Saturday, September 9, 2017

Peace and Healing and the Marvelous Atonement of Christ

Everyone has trials and opposition in life.  
Sometimes these come through health problems or the actions of others.  
Sometimes they come through natural causes, like natural disasters.  
Sometimes they come through the actions of ourselves.  

We all have problems in our lives that are too big for us to handle by ourselves.  
That's kind of the point of the trial, right?
  We came to earth to learn and grow and be tested.  
Our tests are to teach US.  
We came here excited to get bodies, to learn and to grow and to experience things that we couldn't do without our bodies and without a separation from our Heavenly Parents. 

Sometimes we get complacent here and without a big trial here and there, we may not get around to pursuing further light and knowledge.  

Mosiah 3:19 "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a childsubmissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

As we are tested, we have a choice
 The great gift of agency means that we always have a choice.  
We can choose HAPPINESS, LOVE and JOY.  (Man is that he might have joy!) 
Or we can choose SADNESS, ANGER or FEAR.  
We can choose to walk in faith, our path illuminated only a few steps at a time, 
or we can choose to be frozen in fear, waiting to move until we KNOW, 
or we can choose to walk away from Christ.

I believe that our trials come to us by way of invitation. 
 We are invited to come unto Christ, to cast our burdens on HIM, to learn about the amazing healing power of His atoning sacrifice and the cleansing, comforting power of our Savior's love. 
This is our test and opportunity and our gift, if we choose to act upon it.
I also believe that we don't have to grow only through trials.  We can choose to grow through Joyful Experiences too.  It's a choice.

I have learned some things about the Atonement of Jesus Christ that I want to share with you.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shares a story in his talk, "Your Potential, Your Privileges" about a man who dreams of going on a cruise.  He is so excited to go on this cruise so he saves up his money for a long time, until he finally has enough.  He books his cruise, using all the money he has.  He brings along canned food and water because he doesn't have any extra money left after paying for his cruise.  He goes on the cruise but doesn't partake of any of the beautiful meals provided, or any of the shows or entertainment.  He feels badly about this.  He enjoys the cruise but spends much of the time in his cabin. On the last night of the cruise he learns from a crew member that all of the beautiful meals and shows were INCLUDED in the price of the cruise.  They were already paid for.  He missed out on so many wonderful parts of his cruise.  Pres. Uchtdorf says many of us  are like this man.  We are living far below our privileges.  

Heavenly Father desires to bless us with all manner of blessings but we need to ASK for them.  Ask and Ye Shall Receive.  Seek and Ye Shall Find.  He desires to relieve us of our heavy burdens but we need to ASK for this relief.  Our burdens, like this man's cruise, have already been paid for.  We don't need to spend this life sitting in our cabins, eating canned food. 
So, how do we go about asking for this relief?  How do we use the healing power of our Savior?  I've been seeking this for a while now.  Here are a few things I've learned.  

In the Book of Mormon, Enos reveals some great keys to actually USING the Atoning Power of Jesus Christ.  The Atonement stands as a marvelous mystery that no one will fully understand in this life, but the power of Christ's Atonement is real and we should use it.
Start with verses 2-8.  (Study the rest of the book later. It's a tiny little gem.)

Enos 1:And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
We see here that Enos is pondering on the gospel, the good news of Christ.
And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
Here we learn that he had a powerful desire, a HUNGER to know, and he was willing to put in time and effort in MIGHTY prayer.  How powerful.  I love Enos.  
And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
Here we learn about Enos's trust and faith in the words of his father (who taught him the gospel) and his faith and trust in God.  
And I said: Lord, how is it done?
And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
Faith in Christ.  His Faith in Christ made him whole.  Isn't that beautiful?  
Also in the Book of Mormon Alma the Younger teaches powerfully about HOW to find peace and healing through the marvelous atonement of Christ.  He shares his conversion with his son Helaman in Chapter 36.  
17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
In Dale E. Miller's "Bringing Peace and Healing to Your Soul", we read that "Alma found his soul healed through the knowledge that Jesus would come and take away all his sins. As his soul became healed, he found peace within himself. Alma was so captured by the effects of this conversion experience that he repeated the sensations to Helaman: “Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (Alma 36:21; emphasis added). He was teaching a pattern to his son of lasting peace and joy, just as Enos’s father had done. There is a pattern here of fathers teaching children about the Atonement and eternal life. It is a pattern for all fathers in our day.
Several instructive points come to mind about Alma’s conversion:
  1. Like Enos, he had a vivid awareness and remorse for past sins that had offended God.
  2. Like Enos, he remembered his father’s teachings—the promise of atonement for sin, through Jesus Christ.
  3. Like Enos, he personally pleaded in supplication for his soul.
  4. Like Enos, he experienced the miracle of the Atonement to the degree that he could neither remember the pains from his sins nor feel guilt. The healing of his soul was complete. It was a cleansing experience both to the mind and the heart. Joy replaced bitterness. He became a new man, born again of the Spirit. And like Enos, he immediately turned his attention to serving the Lord and his fellow beings.
Will the Lord do for us what He did for Enos and Alma?"
 Absolutely!  God is no respecter of persons!  If HE extends His arm of mercy to one of his children, He will extend it to all.  And here we have TWO accounts of God extending his arm of mercy, of offering peace and healing through the marvelous Atonement of Christ.  
Calling on Christ to apply His healing atoning grace is a deeply personal experience.  Enos found a way to call on the powers of Heaven.  Alma experienced the healing of the Atonement and the purification of his heart in a remarkable way.
This is available to ALL who will repent and desire to obey.  Follow the simple pattern Enos showed us.  Pray.  Desire with your whole heart.  Plead.  Ask for your sins to be forgiven.  Ask for your burdens to be done away with.  Ask for your heart to be healed and purified.  He delights in answering the desires of our hearts.  Ask Him for what He most wants to give us.  And then, express all the feelings in your grateful heart.  Share your gratitude for the miracle of the Atonement of Christ and for His love for you.
Here is what I've learned.  First off, find a quiet time- Sacrament Meeting, early morning- whenever.  Next, kneel, if possible.  Fast, if appropriate.  Pray.  The words you need to speak will come to you.  Let your heart be full of desire.  Spend time feeling this desire:  your desire for forgiveness, your desire to be comforted, your desire for healing, your desire for understanding.  
Remember how intensely Enos prayed?  All day and night.  That was desire.  Remember how Alma was in the pangs of bitterness and despair?  He was desperate.  Let your heart fill with desire.  Pray in faith, knowing that He is listening and loving you and so pleased with your actions and efforts and desires.  He is so happy that you are going to call upon His gift that has already been paid for.
Then just ask.  Ask Christ to heal the burdens you have.  Ask Heavenly Father to allow the healing power of the Atonement of your Lord to fill you up,  that the love of Christ will enter your body and soul and the darkness and sadness and untruths will flee, that the marvelous healing power of Christ's atonement will make you more than you can be on your own.  
Bask in the feelings of love.  Don't rush. Stay and feel the love of your Savior.  Feel the peace as your burdens are lightened. Ask Him to help you continue to grow in His love and light.  Thank Him for His amazing gift and love.
For me, this isn't a one-time event.  You can do it anytime.  Daily, weekly,  hmm... during the Sacrament...
These are deep treasures from my heart.  I offer them to you out of love and desire that they will help you find the way that works best for you to connect with our Savior and ask for the healing powers of His atonement to work in your life to bless you and your family.
As we ask and receive and seek and find, we will become more converted and better Disciples of Christ.  In Helaman 3:35 it says, "They did fast and pray often, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the Faith of Christ, unto the filling of their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."
We all have amazing potential and missions to perform while here on earth. Heavenly Father and Jesus want to help us achieve our potential and overcome things that are holding us back so we can lift and serve others.  

 ****This is a copy of a talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting in August 2015****

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