Monday, April 18, 2011

On knowing and believing

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently.

She is a convert to the church and she has had some remarkable experiences which have taught her that God loves her, and that He has intervened in her life. She will tell you that she knows that Jesus suffered for her sins and by His atoning sacrifice she has already been greatly blessed.

And yet sometimes she feels weak and inadequate. Sometimes she feels unworthy of His love. She feels, sometimes, that she is not worth rescuing.

As I listened to her, I thought of my own experience. I joined the church with my parents when I was about nine, so I effectively grew up in the church. I have never doubted that God lives. I have never questioned that Savior suffered and died for me. I have repeatedly felt the witness of the Holy Ghost testifying of the truthfulness of the plan of salvation as it has been taught to me and as I have taught it to others.

And yet when it came time for me to call upon the atonement in a very real way, I did not reach for it.

I knew it was true, but I did not really believe it was true for me.

Of course at the time, I did not understand that’s what I was doing. By clinging to what I “knew”, I was looking through a glass darkly, seeing the shape of the atonement without allowing it to lift and comfort me as I had watched it do for others. I knew the facts of the atonement, but I did not believe it (enough).

Often our discussion is on the progression from belief to knowledge. For me, in this instance it’s moving from knowledge to belief – or perhaps better said, faith. Specifically developing the faith that the atonement – which I had seen work for others – could also work for me.

Fortunately on most days I have crossed that bridge. And on many days so has my friend. And I’ve recognized and enjoyed those blessings of the atonement in my life. But it is, I suspect, a challenging bridge for most of us to cross, precisely when we need to cross it.


  1. Are you on facebook? I would like to invite you to a "Bloggernacle Friends" group.

  2. I first intellectually learned about this concept when I read Believing Christ. It has taken years for me to practice it though. I still sometimes have negative self talk like, "Oh, so He is going to forgive me yet again?! After the incredible amount of times that I have recommitted and failed??!!"

    Yet when I move to belief. When I trust in Him and move my feet to work on the good task at hand. His Love fills me.

  3. Rich, I've never read the book you cite, though I've heard of it. Hadn't considered it when I wrote the post.

    My own experience is that many folks struggle to trust the Lord's promises in their own lives, even if they get them in priciple. It is a choice experience to watch someone's face when that person realizes the yes, the atonement is for him, too.