The Chains of Sin
By James L. Ferrell
An excerpt from The Peacegiver, published by Deseret Book.
A New Day
Rick squinted as sunlight poured in through the window.
The storm had passed, finally. Carol was already out of bed and probably on her morning walk. He looked past where she normally would have been to the clock on her nightstand. It was 7:50 a.m. He panicked for a moment until he remembered it was Saturday.
Shedding the comforter, he rested under the sheet and gazed at the ceiling.
Yesterday felt like a long time ago. So much had happened overnight that Rick was struggling to fit it all together. And did he ever have a lot to fit together! He remembered his friend’s advice about waking impressions and hopped out of bed to find some paper. Having found some in his nightstand, he reclined on the bed and started to sift through what he had seen.
The stories of Abigail and Jonah swam in his mind. He could sense that their messages were connected, but he struggled to piece them together. He looked for the logic.
He thought about mercy and justice, about feeling grateful or entitled. He relived the scene on the road to Carmel and remembered Jonah on the boat and under the canopy of sticks. Abigail was a type of Christ, he recalled. He remembered his grandfather saying that her story illuminates the Lord’s atonement from a different angle than we normally think about. But what angle was that? He strained to remember. Oh yes, that the Lord has paid in full for others’ sins, that was the point-that it may be helpful to think more often about how he has paid for others’ sins rather than just dwelling on how he has paid for our own.
What do we see in the atonement when we look at it from that angle? Then he remembered how Abigail, in her role as peacemaker, claimed Nabal’s sins and asked David to forgive her. How could he ever withhold forgiveness from her? And that was just the point, for he hadn’t.
Then there was the point about how Abigail supplied David with everything he needed, thereby atoning for another’s sins and making David whole. Yes, that’s right, he assured himself. That makes sense. But what about Jonah? What does his story have to do with Abigail’s?
Rick puzzled about that. And then he realized that, of course, the Jonah and Abigail stories were each about extending mercy and therefore intersected on that point. But how do they illuminate different aspects of mercy? he wondered. Rick continued this way for a few minutes and then tried to record his thinking in some logical way-in a form he could understand and remember. He was genuinely excited, some forty-five minutes later, when he looked at what he had finally written:
The Lord’s Atonement and Mercy
1. We are each of us sinners, entitled to nothing but hell and therefore utterly and equally dependent upon the mercies of the Lord. (Jonah)
2. I can receive of the Lord’s mercy-and the happiness, healing, and peace that attend it-only to the extent I extend the same to others. (Jonah)
3. The Lord mercifully removes any justification for failing to extend mercy to others. (Abigail)
a. For the Lord has taken the sins of others upon his own head and personally atoned for them. (Abigail)
b. What possible justification could there be for demanding more for others’ sins than the Lord has given? (Abigail)
4. I can recover mercy by remembering (a) Abigail’s offering, (b) the Lord’s question to Jonah, and (c) my own sins, the memory of which brings me to the Lord and invites me to rediscover his mercy and peace.
5. If I repent of failing to extend mercy, the Lord will supply me with everything I need and more-he will grant me his love, his companionship, his understanding, his support. He will make my burdens light. (Abigail)
Rick read and reread what he had written. As he did so, he felt a hope within him that he hadn’t felt in months, if not years. Happiness was still a possibility, and it had more to do with him than he had imagined.
He could hear the TV downstairs. The kids must be up. He sprang out of bed, pulled on some clothes, and folded the paper into his pocket. It was time to rejoin his family.
2004 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.