During the calamities experienced by the inhabitants of the American continent at the time of the Crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the people felt a “vapor of darkness” so profound that no light or fire could be kindled (3 Nephi 8:20–21). The voice of the Savior was then heard among all the inhabitants of the land, imploring, “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” (3 Nephi 9:13).
These words may also be applied to those of us who have not properly repented of our sins and are experiencing feelings of guilt and darkness. Carrying the burden of past sins can darken the mind and create stumbling blocks to peace and joy and spiritual growth.
From the gospel of Matthew we read a similar plea:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29).
When we are baptized and confirmed, we have entered into the gate, and there lies before us a “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:18).
Baptism is the gate that opens the path leading back to the presence of God. Yet we are not saved at baptism as is sometimes taught and believed in the world. Repentance is not a one-time phenomenon that occurs only before baptism; it is something we do over and over again as we make progress along the strait and narrow path.
We progress along this path step by step. With each step we take, the Lord, by the power of His Spirit, sheds forth light upon our lives, for “the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit” (D&C 84:46). However, if we do not continue to progress and take the next step as the Light of Christ illuminates our way, we may lose the light we once possessed (see D&C 1:33).
In Doctrine and Covenants 93:39, the Lord tells us, “That wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.”
Then in the resultant darkness we stumble. We lose spiritual insight. Reality is distorted, and we lose the perspective of the truth we once understood.
When we hear the words “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” we sometimes judge ourselves as unworthy and fear that the Lord wouldn’t want us to approach Him in our state of corruption.
Some may feel that God is displeased with them or doesn’t love them because they are still plagued with painful memories and bad feelings even though they are striving to serve Him. Following this line of thinking, they may feel rejected by God and then may reject Him. They may stop praying. They may continue to go through the motions of serving, but they stop believing.
Those negative thoughts and ideas about rejection by God do not come from Him. His plea to us states, “For I am meek and lowly in heart.” Webster’s New World Dictionary defines meek as “patient, mild, not inclined to anger or resentment.” The Lord is not angry with us when we sincerely come unto Him.
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, assures: “The gospel teaches us that relief from torment and guilt can be earned through repentance. Save for those few who defect to perdition … , there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. …
“Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and you cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ.”1
In the Book of Mormon we read: “[Christ] doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
“Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price” (2 Nephi 26:24–25; emphasis added).
May we have full trust and confidence in the Redeemer’s power to heal us. The Savior implores us today, just as He implored the inhabitants of the American continent shortly after His Crucifixion, “Will ye … now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted that I may heal you?” (3 Nephi 9:13). Let us return to Him, for truly He lives and loves us.