"One hour, can't you wake and wait with me?"
He speaks in gentle tones to sleeping friends,
"Come watch with me." On this all life depends.
And yet alone he kneels beside a tree.
One hour, is it so hard? And yet they sleep.
No man on earth or heaven bears to see
The weight of worlds of sin and misery
That through each pore this blood-letting now seeps.
One hour, how easily we condemn
Disciples who could not remain awake
Though the whole earth within this moment quakes--
In doing so, our own lives we condemn.
One hour, moment of weakness when we sin--
We too asleep have failed Christ once again.
I have been pondering a little upon the atonement as of late (not nearly as much as I should be, but it is on my mind). The atonement of Jesus Christ is obviously something that I understand very little concerning, yet to my life--to all of our lives--it is everything. The prophet Alma simplifies the atonement into a beautiful explanation, which when I read and really think about what it is saying, it truly brings tears to my eyes. Speaking of Christ before he was even born, Alma states: "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. 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. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me." (Alma 7: 11-13). Read that again slowly, and think upon each phrase, each word, and think upon your own life experiences--each heartache, pain, or negative response that you have ever had and think upon Christ. I cannot speak for you, but for myself, there have been times when the suffering has completely isolated me from all else--an intense feeling of alone coupled with the pain--the feeling that nobody else in this moment could possibly know or understand my feelings, yet I have erred. It is exactly in those moments in times past that I have fallen upon my knees in prayer and received that succor through the Spirit. I do not understand how, but I know that Christ suffered the exact feelings that I have suffered. I am never alone and my pain is never unique. How many times have I been on my knees when the Spirit has whispered peace to my heart and mind, reminding me that my Savior understands perfectly having experienced what I am experiencing acutely. It amazes me that this includes all physical pain, mental anguish, emotional suffering, any negative feeling or response that is imaginable (and perhaps many of which are unimaginable). It is truly incredible! This includes not only the sufferings that we have brought upon ourselves, but the sufferings that have been placed upon us with no explanation as to why. The scope of the atonement is truly beyond comprehension. It covers the intense sufferings of cancer patients, the unknowable sufferings of mental patients, the most horrific accidents, but also covers the pain of a sliver or the feeling of sadness one feels when a friend is moving away. There is no emotion or feeling that Christ has not experienced through the atonement--he knows exactly how we feel. How grateful I am for this knowledge. What a comfort it provides knowing at any time I can find solace upon my knees as I petition the Lord for relief (or at least understanding--after all, sometimes the pain remains but the burden is lighter knowing that Christ understands perfectly).
And then there is sin. How often I have read the account of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and the apostles who were so exhausted that they could not stay awake in support of the Savior. Alone, Christ faced the challenge--truly alone. How often have I thought, "one hour--could I stay awake but one more hour if I were there? An hour isn't much time in the grand scheme of things." But the rebuke comes to my mind, how many times throughout the course of my life have I not been faithful to the savior for but an hour? Couldn't I endure the temptation but for one hour? The atonement covers our sins as well. The most heinous of sins can be forgiven through the atonement (it is not a simple confession, and would require a truly mighty change of heart but it is possible) as can the seemingly simple sins of everyday life. How often have I failed in an hour by saying an unkind word or failing to act upon the promptings of the spirit, or neglecting the commandments? What happened in that hour? How grateful I am that Christ is merciful--to know that if I humble myself with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, I can be forgiven. I have felt extreme anguish on account of my sins, knowing that I have been the cause of another's suffering (i.e. Christ) and I have also felt the exquisite joy that comes through repentance and the feeling of being redeemed, forgiven, and made whole. I know that the atonement is real--I have experienced it on countless occasions in my life and I am ever indebted to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for offering up himself on my behalf. How thankful I am for such a knowledge and for having had such experiences.
Such topics are generally not the subject of my blogs but for some reason I feel compelled to write this tonight--perhaps for my own benefit.