And What Is It We Should Hope For?

Somewhere, tonight, a young woman sits cowering in a corner. She has just been raped and the man who did it told her not to tell anyone, ever. She feels guilty and confused, afraid and deceived, hopeless and dirty. Thoughts run through her head like hyenas, and she looks around listlessly, longing for someone into whose arms she can run–someone she can trust innately.


Somewhere else tonight, an old woman knits in a rocking chair. Her children have long since moved far away. Caught up in dreams of success and fame, they have forgotten about the woman who rocks back and forth, back and forth, tracing an endless loop with her knitting needles–hoping against hope that today will be the day: surely someone will call, visit, or care.

In a prison cell sits a convicted felon, finishing the last years of his sentence. He wrings his calloused hands and forlornly watches the walls, awaiting his freedom. Beyond that, however, he searches his heart for forgiveness, for light, for a lifting of his hidden burden. His life is like a sour chord–the second-to-last in a chorale work–which has never found its long-awaited resolution. His sins hover in the air about him, unforgiven and unresolved.

And on a freeway, bathed in the undulating red light of an ambulance, a young mother kneels, holding her daugher’s limp and lifeless form in her arms–the mother has gone beyond weeping, she heaves without motion and almost without sound–wishing her grief could be as clean as crying, she feels like someone has sucked out her soul.

More than likely, all of these situations are occurring as I type these words.

And that is why the Gospel, the Atonement, and the Restoration are paramount in the world: “Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the Earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.”

I fear many Mormons accept an anemic Gospel. We ingest our daily diet of rote prayers, cute homes, and mundane meetings and fail to probe, to ponder, to attempt to grasp and understand the message at the core of the faith we profess. We fail to see the transformative power of the Atonement–a power which resolves the insoluble, forgives the unpardonable, and brings peace to the disconsolate.

Because we fail to grasp what we have, and because we fail to recognize the plight of the world’s suffering, we keep our message to ourselves–not so much out of fear but out of ignorance and apathy–at least I know I have not spread the message as I should have. But in those rare moments when it all coalesces into focus, when I see things, even for a fleeting moment, as they “really are,” I long to run from house to house sharing the miracle of the Atonement and the Restoration.

“Christ has paid the enormous enabling price for us!” I want to shout–“come, find solace, find peace, find forgiveness, find comfort, find love. Come, come know God speaks to man, come know His Prophet.”

The Gospel, of course, does not offer easy answers. Why should it? The price Christ paid was not easy and the answers he offers are not easy either. But they are simple, they are free, and they are real. The Atonement changes nature, it changes not just thoughts, feelings, actions, and words, but identity–in some core, eternal, fundamental way.

To the ravished, the alone, the sinner, and the bereaved, Christ offers wholeness, company, pardon, and joy. Let us overcome our fears and our apathy–I, for one, anyway, can do a better job of letting those aroud me know the cause of the hope that is within me, for it is the Bright and Morning Star.

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Published in: on August 1, 2006 at 5:57 am  Leave a Comment  

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