5 comments Monday, April 13, 2009

I feel overwhelmed whenever I am asked to speak about my savior, and those intense feelings increase when I am asked to speak on the Atonement, the single most unselfish and beautiful thing in the history of the world.

We, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, have just finished the spring session of general conference, and in this session we heard some amazing talks on the atonement and on our Savior.
The messages were clear. Let the atonement work in your life.
Reach out to the Lord, for he loves us.

I know he loves me, and I can see this love vividly in his creations. It is evident to me every time I step into the Big Lost River with my fly rod in hand. It never ceases to amaze me how calming and timeless the sound of running water is to my soul. Before I cast my line I stand still and listen, sometimes for many minutes, to the message that the rustling river sends to me.
And when I have soaked up the brilliance of the moment, I unhook my fly from my cork handle and begin to cast.

I am casting to catch fish of course, and when the line finally lands on the water, and my wet fly sinks into the turbid flow, I anticipate a large trout swimming full speed to intercept the offering. I foresee the moment the fish hits and I set the hook.

Fly fishing is mysterious at best. It is a moment cut out of a dream.

Some days you bring so many fish into the net that you don’t take time to enjoy them individually. Some days you doubt yourself because you don’t catch any at all and you wonder why you even bothered. But some days you catch only 1 fish. How can a 1 fish day prove so incredibly pleasing? After all isn’t the goal of fly fishing to fool as many fish as possible in the time you are given?

On those rare one fish days, you are constantly fighting to catch a fish. You must choose the correct fly, present your fly as correctly as you can, and cast, cast, and cast again. There comes a time when giving up seems like the only option….And then it happens.
A single fish devours your fly. You feel his weight pass through your fly rod and into your arms. Your adrenaline flows freely.
Multiple times he breaks the surface and shakes his red and silvery head at you, in a showing of splendor, and an attempt to throw the hook.
His strength is unmatched and the wild in him untamed.
And then all at once it is over, and you have him in your hand.
What a treasure! You worked all day to catch him.
Time is taken to inspect every inch of his glistening body. You admire his incredible coloring and his small black spots. His eyes are big and bright. In your bare hands you feel his strength and his determination to live. Upon closer inspection you even notice a small wound on his tail and on his head below his eye. You wonder how he received these wounds but you are indifferent to them. He is beautiful. Time is taken to verbally thank him for making your day and for giving you this delicious life experience before you loosen your grip and release him back into his world.
That “one” fish quickly becomes the reason you came fishing today. There were no others to compare.

And so it is with our Savior, who stands in the waters of life and casts to each one of us.
***I believe that if we could truly understand the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would realize how precious is “ONE” son or daughter of God. At the heart of the English word atonement is the word one. If all mankind understood this, there would never be anyone with whom we would not be concerned, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or social or economic standing. We would strive to emulate the Savior and would never be unkind, indifferent, disrespectful, or insensitive to others.

I am one person, an individual with interests, talents, weaknesses, beliefs and hopes. Sometimes it is hard for me to think the Savior knows me on a personal level. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe he felt my personal pain and my agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In my youth I suffered with a deep and unrelenting depression and oft times wondered if I could possibly be the only one in the world feeling the way I did. Many times the pain was so intimate and foreboding that it was a chore to merely wake up in the morning. The savior experienced my dark depression firsthand. I know he did. In a way that I will never understand, he felt, to my horror, my awful state.
He cried with me, he distressed with me, and he despaired with me. If my depression alone nearly crippled me, I now understand why Jesus Christ’s body bled from every pore when he suffered for humanity. I also understand how He can succor me and comfort me perfectly and completely.

***The Savior endured the agony of inquisition, cruel beatings, and death by crucifixion on the cross at Calvary. Recently, there has been a great deal of commentary about this, none of which has made clear the singular point that no one had the power to take the Savior’s life from Him. He gave it as a ransom for us all. As the Son of God, He had the power to alter the situation. Yet the scriptures clearly state that He yielded Himself to scourging, humiliation, suffering, and finally crucifixion because of His great love towards the children of men.

We cannot take His sacrifice lightly, and we must not let the Atonement intimidate us. Jesus Christ loves us individually. ***Without His dear, dear sacrifice, there would be no way home, no way to be together, no way to be like Him. He gave us all He had. Therefore, “how great is his joy,” when even “ONE” of us “gets it”—when we look up from the murky waters and allow his strong hands to cradle us, and his compassionate heart to heal us from our bumps and bruises.

He does love us, even in our imperfect, carnal state. We all have moments of weakness and we will all sin and fall short, ***but if we have problems in our lives, we should not assume there is something wrong with us. Struggling with these problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, and stronger. If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away.

Perhaps you are approaching the Saviors net and are frightened. Be not afraid, You are his ONE fish, you are his joy and his happiness. He has taken time to admire you, He feels your strength and your determination to live, and to return to your father in heaven with honor.

As I stand in the small rolling waters of the Big Lost River, and clumsily throw my fly to hungry trout I imagine my Savior standing in a much larger, much more treacherous river, casting to his hungry brothers and sisters, only his skill is perfected and his time to fish is unrestricted. I can only marvel at his cast and his presentation, so flawless and honed. If his first retrieval is unsuccessful, he does not fear, doubt, or question his presence on the stream. He stands tall and unmovable, with faith and hope, and continues to cast until I ingest his offering. And when the hook is set and I give myself to him, and he intercepts me into his strong hands and admires my colors and my many small wounds, He will whisper to me “Boone, you are worth everything I have done” and Because he loves me so intensely, I am worth his suffering and death.

I pray, on this day, that he knows I am thankful for his sacrifice. I pray that I can take advantage of his atonement in my life, and use it as a bridge to return to my father in Heaven with my family and those I love.

***NOTE - Portions of this Blog with *** in front of it were taken from LDS General Authorities talks on the Atonement.