The Power of the Atonement
Hello my dear Brothers and Sisters,
A lot of missionaries when they go to a foreign country experience culture shock and I knew that would happen to me in Ukraine. To start off my talk today I thought I would share my experience of culture shock.
STORY about chicken with it's head cut off and first village I visited and worked in.
As I continued to serve my mission, I realized Ukraine didn’t change but I did.
I learned to love Ukraine in a very deep way as I began to truly understand just how Christ feels about those people. Through them and my experiences there I feel that I finally began to understand better who Jesus is.
I would ask you to pause and think in your minds about this question.
As members of the church we declare to not only know Christ’s doctrine, but the individual Himself. But do we really know Him?
This eternal all powerful all knowing older brother of ours wants a personal relationship with us, His brothers and sisters that He did EVERYTHING for.
I would submit that real understanding of who Christ is comes from personal, true experience with Him and with His atonement.
For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.
I love this because of the words infinite and eternal. His love, and His sacrifice is endless, limitless, unchanging, true, and everlasting. He gives us endless chances to make our mistakes right. His atonement is without beginning and without end. He will never change His promises to us. His help is limitless to us.
And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.
Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was not just an infinite sacrifice it is also an intimate sacrifice. Christ has a very personal ministry with each one of us.
And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.
What does it mean to have faith unto repentance?
Clearly, our faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ is what makes possible the forgiveness of our sins; it is the only way to become clean from our transgressions.
If we have the faith then we act and we will cry unto Jesus for His unlimited mercy and His forgiveness and love.
For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
We must repent and we must do it now. This shows gratitude for the atonement of our Lord and Savior and then we will feel the true and infinite and intimate power of the atonement in our daily lives.
The Savior’s Atonement is eternal. His Atonement encompasses all. His Atonement is everything to me. I still do not understand how the atonement works, but I know that it does. The Atonement is a miracle. It just works, but only if we use it.
Early on in my mission I began to pray that I would be able to experience finding someone who could change through the atonement of Christ after already being set in their ways of life, and their own religion. I already knew it was possible, but I really wanted to be able to see this first hand.
The Lord blessed me and granted me my wish.
Dinara. About 10 months ago I met a girl of 25, pregnant and living with her boyfriend. We had a powerful first lesson with her and we were eager to continue to teach and help her. After that spirit filled first lesson we prayed and we prepared, but she no longer wanted to meet. We were sad of course but used to this kind of story so, we kept praying for her but stopped calling after about 3 months of nothing. She kept coming to church almost weekly but did not want to meet with the missionaries. Finally one day in March she called and invited us over again. When we went to her house she offered to say the prayer, and she prayed like a member. The first lesson she would not even pray she was so scared. She opened up her Book of Mormon and showed us some passages where heaven really taught her. We continued to teach her and we continued to see these kinds of results. She got married to her boyfriend, she gained a testimony of the principles we taught a testimony of the eternal family and she exercised her faith to live the commandments she was not immediately sure about. It all seemed so simple, so easy. We were so proud of her and all that she was doing. One day, she decided to share more of her story with us. She told us about the horrible life she had been living for years on end, her desire to find truth and to change but the seemily impossibility that it had been for her while she was so deeply entrenched in sin. One day she found herself in the hospital. She had a deeply personal and beautiful experience with the Lord. He invited her to stop what she was doing and to “Come, Follow Him.” She did not know how she was going to be able to do this, but she knew this was her chance to choose between the Lord and Satan. Only through the Savior and His mighty power to save did she gradually begin to put her life back into order. She cried as she testified of His love, of His infinite power to change her heart, her desires, her path. She never imagined her life could be as joyful as incredible, and as full of light as it is now in the gospel. She never knew she was worthy of an eternal family, or of love of God. She did not know of her divine identity as a special daughter of God. Because of Jesus Christ, my sister now knows. She still has not been baptized, she has to wait for the permission of her husband but she is diligently seeking her Savior day after day. Her life was completely changed through the atonement of jesus Christ. she let the Savior in and she let Him change her. Her path to conversion has not been a simple one. But she is strong because of her Lord and Redeemer. She is my example and my joy.
I know that God loves every one of us. He loves us no matter what level we are on. He loves us if we are poor or if we are rich. He loves us if we love Him or if we don’t.
He never gives up on us.
Galina. I saw this in my beloved friend Galina who joined the church some years ago but after trials and tribulation and heartache fell away. I watched the Lord work in mysterious ways to help this sweet woman, my hero to return to Him through the power of the atonement. God never forgets us. He helped us find this sweet woman and her 11 year old son. I watched this woman change day by day as she began to truly help her 11 year old son prepare for baptism. Dima was pure and has the gift of faith. As he grew in love for His savior and commited to Him he became a light and an example to His sweet hurting mom. He helped her to begin to pray again, to read, to remember that Jesus loved her. One day after many failed attempts of getting her to come to church she looked at us and said, “Sisters, its time I come back to church. It is already time. I am coming tomorrow!” I watched as she struggled to come back, but as she hung on tight to the Savior and she began to bear a fervent testimony of Him. She has not left since.
Dima. We all can learn a lot from this experience with 11 year old Dima and His mom. I learned that not only does the atonement work for people who are making mistakes, or have strayed from the path, but that it works with the little children. All of us would do well to really look at our children as the pure vessels that they are. Yes I understand they aren’t perfect either and that they can try our patience, but truly they are closer to Jesus than we are. They were much more recently with Him. They know Him and they love Him. As they grow and progress we can truly see how the power of the atonement touches their lives. Their pure faith and love for their older brother can teach us much.
If you aren’t feeling the truly remarkable power of the atonement in your life I beg of you, please just go to Him. Repent of those things that need repenting of. More than anything on my mission I learned of the true love that our Father in Heaven and Christ have for their children. I know God loves you all so much. He asks us to be obedient, to repent and to return to Him. I know that we can do this with a Savior who is with us every step of the way. I invite you to set some personal goals in your life as to how you can better utilize the gift of the atonement in your daily life. I know we can do more. I want you to know that I love you too.
I am grateful for the time God spent on me to help me to come unto the Savior. I never want to leave His side. I know He is the light and the way. Jesus has the power to heal, to save, to love, to renew, to make whole, to fix, to redeem, and to change. It was a pleasure to learn to love God’s children and to be able to see them through the eyes of God. They love my brothers in sisters in Ukraine so much. They have shared Their love for them with me. I love them with my whole heart. I love their unique culture, their thoughts, their way of life. I miss them. Ukraine has become my home. My heart is there. Ukraine has become sacred ground for me.
I am grateful to God for the opportunity He has given me to serve on a mission. It has been the greatest blessing I have ever received. There is nothing quite like it. It was not always easy, but I didn’t ask for that. The Savior sacrificed and suffered so much. It is a privilege to come to understand only the smallest inkling of what He went through to save mankind. He did it. He is miraculous. He is pure light and pure goodness. My heart has broken for Him on my mission.
On my mission I have come to know Him. He was the one there every time my very soul broke and I knew I just couldn’t go on. He was beside me as I cried on my knees from pain, heartbreak, sorrow or fear. He held my hand in His as I attempted to teach His words in Russian. He sent His angels to wrap their arms around me as I stood in need of comfort.
He pushed me forward cheering, “YOU CAN DO THIS!” I know we can do anything with Him.
My Savior touched the lives of all that I met- all my brothers and sisters.
He helped me convert to Him.
He is all that I have.
I want to be like Him. I want to love like I know He loves me, and each one of us. I want to teach as He has taught me. I want weep as He weeped for me and for all mankind. I want to walk beside Him-my Lord, my Shepherd, my Brother-forever.
I can’t imagine a world without Him. He has shown me many great and marvelous things.
He trusted in me little weak Sister Karren to go beside Him and preach His gospel to His beloved people- my brothers and sisters.
He knew I needed Ukraine. He taught me love, care, and hard work. He instilled in me a love so deep I dare to say it cant be broken.
He taught me about sacrifice. I came to understand that sacrificing things is necessary to receive blessings. I know that my sacrifices were small but enough for the Lord. I came to the realization that though I “sacrificed” time, family, friends, etc. it wasn’t a sacrifice at all. It was the greatest blessing I have ever received.
Jesus’s sacrifice for us was also His greatest blessing. I know He feels it a privilege to know us all perfectly and to be the one to bring us unto the Father. Yes it was hard, impossibly hard. But it was worth it to Him because He loves us.
We can make it up to Him by just trying a little harder to be a little better and just knock off the bad behavior and our laziness and stupidity and just love Him by keeping His commandments and doing as He would do.
I want to follow in His footsteps ALWAYS. I do not want to do anything to jeopardize my relationship with Him. I don’t want Him to hurt more than He has to. So I will actively act to repent, to change so that I can be clean and worthy to be in His presence.
What a glorious day that will be to look in His face and know Him like He knows you. I cant wait to hug my Savior who did and does and will continue to do all He can so that we can come home. I know He waits with open arms.
RUN TO HIM!