Recently our elementary school held a science fair and guess who got roped into running the thing? Yes, me. Now don’t feel too sorry for me. I’ve been in charge for a few years now and I just love it. But it is a big undertaking and no matter how much I plan, there are always a few snags. This year things were particularly hectic rendering me less confident than usual. Thus I was especially aware of the acts of kindness and service that seemingly came out of nowhere–people who observed the situation and then quietly found a way to help.
There was Heather, who noticed my cranky four-year old and brought him a special sack lunch, making his whole day. There were Kristy and Crystal and Cherene who, without being asked, stayed to organize projects and posters in the lunchroom. There was Becky, a teacher who gave my kids something to do in her classroom after school, making them feel important and keeping them out of my hair. There were countless others who showed up with smiling faces, making the science fair a positive experience for everyone. And then there was Kelli who brought a large, delicious dinner for my family at home.
When it was all over, I took a moment to relax and snuggle my neglected kiddos and reflected on the encouragement, assistance and strength I had received from others that day. I said a silent prayer of gratitude and a scripture came into my mind. “I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17) I knew that I was not the only one who appreciated these dear friends. The Savior also received their service, felt of their good desires, and HE was made glad.
As Easter approaches, my heart overflows with gratitude and love for the Savior. I think of what he did for for me, for humanity, and my soul hungers to serve him. Because of his perfect life, his selfless atoning sacrifice and his glorious resurrection, my life has meaning. I am mindful that the atonement–infinite in scope and eternal in consequence–is impossible to fully comprehend. But I would like to share bits and pieces of insights I’ve had recently.
When I was younger, I imagined that Christ atoned in some collective way for humanity, that he suffered for all liars, all cheaters, all adulterers–at the extremity of all possible sins. As I have experienced more, I have come to know that the atonement was not a collective act. With God all things are possible. Somehow, the Savior performed the atonement for us individually, not at the collective extremity, but at the intimate height and depth of our singular experience. Christ took your name through the temple of Gethsemane, so to speak. And then he took mine. And so on for each of our fellow travelers here on earth. One by one.
The atonement was an all-encompassing act, wherein the Savior willingly suffered the excruciating consequences of my every sin. But beyond that, he experienced my life, my joys, my sorrows, and came to intimately understand my heart. I wonder if the Savior could have redeemed me by taking upon himself my sins alone. But Christ chose to do more. He chose to understand me completely so that he could succor me–provide comfort, compassion and help along my way. Alma taught, “He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind. . . And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:12)
In taking upon himself my sins and afflictions, Christ also experienced the assistance and love that others would offer me. He received the service of my leaders and loved ones, even that of compassionate strangers. I believe their kind acts buoyed up the Savior as he suffered for me. We read the Savior’s words in Matthew:
Some might consider these words to be metaphorical. But I believe they are also literal. The Savior actually received the service we render one to another as he suffered in the garden and on the cross. Our kindnesses brought him a measure of relief.
There is other scriptural evidence to indicate that we comforted Christ in his most difficult hour, perhaps even strengthening him through the exquisite pain that caused him to bleed from every pore. Consider the words of Isaiah: “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed… He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.” (Isaiah 53:10-11) The prophet Abinadi elaborated: “And who shall be his seed? Behold I say unto you, that whoever has heard the words of the prophets yea… those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.” (Mosiah 15:11)
During the atonement Christ clearly saw the result of his brutal suffering. He saw that many would repent, accept his grace and progress over time. He saw those who, although imperfect, would nevertheless develop predominant desires for good. He saw through his sacrifice, many would receive eternal life. His sufferings were unspeakable, and yet his soul was satisfied because of what he saw. I believe he took comfort and reassurance in you.
At this Easter season, as we commemorate the great gift of Christ’s atonement, let us remember that we were there with him in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross of Calvary. We were with him as he suffered for us individually and we can be with him further as we serve our fellow man. Thomas S. Monson said, “The world is in need of your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save.” Let us redouble our efforts to find those who are weary. Let our acts of kindness be evidence of our gratitude and devotion to the Savior for when we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are truly in the service of our Lord.