Monday, September 1, 2008

Homework from Church

I didn't go to Church yesterday. We had some unexpected company drop by and decided to stay home and visit with them. My mom and her brother are both well into their 80s and not in the greatest of health so this seemed like a worthwhile and important thing to do. Afterward, my Visiting Teacher dropped by all worried because I wasn't there and to give me a copy of the "homework assignment." Yesterday was the 5th Sunday of the month. In my Ward, on 5th Sundays the Relief Society and Melchizedek Preisthood Quorums meet together and usually have a message from the Bishop.

He asked us to begin a personal study on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is the second time that I remember hearing this counsel from Bishop Lewis. And this time it is stronger and more formal which I find notable. I've been studying since he gave this same assignment early this year. I will certainly up my efforts now.

Specifically, he asked us to prepare a written study plan by September 7 and to track our progress and complete the plan by December 25, 2008.
  • Use the index from the Book of Mormon under the various headings for "Jesus Christ" (especially "Jesus Christ -- Atonement of").
  • Read or listen to General Conference talks about the atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • Consider re-reading the Book of Mormon by December 25 focusing on the passages of scripture relating to the Savior and His Atonement.
  • Share your study plan with a spouse, family member or friend and let them know your progress (consider sharing what you have learned and how your feelings for the Savior have been affected).
  • Consider developing an action plan to go along with your study plan -- seeking inspiration for things you feel the Lord would have you personally undertake because of your increased faith in Christ and His Atonement.
  • Keep a notebook with entries of things you learn.

I pulled out my notes from my previous, though less focused, study and boy do they seem disorganized. Some of the thoughts are profound and I want to keep exploring them, but I don't know how to fit them into this new plan the Bishop has put forward. As I was laying on the bed pondering all of these things, I started thinking about the ways the Atonement applies to my life in a personal and intimate way. And I was surprised at some of the things I could come up with.

Recently I've been struggling with some fears of being hurt. I've fallen completely in love with some of the neighbor kids and as their dad's divorce is finally nearing a conclusion he's starting to think of his future. One night I was completely overcome by the thought that he will get married, move away and I will never get to see those kids again. That will leave a gaping wound in my heart and I wasn't sure I could bear that kind of a hurt. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and praying about it and I finally felt a comforting touch in my soul. Maybe almost a confidence that whatever happens I will be okay and able to move forward richer for the experience of having loved this deeply. Last night I realized that the swallowing up of this pain and fear is an application of the Atonement in my life... real and tangible and meaningful and personal. My own little miracle. I am so thankful for this manifestation of God's love and awareness of me.

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