I’m sure anyone with a loyalty card can relate. You spend, spend, spend so you can qualify for a discount or a coupon or a special offer thanking you for your loyal patronage. I do that at my local hardware store. This store doesn’t require me to buy much until I get a $5 or $10 off coupon in the mail. These are especially great when the seasons are changing because I can buy ice melt or landscaping materials. And I like to brag about getting a bargain.
Can you guess what happens? I get the coupon, put it away for safe keeping so I can use it when I’m ready, and then pull it out to use just in time to realize… it expired a week ago. Every. Single. Time. I hate that feeling. A deal was within reach. Plans were made. Ice was melted and flower beds were beautified. In my mind. In actuality, I still need those things, but now I have to shell out more of my OWN money instead of taking advantage of what had been offered me on behalf of the store.
The Lord Jesus Christ offered us a way to overcome our sins. His Atonement provides a way for us to repent of our wrongdoings, seek forgiveness from God and those we’ve hurt or offended, and be made spiritually whole again. Jesus Christ has already suffered, taking upon Him all our sins. He assumed the burden and paid the price of our sins. “For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; … yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement” (Alma 34:9). But for the atonement to have effect, we must exercise faith in Him. We must be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and obey His commandments. And we must be faithful disciples. And, the Lord has taught that we must not procrastinate the day of our repentance (Alma 34:33).
So back to the expired coupon. It’s not hard to imagine how I feel when I take full advantage of the deal that the hardware store has made available to me and the disappointment I experience when I realize I have missed my chance. Christ has made it possible to gain forgiveness and eternal life. Unlike the store coupon, available to only certain customers, His offer is available to every one of God’s children. And unlike the store’s policy of not accepting expired coupons, God is merciful. He knows we’re not perfect and will continue to sin. He wants us to repent and let the atonement take effect in our lives. I believe in His “policy.” I need His mercy always.