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Used by permission of Liz Lemon Swindle. Painting available through Repartee Gallery.

Picture Yourself In That Day

really could not believe it as I stood there. Death had always been connected with pain and sorrow. I felt no pain and I was keenly at ease. There was a peace and softness in the air, so unlike the world that I had just come from. No words were spoken. For some reason, communication was not with language as we know it. Communication was more of a mutual feeling of understanding. Truth was clear, and not up for debate.

A celestial being motioned to me to walk by his side and so I did. The silent whisperings entered my thoughts; "come... let us review your life." I accompanied him down the endless corridor of my life.

The joys and memories of millenniums past were restored unto me. The veil was withdrawn. I saw my Elder Brother in our first estate, presenting the great "Plan of Happiness" in the pre-earth life. I recalled rejoicing with so many other spirits for the opportunities to receive a body and to continue our progression on through eternity. As a spirit child, I remember thinking, "At last, I can prove my love to my heavenly parents!"

Another door in the long hallway opened and revealed my departure from the pre-existent state. It was very difficult to leave my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. My Father blessed me. Heavenly Mother hugged me, and kissed me. They both in a good-bye embrace, committed me to a promise. "Son, help bring your brothers and sisters back to us."

Continuing down the alley another door opened revealing the history of my second estate on earth. Year by year through mortality, I observed my gradual growth and progression. It was "line upon line, precept upon precept."

I observed loving mortal parents who unceasingly tried to nurture, protect, and guide me. I rediscovered brothers and sister who wanted nothing but the best for me. I relived friendships that stood beside me in hard and troubling times while on the earth. I was once again reminded of spiritual teachers who taught me right from wrong.

There were many opportunities for me to use my freedom of choice. Some decisions caused me harm, and others led me to happy moments. I saw all the struggles of my life and was humbled to learn that upon review, there were many unknown prayers and efforts all for my benefit.

I felt disappointed at those moments that I had judged unfairly or without complete information. I noticed that I was most happy when I followed the path the Savior had previously mapped out, before my time on earth.

I was so surprised at the spiritual assistance, prayers, and endeavors that were occurring for me from the other side of the veil. I never knew nor realized the miraculous acts that were hidden from my mortal eyes. The battles fought for me while on earth to protect and preserve my royal birthright were now revealed and truly appreciated. Humbled even more with this new revelation, I moved further down the corridor.

I noticed when entering the years of greater accountability, my actions took upon themselves more serious consequences. There were specific events that were necessary and pivotal to my progression. They both changed and affected my character and future. From the reviewed vision of my life, I learned that many earthly events were allowed for my own growth and understanding.

There were recalled scenes, as I walked with my heavenly escort, where I felt embarrassed. I did not want him to see the misguided follies of my youth. However, there were other moments that I felt a sense of pride as I had chosen the right and did much good. Most of those involved serving others.

Traveling down the pathway of memories I foresaw hurtful events to come that I did not want my heavenly escort to witness. I was so ashamed that I buried my face in my hands.

Suddenly, the spirit of peace that emanated from my angelic host was no longer calm or at ease. I sensed a struggle, distress, emotional pain, and even agony. My head hung lower and I tilted my face to glance through slightly opened fingers. My eyes beheld this perfect being clenched over, grasping his side. The suffering seemed so intense, that he gasped for air. What could have caused him such pain?

With what appeared extreme exhaustion, he stood bent over groaning in a spirit of mourning. It was as if he was carrying the weight of the world upon his shoulders. I watched in astonishment. I felt helpless; there was nothing I could do to relieve his pain. In horror I closed my eyes, but could still hear the resonating sound of the scourging whip, and then later the blunt thump of the mallet against the nails. Quietly peering through my hands once more, I wanted to believe this was not happening.

Still hunched over, beads of blood like sweat emerged from his forehead and arms. He tilted his head towards me and stared lovingly with tear-filled bloodshot eyes.

The impact of his countenance penetrated into the very core of my soul. His anguish and wrestle for my freedom was so far beyond my comprehension that I was overcome. The impression of his battle for my soul, would surely dwell with me forever and beyond. I knew with certainty that he carried my cross, a cross that was far too heavy for me to bear.

We slowly proceeded forward and all I could think about was his reaction to my sins. I wept as we walked on. I had witnessed first hand the suffering of my Savior for me. In my heart I thought that I had failed him. I could no longer look onward at the charitable service that I had rendered to others on earth; it all seemed so small and of little significance. How could I ever repay this selfless service for me?

We quietly approached the end of the corridor. My eyes were still dripping with tears when he stopped and turned towards me. I could not look him in the eye. In gratitude I fell to his feet and then received a sure witness of the scars from the piercings that unjustly punctured the flesh on his feet near the ankles. I knew without a doubt, that his unconditional love was not only universal, but personal, individual, and for me.

Suddenly, for some reason, the turbulence and grief that permeated the air had passed. Sorrow had fled and was replaced with a warmth and joy. His face no longer reflected sadness, but perfect love and serenity. It was as if he had forgotten my mistakes and what we both had just witnessed and experienced. Still in tears, I could not rise. It was not fair, it was not just. He suffered for one so unworthy as I. I wept as I comprehended how much he really loved me.

He squatted down beside me and put his hands under my chin shifting my eyes towards his. I will never be able to explain his glowing countenance. As he administered to my soul, I beheld forgiveness, mercy, charity, compassion, and pure love in their most holy forms. He lifted me up and healed my wounded soul. With a sacred embrace, he softly spoke these words of comfort; "Rejoice my son, for in this moment my heart is full, and my joy complete."

Writer's Comments

To know the significance of the Atonement is to understand God's work and glory. To feel the personal impact of the Atonement is to witness and experience the pure love of Jesus Christ. What is truly amazing is that if we had the opportunity today to ask the Savior if his pain and suffering was worth it, he would say, "Yes!" If we were to ask him,"Would you do it again?" Without hesitation, he would respond, "Yes!" If each of us could feel the power of his sacrifice and make it real in our lives, how much easier it would be to love, follow, and obey him.

The price paid for our eternal birthright and inheritance was the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The cost in pain felt by God and the heavenly hosts was immense. It shook the heavens and earth. Heavenly Father's love for us is manifested in that He sacrificed His Beloved Son for our exaltation.


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