When I was a teenager there was a 7-Eleven convenience store seemingly on every corner. You couldn’t drive a couple of miles without passing one of their establishments beckoning you in for a Slurpee. They were everywhere. Back then I had no idea that each and every time I saw their green, orange and red sign there was a message there for me, a spiritual reminder hidden in plain sight.
Do you remember 7-Eleven’s slogan? If you’re my age you certainly do. It is often cited in the advertising industry as one of the most memorable slogans ever……
“Oh, Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven!”
Who knew that there in the store’s name, signage, and slogan was a message of spiritual encouragement, an invitation to remember the marvelous atonement performed by our Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m sure the company has no idea what their advertising is helping me, and soon you, to remember.
Nestled midway through the Book of Mormon, is the record of a once-rebellious young man – who after full repentance and a total conversion to the gospel of the foretold Savior of the World, Jesus Christ – was transformed into the mighty government and prophet leader Alma.
In chapter seven of Alma is recorded his teachings to the people of Gideon concerning the Saviors birth, His mission – culminating in the fulfillment of the atonement by His bearing the sins of the world and loosing the bands of death – and the promise that those who repent, are baptized, and keep the commandments of God will inherit eternal life. After his own life experience, Alma speaks with power, and I’m sure great gratitude of the miracle of the Savior’s gift of the Atonement. Listen to his words:
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and sicknesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose 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 succor his people according to their infirmities.
“Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.”
Beautiful. Hopeful. At least to me.
And what is the reference for this powerful description of the atonement, provided for us all by the willing sacrifice of the only spotless Lamb? It is….
Alma 7:11 (12,13)
Hope in 7:11.
Every time I pass by a convenience store of this same name I am reminded of these verses from Alma, and filled with hope. Hope that my many and varied sins can be paid for, forgiven, and forgotten through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That, as the Lord promised Isaiah, all my scarlet can become white as snow and though I be red as crimson I can be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18) That I can stand before my Father, Christ at my side petitioning in my behalf, hopeful of the eternal reward promised to all those who love him, turn away from their natural man, and follow him.
The joy brought about by this hope doesn’t end there, with the remission of my sins. It is increased as I realize that all my doubts, fears, pains, frustrations, temptations, mourning, and sicknesses – of body, mind, and faith – are understood by Him. His experiencing these things was not just for mankind in general, in mass, but it was specific. He felt my pains and mourning. He felt your temptations and doubts. He bore her burdens. He knows their fears. Because He also suffered them, I have hope that I may rely on Him to perfectly succor me in my trials. To show me the way over them, around them, or through them. This is not one whit less miraculous to me then His rising from the dead.
We can all be hopeful and happy in our individual situations because of Jesus’ selfless fulfilling of his divine role in the Father’s plan. By doing so he became the Christ, the Messiah, our Savior and Redeemer. And can be not only the Prince of Peace (#PrinceofPeace), but the Prince of our Peace as we turn with hope to Him, repenting of our sins and laying our burdens at his feet.
Because of all this, I humbly say…..
“Oh thank heaven for 7:11!”
Bear witness of the hope that lies in you.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…. ” 1 Peter 3:15
This Easter, this spring, or anytime, gather your children, other family members, or your friends around you, for a Family Home Evening. Teach them of the centrality of Jesus Christ, and the Atonement He performed, to our Heavenly Father’s plan for our eventual eternal life and exaltation. Bear witness to them of the hope that fills your heart and how you “stand all amazed”  as you consider the love shown to you by Him through His sacrifice.
Then, get in the car and go have a Slurpee, so they’ll remember every time they see a 7-Eleven.
 “I Stand All Amazed”, LDS Hymnal, #193, Text and music: Charles H. Gabriel