For years I have heard the word "grace"in church and while reading my scriptures, and had no idea what it meant. I am not totally embarrassed to admit that because we all learn line upon line, precept upon precept. We all seem to hear, see, and understand what we are ready to and we all do it at our own pace.
What a powerful principle this is. I know I have not used "this divine means of help and strength, this enabling power," like I should have, because I didn't even understand what it was.
I think we may get confused and think the Atonement is for sins only, and do not understand it is for good people trying to be better. It also covers all of our emotional pain--all of it. The Lord never intended for us to do it all ourselves and to try to get through life through sheer grit, will power, discipline, and with our many limitations.
The power of the Atonement is there for all of us to use, and I think because we don't fully understand certain principles of it, we do not have access to it's full power in our lives.
Elder Bednar uses the example of Nephi from I Nephi 7 and how he understood and used the enabling power of the Savior. In this story Laman and Lemuel, have bound Nephi with cords and left him to die in the wilderness. In verse 17 it says:
"17 But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound."Elder Bednar also points out that Nephi did not pray to have his circumstances changed (get me out of this mess), but instead he prayed for "the power to change his circumstances" He did this because he understood and had experienced the enabling power of the Atonement (grace) in his life.
"I do not personally believe that the bands magically loosened. Rather I believe he was blessed with both persistence and personal strength, beyond his natural capacity that in the strength of the Lord he was ultimately enabled to break the bands" -Elder BednarIsn't that how the Lord works in our lives as well?
Now, that I know what grace is: that it enables us, strengthens us, gives us the power to change our circumstances if need be; it is like a brand new best friend, and it is written in the front pages of my scriptures, highlighted and underlined. I see it everywhere and notice, how much I need this enabling power in my life on a daily basis.
I love grace and am grateful for the blessings of the Atonement.