I had the chance to spend four and a half months of my life in a little farm community called Basin City in Washington. In the 2000 census, the population of Basin City was less than 1,000 people. While there aren’t very many citizens of Basin City, the people that do live there are the salt of the earth. Some may call me biased but I am thoroughly convinced that Basin City is one of the best places on the planet.
One thing I love about Basin City is that it is just full of character. Each person there is unique and there are things that I will forever remember about my time there. For example: Sister Schultz' toffee, Sheffield's Cider, homemade jam and rolls...everyone has their "thing" and they do it well. But there is one thing they all have in common: they love the gospel of Jesus Christ and they live it every day of their lives.
In the Basin City LDS chapel there is a painting of Jesus Christ that hangs behind the pulpit. It’s an older painting of the Savior and while religious art hangs throughout LDS churches everywhere, it is rarely found in the chapel so I found the painting behind the pulpit a little strange for the first few months I was there...until I heard its story.
One Sunday the stake president, President Ross Montierth, was speaking to the youth in the ward and he said that when the Basin City church was built in the early 1960s it was built by the current Bishop's father who was sent there with his family on a church service mission. Turns out, he loved it so much he never left. He found a bunch of humble farmers there who in their spare time helped him build the church building. Their lack of experience but determination to build a place to worship is the reason that still to this day if you look closely you will find flaws in the construction.
In 1965, President Hinckley dedicated the church building. Years later, the church was to be remodeled. At this point it was in the church handbook that there should not be paintings in the chapel itself. They could be in the halls of the church and in classrooms but not in the chapel. In an effort to obey church policy, the church leaders went to take down the painting that had hung in the chapel since its dedication. However, when they removed the painting they found that hidden beneath the picture of Christ was one of the biggest flaws in the entire building. The church leaders then found that there was a clause in the Handbook that said that if the painting was part of the original layout of the church it could be left there. So there it still hangs.
After telling that story, President Montierth asked the youth, "How appropriate that the Savior is covering a flaw?" I have thought about that question over and over again.
It has caused me to reflect on the concept of grace. I think sometimes we think that we are supposed to be perfect but Heavenly Father doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He only asks that we do our very best.
Lorenzo Snow, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “Do not expect to become perfect at once. If you do you will be disappointed. Be better today than you were yesterday. And be better tomorrow than you were today.”
The truth be told, no matter how determined we are and how hard we try one truth remains- we need Him. We cannot do this alone. People throughout history have always needed Him and we are no different. He loves us and all He asks is that we try.
In the eyes of the LDS church members in Basin City their chapel is perfect. Why? Because just like them...it has character. It reminds them of where they came from. Like the cracks in the construction of the Basin City chapel, we all have flaws. We all make mistakes but the atonement of Jesus Christ covers all of them. The atonement of Jesus Christ is enough. Our use of it in our daily lives builds and strengthens our character. The Savior covers our flaws and in His eyes we become perfect.
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