Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Believe in Obedience and Sacrifice

Articles of Faith #3
[I] believe that through the Atonement of Christ, [I and] all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

Coming to understand the Atonement has been a long, hard lesson. Although I learned in Primary (children's religious study) that Jesus loves me and died for my sins, what I learned there was nothing compared to the reality of the Atonement.

I have heard the endless debates over faith vs. works to be saved, and I have heard even more endless accusations against those who obey before they gain full knowledge. Like with so many things of the Gospel, faith and works, obedience and knowledge must be balanced to truly follow Christ's example.

After and during some recent serious upheavals in my life, I went through a period of dark depression. I was convinced that I was incapable of pleasing anyone, that I was unwanted and a burden to those around me. My mistakes were unconquerable and numerous. I failed to give my husband enough time, failed to present a kind and gentle heart to those around me. I was full of complaints and frustration. I failed with even the simple task of providing nourishment to my new and precious daughter. I could not connect with people in the Church, could not fulfill the callings I was given . . . . The list went on forever. Every time I grasped at even the slimmest redeeming quality in me, voices clamored in my mind to demean it or turn it into a weakness.

I fought with waning energy to twist myself out of it. I tried counselling, which didn't help. I was desperate for a friend to talk to, but afraid to burden anyone else with the intensity of my emotion, even had there been any one at the time. My slender conviction in Christ, what felt like a wild hope of redemption, was what got me through my daily ritual. All of the "little obedience sticks" like praying, scripture reading and church participation suffered.

Though I can't remember how or when, it was probably in my sporadic scripture reading, that I came across the words of Christ in D&C 50:41-42: "Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost."
I received an unmistakable confirmation that I was included among those the Father had given to Christ. My wild hope strengthened almost imperceptibly. For the first time in years, I had really felt the Spirit in regards to me. It gave me the strength to keep fighting. In short, my faith in the Atonement led to works.

Some time later, I read this again, "if [you] come unto me I will show unto [you your] weakness. I give unto [you] weakness that [you] may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if [you] humble [yourself] before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto [you]." Suddenly, I realized that the covenant I had made to never give up was beginning to bear fruit. I was reliving depression because I needed to understand where I was coming from. I needed to see that everything I became from then out was because of my Savior.

When I came to understand this, my "works" were illuminated. My efforts were not to prove my worth, or to mold myself into His image, they were the simple expression of devotion. Suddenly, I wanted to obey! I yearned to submit and to serve. I realized that I could be saved through obedience, not because I had to conform, but because those laws and ordinances I followed would bring me joy.

I do not always understand or perfectly agree with the things I am told by the leadership of the Church. But I do know that I will be blessed for my conscious, devoted obedience to the laws of Christ and His Church. It may take courage to rebel against established authority, but it takes more courage to trust and submit without a perfect understanding.

I don't understand the Atonement. I don't know how Christ could love me enough to do all that He has, both in life and after His death. I don't know or understand all His dealings with His anointed servants. But I "know in whom I have trusted." I know His capacity for forgiveness and trust His capacity to change the hearts of men. And so, I will obey.


  1. This is an amazing post, SilverRain! I especially liked what you wrote in the second to last paragraph: "It may take courage to rebel against established authority, but it takes more courage to trust and submit without a perfect understanding."

    It takes courage and faith to trust God (and follow His servants) when we can't see the path ahead of us.

    Recently, in my own personal scripture study, I've been focusing on trying to understand the Atonement a little bit more. That's what led me to write the "Atonement of Jesus Christ" and I'm going to write a follow up article as there was so much more I had wanted to include.

    Thanks again for your words!

  2. Good article! Thanks for referencing D&C 50:41-42, as it's a scriptural verse of great comfort.


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