I've been thinking about the atonement and Christ a lot lately. I actually think about that often, but perhaps now I'm applying the thoughts to myself, and really thinking about what it all means to me.
When I read the accounts of the atonement in the New Testament, I see an interesting pattern.
And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matt. 26:37-39)
Jesus knew the importance of what was about to happen--and he took two friends to be with him. Christ, the Greatest of us all, didn't want to be alone. He was sorrowful--even unto death. I've felt that. I've felt sadness and grief so great that I wanted to leave this life to escape it. Christ felt that in anticipation of what he was about to experience. He fell on his face and asked God to take it away from him. In Mark it's stated even more eloquently:
And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
It seems that in his description of the Father, the Omnipotent, that there is a hint that Elohim could make it possible for Christ to escape the atonement and leaves all sorts of speculation floating around my brain. But the truth is, in the end of all his pleading, Christ bowed to God's will. Twice he asked his Father to allow him to avoid what would be the most astounding, painful, and eternal act in the history of mankind. But when it came to the point of choice, Christ did what he promised each of us that he would do. According to Luke, a loving Father sent angels to strengthen and comfort his son as he bled from every pore and did for me what I cannot do for myself.
There have been times in my life when I've fallen on my face and begged the Lord to take away the task, trial, or challenge before me. There have been times when I've asked repeatedly to not have to endure what I am asked to endure. I cannot deny that as I've gone forward, bowing to the Lord's will for me, that there have been angels sent to strengthen me--most have been in mortal form.
I'm eternally grateful that the atonement allows me to repent and that it adds the necessary grace to allow me to grow and progress. I'm grateful for the resurrection that allows me to continue after my death. I'm grateful for the healing and empathy I feel when I appeal to Christ for help when I have come to the end of my strength. But I don't believe that's what that amazing sacrifice was all about. It's all part of it for sure. But in the end, what it boils down to for me, is this: Christ didn't want to do it. No one would. He was afraid. He didn't endure the enormous pain and suffering because of duty or courage (although they certainly played into it). He finished the atonement because he loves me and every other of my brothers and sisters and he wants us to be with him someday. This was the only way--if there had been another, it would have happened, because Christ pled with the Father to make another way.
I can never feel what Christ felt in that atonement and live--and I don't want to. But I can feel his love for me and for others in a way I cannot describe. I know he loves me. I know he loves you. I don't believe there is anything stronger that could have motivated him to endure what he did. And in the end, I think he wanted to--because he understood that by feeling our pain, sins, weaknesses and other imperfections, he could help strengthen us and love us in a way that no other being can.
I'm learning how to accept his love for me. Slowly, surely...it is going to happen. I have felt palpably the depth of his love for others. Surely he paid the price for me, as well, and I am his. I will always belong to Christ. I cannot express my gratitude. I understand that I am insignificant--but he loves me--and with his love, someday, I can be as the pansy that blooms in the snow--too focused on Christ to realize that I'm an annual and not supposed to bloom this year. Someday it will happen. Someday I will do this.