Articles of Faith: The Price I Couldn’t Pay


“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”—A of F 1:3
It was my fault, my mistake. But who knew that a broken refrigerator would teach me such an important eternal lesson?

It was final exams week at my university. As I walked home, my last test loomed heavily on my mind. I just couldn’t wait to finish it, pack my things, say a tearful good-bye to friends, and drive home to be with my family again. Before I knew it, I would be entering the Missionary Training Center and flying across the ocean to serve in the England Manchester Mission—if I could just make it through this last exam.

I was met at the apartment door by my roommate frantically telling me our apartment manager would be coming soon for check-out inspections. My anxiety heightened when I realized that, to avoid fines, my tasks would have to be completed before I went to take my final exam.

“What are my responsibilities?” I asked. She shoved the signup sheet at me and scurried off, noticeably guilty that I had been left with the last and most dreaded of the cleaning jobs: defrosting the refrigerator.

“Well, how bad can it be?” I thought. With my work, school, and social schedule, I was practically never home. In fact, I don’t think I ever opened the freezer that semester. What I saw shocked me. Three inches of ice entombed a bag of frozen vegetables along with several other unidentifiable items. Inwardly I groaned, knowing I would have very little time to cram for my test.

Without time to let the refrigerator defrost correctly, I turned to more creative ways. I tried picking at it with silverware, but the ice was solid. I borrowed a screwdriver and began chopping at the ice, making some headway. Encouraged by my progress, I became a bit careless, and after chipping away a large piece, I heard a quiet “sssssssss” sound, like air seeping out of a tire. Upon closer examination, I discovered a small puncture to the plastic-covered piping at the back of the freezer. After a few attempts to repair the hole, I called the apartment manager, who soberly congratulated me on “buying” my first refrigerator.

The weight of his words on my mind equaled the weight of the refrigerator. In one careless moment, I had incurred a debt I couldn’t possibly hope to pay. My savings were for my mission, and even then, I had to rely heavily on my parents for financial help.

I called my mom and dad in my time of great need. I felt terrible. After all they had done for me, how could I ask them to buy a useless refrigerator? I will never forget the feelings of love and compassion my dad expressed, assuring me that he would find a way to pay for it on my behalf.

Though I greatly appreciated his help at the time, it wasn’t until I was on my mission, trying to teach someone about the Atonement that my mind turned back to my broken refrigerator experience.

Essentially, we all have a debt, a broken refrigerator so to speak, that we can’t possibly pay for. Because of Jesus Christ, we do not have to suffer and carry the burdens of sin if we choose to repent. He has paid the price for each of us. It is only in and through His love and grace that we are able to go on and progress toward exaltation.

I echo the words of the prophet Jacob: “Oh how great the plan of our God!” (2 Ne. 9:13). Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation is so perfect, so complete. I am and will be eternally thankful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know He loves me.

Peace and the Atonement

President Boyd K. Packer

“For some reason, we think the Atonement of Christ applies only at the end of mortal life to redemption from the Fall, from spiritual death. It is much more than that. It is an ever-present power to call upon in everyday life. When we are racked or harrowed up or tormented by guilt or burdened with grief, He can heal us. While we do not fully understand how the Atonement of Christ was made, we can experience ‘the peace of God, which passeth all understanding’ (Philip. 4:7).” —President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” Ensign, May 2001, 23.

Extra! Extra!

These verses are good cross-references for the third article of faith: Mosiah 3:9, 17; D&C 84:20–22; D&C 130:20–21.

These articles in the Gospel Library at www.lds.org also talk about the Atonement: “The Light and Life of the World” (Ensign, Nov. 1987), by Elder Dallin H. Oaks; and “How Men Are Saved” (Ensign, Nov. 1974), by President Marion G. Romney.

Next month in this series, read about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel in a young woman’s conversion story.

[illustration] Illustrated by Roger Motzkus

[illustration] Christ in Gethsemane, by Harry Anderson

Shelly L. Johnson is a member of the El Paso 13th Ward, El Paso Texas Mount Franklin Stake.