If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know that once a year I participate in the LDS Writer Blogfest with my fellow LDS writer-bloggers. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we share a few thoughts about our faith and how it impacts our lives and our writing.
But I must admit, this year, I was feeling a little
uninspired. Last year, I blogged about my favorite General Conference talk, but
this year, none of the talks really stood out to me. Then I read this article
from David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality.” He
tackled a topic I felt I knew very little about--grace--and the light bulb
Since this blog is all about light-bulb moments, I thought I’d
share what I learned.
Latter-day Saints, also called Mormons, are often disparaged
in the wider Christian community for discounting the importance of grace. We
place too much emphasis on works, critics say, and while it’s true that we think
people need to receive certain ordinances, such as baptism, to make it back to
heaven, we also firmly believe that “there shall be no other name given nor any
other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only
in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17). That
said, I don’t think Latter-day Saints in general--and I in particular--truly appreciate
just how vital grace is not only in putting off bad but in becoming good.
David A. Bednar put it this way: “It is one thing to know
that Jesus Christ came to earth to die
for us--that is fundamental and foundational to the doctrine of Christ. But we
also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the
power of the Holy Ghost, to live in
us--not only to direct us but also to empower us.”
That’s what grace is: the Savior’s empowering force for good
in our lives. And He wants to empower us every step of the way. I guess I
always kind of thought of it in very set, concrete terms. If the gap
between me and heaven was this big and I could make it this far on my own (by
taking my neighbors this many casseroles, or whatever), then the grace of Jesus
Christ was the bridge that got me the rest of the way. But according to David
A. Bednar, grace is less of a bridge and more of a guardrail. It’s something to
lean on when the going gets tough, something to push me forward when my fear or human frailty make me want to turn back. And it’s right there beside me at all
times, in all places.
That was the light-bulb moment I had a few days ago. I only
wish I’d figured this out a lot sooner.
If you’d like more information about the Church, feel free
to check out lds.org, which is where I found the online version of the wonderful
article I mentioned, or mormon.org, which has a lot of more general
information. Also, don’t miss the other posts in the LDS Writer Blogfest:
Julie Coulter Bellon
Finally, if you have any questions that you think I might be
able to answer, feel free to leave them in the comments below or e-mail them to
me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com. If I don’t know the answer--and there’s a
pretty good chance that I won’t--I’ll do some research and try to figure it out.