Sunday, July 14, 2013
I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive...
"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." Doctrine and Covenants 64:10
I've long been pondering this passage of scripture. I have at times heard when men have spoken at the pulpit. br />
Some have said, "I can only hope that when I leave this life, that I will do so free from any offense towards God and towards men." Some have possibly been able to already suppose they are worthy of this distinction. I on the other hand am very far from being able to say this or to elude that my life hasn't gone in the direction that it should or that perhaps I may have led others astray. I may have been guilty of leading entire generations of peoples to their destruction for not saying hello to them once at church, perhaps? How does God help to sort this out? Which part is mine and which part is God's, one may ask, correct?
Is it really that simple? Are we really that close to God and eternal blessings?
It saddens me, at times, that I myself and also others around me are so easily offended. I have been on both ends of the stick as far as being the offender and the offended happens to go.
But in the New Testament we learn this. "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:" Matt 6:14 Can we TRULY take this verse literally? And the subsequent verse about the reverse consequence would then also have to be true? Is it REALLY our job to simply learn how to forgive others?
I have spent many hours and days worrying about all of these things and wondering if life is even worth it to live when we consider that it's possible that others will not choose eternal life based on mine or the bad behavior of those I am stewards over.
We all know that it is an impossible and arduous and daunting task to even consider perfection in so many aspects of our lives. We are reminded every Sunday what it is that we are or we are not doing. We may be working on indexing (for genealogy) and have fallen very short of our goals and we then wonder about how much more we could have done if we had been more diligent. Case in point, I was working at my calling as the new assistant ward clerk in my ward and for the final 10 minutes of the 2nd hour, I decided to visit the church Genealogy library and see what I could do in that short time. I had about 6 minutes and felt I could arbitrate at least 1, maybe 2 census records. (For those who don't know what this is, an arbitrator can look over 1 record that has already been indexed by 2 or more others and then apply corrections or veto certain things to then make the record accurate and submission ready.)
So I was there and then all of the sudden, I got a slap on the shoulder by someone else in the ward saying, "Hey, there's our leader right here!" or something of the sort, and I replied somewhat confused to then say, "Uh, I guess I am?" - I didn't think I had nearly the numbers sufficient to receive praise. After all, I played a Zombie video game with my 13 year old earlier in the week and if truth be told, this game didn't have as clean of a rating as "T" for teen. There were many other times throughout this first half of the year when I would prefer to do my own will vs spend my hours doing key strokes for something that would not pay me something in a monetary form.
Could forgiveness be attained by something as simple as that? Will God come up to us, despite our many short comings, and say, "No, no need to fear little one. You are mine. You did well! Better than I had even hoped for you!" and would this not still leave me puzzled and befuddled at the mercy and goodness of our savior Jesus Christ for applying his faith to each of us as we have exercised ours in him? I would prefer that the answer to my own question is a resounding YES.
Could we really outshine our own misdeeds by a few simple improvements to our life? Can we truly become leaders of many things by being obedient and faithful in just a few while in life?
In my new calling, I was reminded of my own boorish behavior when just 2 years later a family had left the ward boundaries and moved upstate Washington someplace. That dreaded day had come. What became of them? 'They certainly had not found their new ward or had gone to church again since,' I thought to myself. They were a part member family before I came along and ruined it, to be sure.
Back in the summer of 2010, I invited their eldest son to join me in the local Clark County Fair and help me with my booth some 3 weeks before the event. We were trying to adequately decide compensation. I put out fliers and so did he. I was just getting my own feet wet and failing at the same time with this youth. To make a long story short, it ended up bad and feelings were trampled on. I came over and removed the demonstration equipment that I had loaned him for trail and learning and decided not to go with the boy. I returned days later, before the 10 day event, and tried to reconcile. When I tried to pay the eldest son, his father nearly refused me and disallowed me to even pay his son for the work that I did actually see him do. The feelings of bitterness continued on and I felt powerless to make amends. His younger son was disallowed to participate in various scouting programs that I was involved with. If I understand correctly the reason why his son never went camping with us it was because Dad said he would camp in the backyard with him, instead."
So they move out of the ward 2 summers ago and never alerted the new meeting house which would be the father's responsibility to do but none of that matters anymore does it? I have consigned a family to Hell. Why then should me and my family get to live in the good place? How would that be fair? A just God would and should reward me for my boorish behavior unto the ends of the law. If I'm lucky, I may live long enough to see my boys get married in the temple. MAYBE they will be more wise than I have been. Perhaps they may escape this live having offended NONE but not me! I have offended people in business and ostracized others who did not meet my expectations. Can this stay in the past? For months, I felt that it could not. I began to spiral out of control spiritually allowing any and all anxieties of mind occupy my thinking.
I struggled for many months with these feelings of regrets. I have offended more than just one. I have lied to more than just one. I felt like an outcast already and neither of these experiences in life was helping matters any. My body has suffered illness and pains in the chest, I have felt depression and anxiety over my many mis-deeds. For HOW could it be fair that me and my family get to enjoy eternity and a wealth of blessings KNOWING that it is possible now that others will be kept away from those blessings based on my stupidity?
I think I can forgive myself for my own sins or for the things I have committed against myself but what of the other sins committed against mankind? All of these do I lay before the foot of the Lord and hope. That hope is that somehow someway there is mercy in the cards, for me and my family. I pray that as I forgive others of their trespasses against me that I may obtain forgiveness. Else why are we here? Surely God is no respecter of persons. Surely God is both fair and just. Even if I have to spend the rest of my life trying to repair the wrongs that I have done against humanity, I should hope that I too may say but with meaning, "May I now go unto my God being rid of the blood and sins of this generation" having done all that I can to stand and having defended the name of Christ even until Death!" Regardless of when that should happen, it is my hope that I may return to that heavenly place with honor!