Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Memorable Experience Learning about the Atonement of Christ

At some point in our lives we all have to learn how to use the Atonement of Christ. I don’t mean just that theory knowledge, but that knowledge that comes from trying it and experiencing it. I want to tell you about an experience that taught me about the power of the Atonement and gave me the faith to repent.

It was my second year at BYU and one particular day I had a really really bad day. From beginning to end it just felt wretched. As I lay in bed that night, thinking over the day and wishing I could start over again or wipe it away, I was pouring my troubles out to the Lord, when I started to wonder if the Atonement covered bad days. I asked the Lord if He could take my burden from me or whether I was required to carry it myself and the answer came back, “Do you think I can?” I answered that the scriptures said that He could take our burdens from us. The answer came back, “Then LET GO of it.” I exercised my faith and immediately I felt the remembrance of the day lift from my mind and it was as if the ceiling had just been lifted off the walls revealing clear sky. With curiosity I probed my memory, looking for remnants of misery and I found none! I had just been relieved of the entire day and I felt as though I had just found my way back to bed from morning to evening with nothing in between. Like a day had been wiped from my life. I loved it, and I started crying again as I thanked the Lord for His mercy.
Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.. (Mosiah 14:4)
I realize that my experience that I have described above was not exactly repentance. I was not asking forgiveness of a sin, but asking for my bad day (a certain period of grief) to be taken away. But having such an experience was a big faith builder for me and I thought, “If my bad days can be taken away like this, then I can ask for forgiveness of my sins and have them taken away too!”

I began to be more careful to ask forgiveness for my sins when I prayed. I would think about what I had done since the last time I prayed and try to see if there was anything that I did that wasn’t right, and then when I found something I did, no matter how small, I asked the Lord to forgive me. It was very satisfying to know that my mistakes and offenses could be wiped away like this.

I ran across a scripture in the Book of Mormon that describes the process.
2 And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
3 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them. (Mosiah 4:2-3)
I’ve found that when asking for forgiveness, it is best if I begin by confessing to Heavenly Father in prayer what I have done. I tell Him that I know it was wrong and then I ask for my sin to be covered by the Atonement of Christ and I ask to be forgiven. Then I exercise faith that I have been heard and I let go of the sin and trust that it has been taken.

Sometimes letting go of the sin is harder than other times. It is especially hard for me when I have let someone down somehow or been a bad example. But it has to be released, otherwise we don’t get that wonderful relief of feeling forgiven and feeling clean. I’ve found that it helps to use my imagination and visualize myself throwing my sin up in the air and the Lord catching it. I’ve read that other people like to imagine nailing their sins to the cross. I think anything that helps you let go is good.