ, they are the same wounds which we create when we sin.  In this way we can look upon the Savior and recognize specific wounds which He bears in ourselves because they are the wounds we carry.

I just want to throw these two conference talks in here.  I don't really have too much to say about them because it is Elder Holland speaking.  The first one is one of my all-time favorite conference talks.  It describes many of these things which I have been writing about Christ feeling our pains, sorrows, and loneliness.

This one is a talk that my Bishop had me read as we continued to meet together.


O Divine Redeemer

Last year in Latter-Day Voices we spent much of the year singing about the Savior.  I loved pretty much every song we sang, but my favorite from the entire year was O Divine Redeemer.  This was my favorite because it was so personal to me.  It was pretty much my life summed up in a single song.  I remember those nights approaching Heavenly Father in prayer pleading for Him to receive me even though I was unworthy.  I remember those times when darkness gathered all around me, and I just felt lost and alone.  However, I also know the sweet joy that comes when the Savior took away my sins and pains.  I just love this song so much.

One of my absolute favorite places to go, especially when I was younger, was the visitor's center on Temple Square to visit the Christus.  I always loved going to see it and hear the words of Christ read.  I often begged to go to Temple Square just to see it.  I loved it so much that I always carried around a small picture of the Christus in my scriptures for years.  I now have a small Christus which I received for Christmas several years ago.  Every time I moved, I made sure that it was someplace where I could easily look to it as a constant reminder for me of the love of Christ.  I am eternally grateful for all that He did for me, and all that He will continue to do for me.  I am grateful that He was willing to suffer through the Atonement so I could find peace in my own life.  The power of the Atonement is real.  It is accessible to all.  Christ gave us all the opportunity to receive its blessings.  All we have to do is accept Him as our Lord and Savior, come unto Him, and strive to be like Him.

A couple years ago, I was in a Book of Mormon class at the Logan Institute.  In this class we were discussing Alma 37.  In verses 6-7, we read that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.  I soon found out that this had great meaning in my life.  After my witness that Jesus was my Savior and Redeemer, it was not anything big to help me overcome my addiction.  Rather, it was the continued small things which helped lead me in the path of discipleship.  Reading my scriptures daily, praying daily, attending church meetings, magnifying my calling, serving others, etc.  These things gave me the power, through the Atonement, to overcome my weaknesses in this issue.

I would plead with anybody who reads this who carries pains, sorrows, and burdens to come to Christ and allow Him to take your burdens from you.  He doesn't want you to carry them alone.  He wants to help you.  There is always hope.  I spent much of my life feeling beyond the reach of His arms of love, but I can testify that you are never too far beyond His reach.  He is always there to catch you when you fall.  He is the way to happiness.

*I just want to stick a quick note here.  I'm really sorry about any ramblings, poor organization, whatever in this post.  I have learned and continue to learn just how massive the Atonement is.  I probably have more I wanted to say, but I felt that I needed to get this posted as quickly as I could.  I will most likely come back and edit this post at some point.

I also want to again thank everyone for the love and support which you've shown me through this series of posts.  It was not an easy thing, but I think it was the right thing.  You've all shown me just how loved I truly am.  You are all amazing people, and I love learning from you.  I will probably be writing more posts on the Atonement later, but I think I'm ready to move on to something else for a little while.  These posts put a bit of a toll on me, so I think it's time to write about something else (unless I feel impressioned otherwise).

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