This is a long one...
I am amazed at the Savior’s encircling arms of mercy and love for the
repentant, no matter how selfish the forsaken sin. I testify that the Savior is
able and eager to forgive our sins. Except for the sins of those few who choose
perdition after having known a fullness, there is no sin that cannot be forgiven.
What a marvelous privilege for each of us to turn away from our sins and to come
unto Christ. Divine forgiveness is one of the sweetest fruits of the gospel,
removing guilt and pain from our hearts and replacing them with joy and peace of
conscience. Jesus declares, “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your
sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?" (Elder Neil A. Andersen, "Repent...That I May Heal You).
The last topic of gratitude from President Monson's talk is gratitude for the Jesus Christ.
This is one of those topics where I don't even know where to begin. There is so much to be grateful for and it all comes from Him and from the sacrifice He gave for us.
One of my favorite talks on the Savior is Elder Holland's None Were With Him. Listening is better, but reading is just as good.
I love my Savior, I am grateful for the Atonement. I am grateful that He loved us so much that he gave his life so that we may live again. The most pertinent aspect of the Savior's life, ministry and Atonement for me is the ability to repent of my sins. The more I study the Atonement the more real it becomes to me. The sacrifice that the Savior made grows as I understand how much the Atonement encompasses.
In Elder Jeffrey R. Hollands talk I mentioned above, he says, "...the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit...It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind - us, all of us - would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone."
It takes my mind to John 16:33 - "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Jesus Christ knows exactly how we feel or have felt. He has been there, he as descended beneath them all, he has felt every anguish, every pain, heartache that we have ever felt. That was what happened in the Garden, he took upon himself all of our sins...all of our sins. As Elder Holland said in the quote above, "this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing" took on our sins, he took on my sins. He overcame the world for me.
At the end of Elder Holland's talk he says of Christ's lonely journey that it "must never be reenacted by us. He has walked alone once. Now, may I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers when He sees you and me along His Via Dolorosa in our present day." There was a time that I read that as a commitment to never sin. And while it is, it is not only that. It is a promise that when (and I must say 'when' because none of us are perfect, we all fall from time to time) when we sin we repent. We take part in what Jesus offered us by giving his life, and not only by giving his life but by suffering for our sins when he himself had never committed a sin. He gave us the gift of the atonement, the opportunity to repent of our sins and become clean again. I imagine that when we sin and do not repent we are in essence recreating the scenes of Christ's lonely journey, we are forsaking him again as everyone had once done already.
It makes me think of a story I've heard several times. "Push ups for Donuts" (or often called, Seminary Donuts":
There was a boy by the name of Steve who was attending school in Utah. In this school Seminary classes are held during school hours. Brother Christianson taught Seminary at this particular school. He had an open-door policy and would take in any student that had been thrown out of another class as long as they would abide by his rules. Steve had been kicked out of his sixth period and no other teacher wanted him, so he went into Brother Christianson's Seminary class.
Steve was told that he could not be late, so he arrived just seconds before the bell rang and he would sit in the very back of the room. He would also be the first to leave after the class was over.
One day, Brother Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. After class, Bro. Christianson pulled Steve aside and said, "You think you're pretty tough, don't you?"
Steve's answer was, "Yeah, I do."
Then Brother Christianson asked, "How many push-ups can you do?"
Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."
"200? That's pretty good, Steve," Brother Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"
Steve replied, "I don't know... I've never done 300 at a time."
"Do you think you could?" Again asked Brother Christianson.
"Well, I can try," said Steve.
"Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I need you to do 300 in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," Brother Christianson said.
Steve said, "Well... I think I can... yeah, I can do it."
Brother Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday."Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, Brother Christianson pulled out a big box of donuts. Now these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited-it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend.
Bro. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want a donut?"Cynthia said, "Yes."
Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"
Steve said, "Sure," and jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk.
Bro. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.
Bro. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe do you want a donut?"Joe said, "Yes." Bro. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?" Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut.
And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push ups for every person before they got their donut.
And down the second aisle, till Bro. Christianson came to Scott.
Scott was captain of the football team and center of the basketball team. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When Bro. Christianson asked, "Scott do you want a donut?"Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own push ups?"
Bro. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."
Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."
Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?"
Steve started to do ten push ups. Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"
Bro. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.
Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Bro. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.
Bro. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"Jenny said, "No."
Then Bro. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve,would you do ten push ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?" Steve did ten, Jenny got a donut.
By now, the students were beginning to say "No" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve was also having to really put forth a lot of effort to get these push ups done for each donut.
There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.
Bro. Christianson asked Robert to watch Steve to make sure he did ten push ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. So Robert began to watch Steve closely. Bro. Christianson started down the fourth row.
During his class, however, some students had wandered in and sat along the heaters along the sides of the room. When Bro. Christianson realized this; he did a quick count and saw 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.
Bro. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.
Steve asked Bro. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?"Bro. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, they're your push ups. You can do them any way that you want."
And Bro. Christianson went on.
A few moments later, Jason came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!"Jason didn't know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."
Bro. Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push ups for him."
Steve said, "Yes, let him come in."
Bro. Christianson said, "Okay, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?"
"Steve, will you do ten push ups so that Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.
Bro. Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those seated on the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat was dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was not a dry eye in the room.
The very last two girls in the room were cheerleaders and very popular. Bro. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?"
Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."
Bro. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten push ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?"
Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push ups for Linda. Then Bro. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut?"
Susan, with tears flowing down her face, asked, "Bro. Christianson , can I help him?"
Bro. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, he has to do it alone, Steve, would you do ten push ups so Susan can have a donut?"
As Steve very slowly finished his last push up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.
Brother Christianson turned to the room and said. "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, plead to the Father, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit." With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, he collapsed on the cross and died. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten."
This story always gives me goosebumps. When they said they didn't want a donut he asked Steve, "would you do ten push-ups for a donut she doesn't want?" And then later as more students want to come in and the class yell out "No!" but Steve, being the one to learn the most from this lesson says, "Let them in." But the last words of the teacher in this story seem to go very well with those of Elder Holland, "And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten."
Let us not waste the gift of the atonement. Whether we partake of it or not it is done, and it was done out of love so that we would have it, so we could repent. "May I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers when He sees you and me along His Via Dolorosa."
I love the Savior and am truly grateful for all that He has done for me, for the love he has shown me, for His personal attributes that teach me the way that I should be, and the person I am striving to become.