Hello my loved ones!
Well happy late Easter again to everyone!! This email may not be too long this week but I'll try to make it worth the read! So pretty much this whole week leading up to Easter I have been studying the Atonement and I am so excited to share what I've learned!
Easter was good yesterday. Yesterday morning we began studies and then got a call on the phone from a private number, I answered and I knew who it was on the other end of the phone (sister Dean) and she said "you need to clean up your yard" we looked outside and there were eater eggs all over out front lawn haha we put on our shoes to go out and find sister Dean and when we opened the door we saw two big Easter baskets and pictures of our families all over our front door, it was such a tender mercy and we were so grateful for it. Then we went to church and it was kind of sad because the only person who knows how to play the organ got sick and couldn't come to church to play so it was all quiet at first but he Easter service for Sunday was great. Then we had Easter dinner with our relief society president and her family,
Then we went over to a less actives home for an appointment we had but apparently we caught her and her husband at a bad time, but he invited us in and her husband is not a member he is Catholic. Well sister Shaffer and I soon found out that we had walked into an argument that they were having as a couple...but out of his spirit of irritation he kinda started taking it out on us because we were there. He began asking the questions about polygamy, and saying rude things about Joseph Smith and telling us that what we believe is wrong...etc etc etc. He kept asking prodding questions like that and I tried to answer some of his questions as best I could but it got to the point where all I could do was bear my testimony. I shared with him some scriptures from Alma 5 and I told him that he didn't have to believe what we believed but that I know that Jesus Christ is the son of God. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I know that The Book of Mormon is true. Not because anyone persuaded me to believe in it, but I know these things are true because the spirit of God taught it to me. He kept cutting us off and throwing other anti things at us...that he demanded the answers to. He wouldn't stop though, and He asked us to answer some of these things but I kinda had had enough of it all and with all the love I could muster and all the boldness I could have, I flat out told him that it didnt matter if we answer his questions right now or not because he wasnt ready to receive the answers. He is a nice guy but in that moment he lacked a sincere heart and real intent the spirit was not there so I didn't want to be there either. We invited them to pray together as a couple. And he did t like my response too much haha but I stood up, shook his hand and thanked him for allowing us in and wished him a happy Easter, and left....happy Easter!! Haha.
So that was my Easter Sunday haha. But I want to share with all some things I learned about the Atonement. I have been thinking lately how I have wanted to increase my gratitude and love for the savior and His Atonement. I read through Matthew 26 this week with the Institute manual. And in it I learned a few things that helped to expand my love for Him and what He has done. This week I learned that,
- IT WASN'T EASY FOR HIM...
"the Atonement “required all the power that [Jesus] had and all the faith that He could summon for Him to accomplish that which the Father required of Him”
I used to think when I was younger that maybe it wasn't so hard for Him, because He was perfect, because He was the Son of God. I knew that Jesus died for me when I was younger but I didn't understand why, or how hard (that word is a total understatement btw) it was for Him to accomplish. Elder Scott said it in a way that helped me to appreciate so much more deeply,
- HE HAD TO DO IT PERFECTLY...
"First, an enormous sense of responsibility, for He realized that except it be done perfectly, not one of His Father’s children could return to Him. They would be forever banished from His presence since there would be no way to repent for broken laws and no unclean thing can exist in the presence of God. His Father’s plan would have failed, and each spirit child would have been under the eternal control and torment of Satan.
“Second, in His absolutely pure mind and heart, He had to personally feel the consequences of all that mankind would ever encounter, even the most depraved, despicable sins.
“Third, He had to endure the vicious attack of Satan’s hordes while physically and emotionally pressed to the limit. Then, for reasons we do not fully know, while at the extremity of His capacity, at the time the Savior most needed succor, His Father allowed Him to shoulder the onerous responsibility with only His own strength and capacity"
- satan WAS IN THE GARDEN TOO THAT NIGHT...
This one I had never really thought about before but it had never really occurred to me that satan was in that garden too that night. Tad R. Callister explained it in this way,
"With merciless fury Satan’s forces must have attacked the Savior on all fronts. … The Savior pressed forward in bold assault until every prisoner was freed from the tenacious tentacles of the Evil One. This was a rescue mission of infinite implications. Every muscle of the Savior, every virtue, every spiritual reservoir that could be called upon would be summoned in the struggle. No doubt there was an exhaustion of all energies, a straining of all faculties, an exercise of all powers. Only then, when seemingly all had been spent, would the forces of evil abandon their posts and retreat in horrible defeat. … The Great Deliverer has rescued us--saved the day, saved eternity. But, oh, what a battle! What wounds! What love! What cost!"
If that doesn't put it into perspective I don't know what will. And finally,
- HE DIDN'T HAVE TO BUT AT THE SAME TIME HE DID...
In one of my favorite chapters in the bible, John 10, the Savior said,
"17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."
Giving up His life was a literal choice that the Savior had to make. No could take His life, He had to willingly give it up. And so He did for us. And the Savior could have stopped it all at any time...in an instant His pain could be over, His suffering could end if He willed it to. He had all power to stop these cruel people from mocking Him. From spitting on Him. From putting Him on the cross. He was more powerful than all of them combined. He had the power to stop it all, if He wanted to...but He willingly went through it all for us. So that we could be freed.
Elder Lund said it this way,
"Imagine the Being whose power, whose light, whose glory holds the universe in order, the Being who speaks and solar systems, galaxies, and stars come into existence--standing before wicked men and being judged by them as being of no worth or value!
When we think of what he could have done to these men who took him to judgment, we have a new and different sense of his condescension. When Judas led the soldiers and the high priests to the Garden of Gethsemane and betrayed him with a kiss, Jesus could have spoken a single word and leveled the entire city of Jerusalem. When the servant of the high priest stepped forward and slapped his face, Jesus could have lifted a finger and sent that man back to his original elements. When another man stepped forward and spit in his face, Jesus had only to blink and our entire solar system could have been annihilated. But he stood there, he endured, he suffered, he condescended”
One thing we all need to understand is that Christ technically didnt have to put Himself through all of that. But at the same time He did so that we could come back to God again. Yet He did for our sakes. He willingly suffered and died for every person. Ever. Those who believe in Him. Those who follow Him. Those who don't even believe He is there or follow Him. Those who curse His name. Those who even hate Him. And even those who wanted Him killed. He suffered for all. And if you're reading this right now He suffered for you too. Just so that we could have a chance of repenting and changing in order to live with a God again. He suffered even for those who He knew wouldn't want to accept His sacrifice! I don't have worlds enough to explain my gratitude for Him and for His sacrifice so that I could repent. So that I could change so that I can live with God again. I love Him for it. I will do whatever He asks of me. Will you? Have you been touched by His atonement? In order for the Atonement to take full effect in our lives we must show Him we are willing to follow Him, only then will we be able to live with God again. I earnestly testify of his with all of my heart. I know that this is His gospel and that it is true. The Atonement is really and it works, if we let it.
Love you all! Until next week!
~Sister Amy Callaway~
Sister Deans Easter surprise yesterday!! And yeah that picture :)