These days few things seem to surprise us. With a Youtube society, we are used to seeing the outlandishly improbable happen. We can see cats dancing, watch sculpture art being created out of cheese blocks, and amazing trick shots from basketballs thrown off of waterfalls into a hoop 200 feet below.
However, a few months ago, I watched something that I had a hard time believing, even though I watched it live. My mind couldn’t quite process what was happening.
I watched some 6’1″ little hobbit look-a-like named Mac McClung, who had only played in 2 NBA games total, win the Slam dunk contest.
He competed against some of the worlds best athletes and won. It wasn’t even particularly close. He blew them out of the water. How was that even possible? The first time I saw him grab a ball, I thought it was a joke, or some sort of construed, elaborate ploy to get the attention of the judges by having the ball boy run towards the basket. Then the magic happened.
Judging by the reactions of the other participants, announcers, fans, and the other NBA players on the court, I wasn’t the only one that was shocked. They all looked at him like he had just walked out of a spaceship.
Not only did this little guy look just like Merriodoc Brandybuck from the Lord of the Rings movies (which could explain his abnormal abilities somewhat because of his consumption of the magic draughts of water he received from Treebeard the Ent, and his connection to Galadriel, the Queen of the Elves of Lothlorien) but he also apparently possesses the jumping ability of a human grasshopper. It was a lot of fun to watch.
He had become way bigger, he had become way more than what he was just the day before. To be honest, I don’t think anyone really knew who he even was. It was a miracle. What a fun story.
Maybe the funnest part of the story is how applicable it is to all of us. The same principle that powered his legs into video game super-springs can be used to treat any obstacle we face in our lives. Probably not in the same way this worked for Mac McClung, but in our own unique circumstances.
The idea and principle is this…
We can be much more than what we think we can be.
We can acomplish and achieve much more than we think we can accomplish and achieve….and,
We can overcome any and all obstacles and challenges.
We just need to tap into a special power that is offerred freely to all of us.
Just a few short weeks ago, our daughter Olivia left to serve a mission in Brazil. Before she left, she spoke in our sacrament meeting about this exact principle. It had significant meaning to her.
She shared that the Atonement of Jesus Christ not only has the power to save or redeem us from sin and physical death, but it also has the power to enable us to overcome any obstacle we face. The Atonement of Jesus Christ has both a redeeming power, and an enabling power. Elder Bednar spoke about this particular subject in 2002.
So what does this look like in real life? What does it mean for us to use the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
Alma taught the people of Gideon about the enabling power jointly with the redeeming power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon…
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictions and btemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him adeath, that he may bloose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to csuccor his people according to their infirmities.” -Alma 7:11, 12
Afflictions, temptations, pains, sicknesses, and infirmities are not sins. They are not relieved through the repentence process. These are directly addressed as conditions subject to relief and succor of the Savior of the world through his Atonement. He has already felt, experienced, and overcome all of these conditions along with all our sins, in order to be perfectly empathetic to our needs. He knows how to help us.
Moroni also shared what he was taught by the Lord directly about weaknesses.
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.” -Ether 12:27
That sounds a lot like enabling power to me. And, Jesus actually gave us the recipe on how to access his enabling power. All we have to do to grow our own set of spirutual grasshopper legs to compete in the Dunk Contest is to humble ourselves, and have faith in him.
Olivia did a great job highlighting that principle in her talk, and sharing her experiences in the months leading up to her decision to go on a mission.
If anyone has ever evidenced the principle of the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it would be Olivia. Her story is as dramatic, as incredible, and as amazing as a Hobbit winning the Dunk contest. She is a quiet, reserved, and humble young woman who loves her chill time, family, and a good movie.
But, in just a few short weeks, she has already blossomed into someone even more incredible. She is now a person willing to leave everything that is comfortable, everything that is familiar and safe, to step out into the vast unknown of a mission experience. And, this experience will happen thousands of miles away.
In this process, she is managing to influence all of us, her Mom and Dad, her amazing younger sister, and brother, and even her older brother away in school.
She is now in week 3 in the missionary training center in São Paulo, Brazil, learning how to be a missionary. She’s learning Portuguese, learning a new culture, learning how to budget time, and spending 16 hours a day to reach those goals. At times it has been a struggle, and the struggle will likely remain. But, we have already seen how she has been stretched and grown to become much more than she was, even a few short weeks ago. She is tapping into the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and growing spitual grasshopper legs.
We are proud of her and her decision, we grateful for the example she is to all of us, and grateful that we get to share her expericence right along with her. She is now running towards the hoop and preparing for the 360 behind the back, double clutch reverse dunk that will blow our minds!
Te amamos Olivia!