I am weak. Very often I feel unprepared for the challenges life throws at me. Sometimes I even feel like giving up.
I am so grateful I have a Savior that is strong. I am so glad that He is never surprised by the circumstances in life. I am thankful He never gives up on me and is always willing to lend me His strength!
When I was a child and teachers would talk about the atonement, I would picture Christ suffering for all the murders that would ever happen. Then He would suffer for all the lies that were ever told. Then He would suffer for every time that something had ever been stolen. I remember the first time I listened to an audio talk by Dr. John Lund titled “The Myth We Call Perfection.” In it he proposed that rather than Christ suffering for lump sums of sin, He actually may have taken my life through Gethsemane, experienced all my weaknesses, sicknesses and sorrows, experienced every wrong choice I would make and every foolish temptation I would give into. It was not only an infinite atonement, but also an intimate atonement. An atonement like that would allow Christ to know every little bit of me and so know exactly how to strengthen me.
I was so grateful when I heard a conference talk called “A Pattern for All” by Elder Merrill J. Bateman in which he made this statement which seems to support the idea of an atonement like Dr. Lund suggested,
“For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15), “[bore] our griefs, … carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:4–5).
The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us…If Moses beheld every soul, then it seems reasonable that the Creator of the universe has the power to become intimately acquainted with each of us. He learned about your weaknesses and mine. He experienced your pains and sufferings. He experienced mine. I testify that He knows us. He understands the way in which we deal with temptations. He knows our weaknesses. But more than that, more than just knowing us, He knows how to help us if we come to Him in faith.”Elder Merrill J. Bateman
Because of His atonement, Christ’s strength can be found when we seek Him. One of my favorite phrases is, “Time spent with God is never wasted.” It reminds me that a relationship with God must be developed through time spent with Him. And that time must be initiated by me. I seek the Lord through intentional actions, through effort. And as President Nelson has taught us, “The Lord loves effort.”
Some of the ways that we seek the Lord are fairly obvious. We pray. We read our scriptures. We go to church. But there is a deeper level of doing these things that goes beyond just going through the motions and that’s where the intentional seeking kicks in.
I learned something about praying this year as I took part in a 30-day prayer challenge. I came to realize that what the Lord has in mind when asking us over and over to pray to Him isn’t for us to check it off a list and feel good about our day. He wants us to counsel with Him. “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good…” Alma 37:37 There is a difference between praying and counseling/communing. It has a different feeling. It brings a different result to our hearts and to our lives. And though He loves when we talk to Him as we go about our days, there is something sacred about the time we choose to still our hands and feet to just sit with Him.
Just like there is a difference between praying and communing, there is a difference between reading the scriptures and feasting on them. When we feast on the scriptures, we search their pages to fill our deepest needs. One of the most effective ways I have found for feasting on God’s word is to enter my study with a question. How does this apply to my life? How would I phrase this in my own words? What principle is being taught here? How could I teach this to my children? I find that when I ask myself questions as I read, my reading becomes active reading and I get more out of my time as well as being excited about the truths I am gleaning.
Intentional Church Attendance
Attending Church is another area where it is easy to get passive. We can find ourselves going out of habit or tradition rather than to actively seek the Lord. One of the ways I can seek Him in my church attendance is by being more purposeful in my taking of the sacrament. When I do my best to connect with my Savior during that time it becomes holy. I have been amazed how many very clear answers and directions I have gotten during that sacred time.
Another way I have found more strength from the Lord during church attendance is by going with a prayer in my heart that I will find the one most important thing the Lord wants me to apply to my life immediately. As I look for further knowledge and personal commandments, I feel so much closer to the Lord. Finally, I love to use time at church to look for ways to be the Lord’s hands and heart. I look for young mothers who need my help or women who seem lonely that I can sit by. I try to pay attention to promptings to share thoughts and lessons that might help others who are struggling. When I was a young mother going to church by myself with my two children, I found so much strength by acknowledging my need for help and willingly accepting it or asking for it. I love that Christ organized His church as a place where people could both give and receive and both parties are abundantly blessed through the exchange.
Intentional Daily Living
There are many other things we can do to seek the Lord’s strength in our lives. We can be mindful of how we are obeying His commandments and keeping our covenants with Him. We can weigh our decisions with care to be sure we are choosing the better and best media and activities. We can watch for ways to serve those around us one by one as we see a need and fill it, especially in our family settings. And we can choose love and patience over judgment and offense.
Life is hard and without Christ it can completely overwhelm us. The Savior’s strength is readily available to lift and support us if we will seek it. He wants to share His strength with us. What is one way you can seek His strength this week?
The Primary Manual for Come Follow Me is perfect for families with young children!
October Week 1 Lesson: September 26–October 2. Isaiah 50–57: “He Hath Borne Our Griefs, and Carried Our Sorrows” (churchofjesuschrist.org)
Click below to download these coloring pages from Rising Moon Adventures that I created to go with this lesson:
Primary Insights for Come Follow Me videos –
(46) Rising Moon Adventures Scripture Story Time – YouTube
Song 1: First by Lauren Daigle
Song 2: Truth Be Told by Matthew West