Yesterday my son Sean had a baseball game. He is very athletic and has been a great asset to the teams on which he has played. And he absolutely loves the game. I often record him playing so he can watch himself later. It is especially fun to relive great moments in past games, when he has pitched a perfect inning or made a major league play. Last night, he had a good hit and several good plays at catcher.
Our team was winning for most of the game, but toward the end we made some errors that allowed the other team to tie the score. And the momentum was in their favor. Coach put Sean in to pitch mid-inning, so I pulled out my phone to record him. The stakes were high and I knew his pitching performance had the potential to change everything. But no pressure, right?! The other team had the winning run on third base. And in the end, Sean tried to throw out the runner, but the runner made it home, ending the game. It was one of those plays you just don’t want to remember.
So I went ahead and pushed the delete button.
On the way home from the game, I got into an argument with my daughter Jane. She is her brother’s biggest fan. And for years she has been his loudest advocate. At one of his basketball games, five or so years ago, she took the referee aside at half time, chiding “Keep a closer eye out there, my brother is getting hammered!” I love her loyalty and her intensity, but the truth is that I don’t enjoy the commentary, especially during a game that ends like this one did. And so we had some unkind words for each other in the car.
I went to bed last night feeling horrible … wishing I could push the delete button.
And I woke up this morning, filled with gratitude that I could. Because of Jesus Christ, I am able to ask forgiveness from my Heavenly Father and from my daughter, knowing I can have a fresh start.
This week I have spent a lot of time pondering the atonement of Jesus Christ. From the time that I was young, I wondered why Christ’s suffering had to be so horrific. It just did not make sense to me that such pain should be inflicted on any person, especially a perfect and sinless one. I even remember feeling angry that Heavenly Father would require such suffering because it hurt my heart so badly.
And I am not speaking of the cruelty of crucifixion alone, for we know that Christ’s sufferings were so much greater than the physical pain he endured. In the garden of Gethsemane, before he was brutalized by others, he began to suffer for our sins. Luke described that “in agony [Christ] prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” And we know that as he hung and suffered on the cross, those terrible emotional and spiritual feelings returned, and that ultimately Heavenly Father withdrew his presence and left the Savior completely alone.
His suffering is something I cannot begin to comprehend. And I have wondered why there was no other way. Why could God not just forgive our mistakes? Why did there have to be a penalty? God is all-powerful, right? Why then could he not just come up with some fluffy and loving way for us to be redeemed? Some easier way for us to press the delete button?
As I have grown older, I have come to see things differently, to see God differently. We read in the scriptures: “there is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world.” God is not the author of that law, nor is the law an agreed-upon set of rules. Rather, the law is woven into the fabric of the universe.
The laws that govern the universe are hierarchical. An earthly example of this is the law of gravity. Whether or not we agree upon that law, we will certainly fall toward the earth if we jump from a high building. The law of gravity is not the highest law. There is a law, senior to the law of gravity, known as the law of lift, which enables great aircraft to fly through the sky.
One of the highest laws that governs all aspects of the universe, is the law of cause and effect. In physics it is called Newton’s Third Law … the law of action and reaction. In philosophy it is called modus ponens. In horticulture, it is called the law of the harvest. In religion, it is called karma. In government, it is called justice.
There is no action that does not have a result. And we, who are agents to think, feel and act, are continuously influencing the energy of the universe. There is nothing that we do in public or in private, that will not come back to us. Alma taught: “That which ye do send out shall return unto you again.” The energy created by our actions attracts back to us like a powerful magnet.
Like seeds in the ground, the universe will always give us what we have planted. We never get turnips when we plant an oak tree; we never get violin proficiency when we plant video game seeds; we never get happiness when we plant wickedness. We must reap the appropriate effect of our every though, our every intent and our every action. Universal law requires it.
There was only one way we could have both agency and salvation, and that was through an infinite and eternal sacrifice, through the atonement of a God on our behalf. And that is what Jesus did. In one great and last sacrifice, he attracted and suffered for all of the negative energy – past, present and future. The universe demands that what is sown, must be reaped. And the Savior reaped it for us all.
I stand all amazed at what he did for me! As I live and learn and grow, I get to keep the fruit of all my best efforts. And I am able to push the delete button when my best efforts fail. On this day when we celebrate the atonement and resurrection of the Savior, I want to express my love for him. All I have and all I am is BECAUSE OF HIM!