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Monday, November 22, 2010

An Apostles Testimony of The Atonement

As a missionary one of the things I really enjoy is the fact that every single morning we have a chunk of time set aside for studying the scriptures and the words of modern day prophets and apostles. This morning, I came across a story about the Savior and His atonement, that I had read before, but had kinda forgotten about, and I think that it deserves re-telling, so I'm gonna share it. It's an experience as told by Elder Orson F. Whitney, who later served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but this experience happened to him while serving as a missionary.
He said: "Then came a marvelous manifestation, an admonition from a higher source, one impossible to ignore. It was a dream, or a vision in a dream, as I lay upon my bed in the little town of Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I seemed to be in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior's agony. I saw Him as plainly as ever I have seen anyone. Standing behind a tree in the foreground, I beheld Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, as they came through a little wicket gate at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, the Son of God passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed. It was the same prayer with which all Bible readers are familiar: ‘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, which was [turned] toward me. I was so moved at the sight that I wept also, out of pure sympathy. My whole heart went out to Him. I loved Him with all my soul and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else.
Presently He arose and walked to where those Apostles were kneeling—fast asleep! He shook them gently, awoke them, and in a tone of tender reproach, untinctured by the least show of anger or impatience, asked them plaintively if they could not watch with Him one hour. There He was, with the awful weight of the world's sin upon his shoulders, with the pangs of every man, woman, and child shooting through his sensitive soul-and they could not watch with him one poor hour!
Returning to His place, He prayed again and then went back and found them again sleeping. Again He awoke them, admonished them, and returned and prayed as before. Three times this happened, until I was perfectly familiar with His appearance—face, form, and movements. He was of noble stature and of majestic mien … the very God that He was and is, yet as meek and lowly as a little child.
All at once the circumstance seemed to change, the scene remaining just the same. Instead of before, it was after the Crucifixion, and the Savior, with the 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 stopped and raised me up and embraced me. It was so vivid, so real that I felt the very warmth of His body, as He held me in His arms and said in the tenderest tones: ‘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—for He was taller than I—I besought Him most earnestly: ‘Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last.’ Smiled sweetly He said: ‘That will depend entirely upon yourself.’ I awoke with a sob in my throat, and it was morning.
'That's from God,' said Elder Musser, when I related to him what I had seen and heard. 'I do not need to be told that,' was my reply. I saw the moral clearly. I had enver though of being an Apostle, nor of holding any other office in the Church, and it did not occur to me even then. Yet I know that those sleeping Apostles meant me. I was asleep at my post-as any man is who, having been divinely appointed to do one thing, does another."
I love that story, for many different reasons, and there are many different things we can learn from it. But at least for me, I love the imagery that comes to mind when he is describing the Savior. The love that Christ has for each and every one of us is so apparent. That's why He performed the atonement, cause He loves us so much, and wants us to return to Him. Also I really like when in the dream, Elder Whitney asks to return and live with Him in the end, and Christs response is "That will depend entirely upon yourself." Our Savior wants us all to return, and has showed and prepared for us the way that we can do that, but it is entirely up to us individually to follow His teachings and accept His gospel, and once we do that, THEN is when His atonement can have a fuller impact in our lives. Elder Whitney's remarks at the end about how he felt he was "sleeping at his post" is very applicable to us as well. The Lord has asked each of us to do certain things, for some it's different than others. We all have our duties, and the important thing is that we find out what the Lord wants us to be doing, and then to Do It! With all our "heart, might, mind and strength," and not to be "sleeping at our post."
I know my Redeemer Lives, and He is aware of us! His atonement can and will have a lasting impact on your life, if we do what He has asked, and follow His Doctrine, (3 Nephi 27, 2 Nephi 31) as it is found in the Restored Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If we do, He will bless us, and strengthen us, so that we can do whatever it is He asks of us.

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