Thinking of the Atonement as my Personal Altar

25 September 2016



I've been mulling over some thoughts about the Atonement for awhile, and I expressed them for the first time in Relief Society today because they correlated with the lesson.  A number of women came up to me afterwards and expressed such sincere appreciation for how much my words helped them.  Truly, the feeling was grand.  I felt connected to so many women.  That feeling of being looked squarely in the eyes and hearing, "Thaaaank yoooou for saying what you did" and knowing that we all feel the same at times.  I love that connection.

I expressed-


The first example of sacrifice we ever see in the scriptures is when Abraham brings his son Isaac to the altar to offer him up to God.  The altar then becomes the first symbol of exchange between us as humans and God, where we offer something of ours to Him, and He promises something in return.


God continues to teach us through this idea of exchanging ourselves across an altar before Him.  We see our own altar really clearly in the ordinances of baptism and the Sacrament.

When we partake in the baptismal ordinance, we are performing a sacrifice of ourselves – our first exchange across a symbolic altar.  We bring our sins and repentant heart to God and exchange them for the Holy Ghost.  Then, each week, the Sacrament becomes our symbolic altar to renew the original baptismal exchange.  We create come to God with our broken hearts and contrite spirits, and we exchange them for His forgiveness and the Holy Ghost again.  Also, our evening prayers of repentance can serve as this same symbolic offer – putting our shortcomings and sadness on the altar and receiving forgiveness and comfort in exchange.  And so continually and frequently, we are coming to His altar of sacrifice and letting go and receiving better.

So the Atonement and “altar” have become synonymous in my mind.  The Atonement is always an exchange between something of our human selves and something of God’s Higher Self.  Here is our fumbling, and here is God’s touch.  We come to the Atonement altar with a sin, and we seek forgiveness.  We come to the altar with a despondent heart, and we seek comfort.  We come to the altar with doubt, and we seek reassurance.
And we must come to the altar over and over and over again.

And when Satan comes to attack us with discouragement and shame, trying to make us feel bad about something we did, we can say, "No, I don't have to.  I have already taken it to the altar and exchanged it with God."

We are fully freed in every exchange across the altar of the Atonement.

I always ponder on this quote from Elder Holand:


“We must be willing to place all that we have, not just our possessions (they may be the easiest things of all to give up), but also our ambition and pride and stubbornness and vanity--we must place it all on the altar of God, kneel there in silent submission, and willing walk away.”


The Atonement is so beautiful.

Even when you write out the word "aTonemenT," you can connect the tops of the T's and create a table structure - an altar.  Ha, anyway,

Upward and onward,

 





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