The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

When Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke at General Conference in October, 1997, he had recently survived a bout with leukemia that nearly killed him.  He spoke of how the Atonement of Christ and following His magnificent example can carry us over the difficult passages on our life’s journeys.

. . . our experiences surely do not approach those of Jesus, yet the same principles and processes apply. His perfected attributes exemplify what can be much further developed by each of us. There is certainly no shortage of relevant clinical experiences, is there? Strange as it seems, we sometimes respond better to larger challenges than to the incessant small ones. For example, impatience with a spouse may occur while a more public challenge is managed quite well. One can be sincerely grateful for his major blessings but regularly murmur over minor irritations. One can have humility that is hierarchical: being humble up, but not humble down. Enduring large tests while failing the seemingly small quizzes just won’t do. Such shortcomings must be addressed if we are really serious about becoming more like Jesus.

While so striving daily, we will fall short. Hence the avoidance of discouragement is so vital. So where is the oft and much needed resilience to be found? Once again, in the glorious Atonement! Thereby we can know the lifting tide flowing from forgiveness.

Furthermore, by applying the Atonement we can continue to access the other nurturing gifts of the Holy Ghost, each with its own rich resilience. The Holy Ghost will often preach sermons to us from the pulpit of memory. He will comfort us and reassure us. The burdens not lifted from us, He will help us to bear, thus enabling, even after we err, to continue with joy the soul-stretching journey of discipleship. After all, while the adversary clearly desires our lasting misery, the Father and the Son truly and constantly desire our everlasting happiness (see 2 Ne. 2:27).

Brothers and sisters, Christ paid such an enormous, enabling price for us! Will we not apply His Atonement in order to pay the much smaller price required for personal progress? (see Mosiah 4:2). Being valiant in our testimony of Jesus, therefore, includes being valiant in our efforts to live more as He lived (see D&C 76:79). We certainly cannot enter His kingdom without receiving the restored ordinances and keeping their associated covenants, but neither can we enter His kingdom without having significantly developed our charity and the other cardinal attributes (see Ether 12:34). Yes, we need the essential ordinances, but we also need the essential attributes. Yes, we need to keep our covenants, but we also need to develop our character. Do we not sing, “More holiness give me,” pleading that we can be “more, Savior, like thee”? (Hymns, no. 131).

During this special process, how can you and I better insure that the precious blessings given by God are fully received by us? For my part, I desire that my blessings, including the recent “delay en route,” bring about my needed and greater spiritual refinement in addition to my grateful acknowledgment. Yes, you and I should count our blessings, but we should also make them count! Furthermore, since the focus in extremity falls on the things of eternity, such should be our focus in whatever remains of mortal brevity.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 22

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