24 February 2013

The Atonement

Elder Orson F. Whitney describes a dream he once had. He explained that in this dream he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he was a witness to the Saviors agony that night. These are his words: 

"I was in the Garden of Gethsemane... I stood behind a tree in the foreground... Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, came through... at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, He passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed... 'Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt.'

"As He prayed the tears streamed down His face... I was so moved at the sight that I wept also, out of pure sympathy with His great sorrow... I loved Him with all my soul and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else.

"... All at once the circumstance seemed to change.. Instead of before, it was after the Crucifixion, and the Savior, with those three Apostles, now stood together in a group at my left. They were about to depart and ascend into heaven. I could endure it no longer. I ran from behind the tree, fell at His feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged Him to take me with Him. 

"I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stooped and raised me up and embraced me. It was so vivid, so real that I felt the very warmth of His bosom against which I rested. Then He said: "No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me; but you must stay and finish yours.' Still I clung to Him. Gazing up into His face... I besought Him most earnestly: 'Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last.' He smiled sweetly and tenderly replied: 'That will depend entirely upon yourself.' I awoke with a sob in my throat, and it was morning." 

This dream that Elder Orson F. Whitney shares, fills my heart to its brim. My gratitude and humility flow over every chamber of my heart. I know the way Elder Orson F. Whitney felt when seeing the Lord, is nothing short of how each and every one of us would feel. I know that is why there is a veil placed in our minds; because I know that if we were to behold the Savior in all His glory, our absence and longing from our home in heaven would take over our heart, and we could not bear to be away from it a second longer. 

My Savior suffered for me. He suffered for the sick. He suffered for the sinner. He suffered for the unbeliever, and each of us - all of us - no matter what we have done, or where we have been, are entitled to the saving and precious gift of the Atonement. There are times, in my selfish and un-Christlike heart, I wish He would withhold the precious gift of forgiveness and mercy from someone, because of their unfaithful heart. How arrogant and prideful my heart can be. He has paid the price for all of us. The repentant heart who feels sorrow for mistreating a friend, is just as entitled to this gift as is the repentant who has fallen away from the church, committed serious transgressions, and come back to the gospel. This perfect and beautiful gift is not withheld from any of us. It is always there, as is our Lord, Whose hand is perfectly and always stretched forth. There is no greater gift. There is no greater blessing. How eternally and forever grateful I am.