Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Forgiveness

We have just completed a most remarkable week! We are refreshed, rejuvenated and full of all those things which the love of Jesus Christ can bring. As you know, we have been very busy with Zion Beckons in attempting to bring everyone’s thoughts on board plus keep up a reasonable level of postings as well. Little did we know just how challenging this would be.

Over the last few weeks we let a lot of things around the house slide. Then, we faced the week of the reunion in Odessa, plus blogging, plus mowing and maintaining our little forest and yard, plus normal inside work left undone, plus other things which got ignored, and then facing house guests over this last weekend. I won’t bother to tell you how much the heat discouraged working; you were probably trying to hide from it too.

As usual the Lord provided the strength to either get things cleaned up, or else figure how to conceal them. I was able to get away for an overnight to Odessa which I covered in a previous post. Just one more word on that to tell you it was a glorious experience and well worth the effort. It is enervating to meet with other Orthodox Saints who understand what the Lord requires.

Saturday afternoon, our guests arrived. Hartley Stanbridge (He has posted here previously) and his wife Marjorie, who had flown in from Las Vegas late in the week. When we lived there, the Las Vegas Restoration Branch met in their living room and it was there that Jan had the experience which led her to Jesus Christ and the Restoration movement. That alone would be enough for them to be welcome guests. There is, I believe, a lifetime attachment to those elders who baptize and confirm new candidates to the faith. But there’s more.

Marjorie and I also have a special bond. Not only have we been friends for sixty-three years, but we were married from 1952 to 1976. We shared the parenting of three children. Today the four of us have a very special relationship. She has, through her grace, forgiven me for me for my errant ways. She and Jan are extremely close friends. Hartley and I are brothers as only those united in the mutual feeling about Christ and His church can be. It is, indeed, miraculous. Although I often ache over the pain I caused years ago, I admit to enjoying the fruits of sincere repentance. If you are ever in Las Vegas, contact them and join the circle of Saints on any Sunday morning. I guarantee you will be uplifted.

On Sunday morning we drove over to Carthage for Sunday school, worship, and our traditional basket dinner at the church. What a joy to introduce them to the beloved Saints in the Ozarks. I consider this feast a very important part of the activities in our church. The informality draws us closer as we share with each other in an unstructured setting. Marjorie even fashioned two of her “secret” recipe chocolate pies for the table. May God forgive us, we held one back for a snack on Sunday evening at home. They left about noon Monday amidst a shower of good wishes and prayers for both families, urging God’s continued protection. Between us, we’re almost three hundred years old, so we need all the assistance the Almighty can deliver.

As an excellent example of a human being trying earnestly to emulate God and His forgiveness, Marjorie stands alone. When we first separated, she encouraged frequent conversations in the interest of the children as to their progress and welfare. Part of these talks also involved the very hectic and upsetting developments in the church at a very critical time. Like many of us after the 1984 conference, she was extremely upset. My new wife Jan waited patiently as Marge and I talked on the phone and discussed the disturbing events she witnessed as a delegate. Marge never allowed our former problems to intrude on any of these discussions. She always had her priorities well understood and allowed me to share. To Marjorie I can only say, thank you for understanding God’s perfect love.

In my zeal to never see us repeat the mistakes of the past, I often may seem critical of some Saints and especially the hierarchy. Marjorie has helped me to see the wisdom of prayer for those who seem to have some confusion about our necessary objectives. She has also taught me that there is no wisdom in carrying a grudge, and that forgiveness is an example of strength, not weakness. Some have expressed surprise and occasional disappointment that I manage to get along with some folks that they consider enemies of the faith. I would rather see them as mislead or mistaken, victims of the truly unrepentant. We have many in our midst who are faithful—good, God fearing people who have been deceived by glib and the silver-tongued—or else slow learners who just plainly “don’t get it.”

We are not sorting apples here. A few misplaced ideas do not make them rotten. It simply means that we have not been persuasive enough to help them see the errors. We have not made a thorough enough effort to explain the evil is happening within our church. We have not taught them our own history. If we fail to do these things, then their failures become our failures.

I urge everyone to follow Marjorie’s example. Pray for the sinner. Accept repentance without reminder. Work and look for the beautiful, look for the true. Try forgiveness, it works.

May God bless Marge and Hartley Stanbridge.


Cecil Moon

3 comments:

Seeker said...

Almost as soon as I posted “Forgiveness,” I received an email from Hartley Stanbridge. He voiced concern that some might not take well to the fact
that I was once divorced. I am aware that the practice is not sanctioned in the church. He suggested that it might do personal damage to me and to
Zion Beckons. I disagreed and sent him a personal email to explain my position. Upon receipt he suggested by return email that I post it as a comment on the blog. It follows:

Hartley,
Thank you for the response to the blog. As you well know, I value your opinion and consider it offered in love and concern for my personal improvement.

It is my desire to be completely open and honest with everyone about who I was, what I became and with the Lord’s help, what I hope to become. To conceal anything about my past (divorce, alcoholism, etc.) is to deny for
myself that which I seek from others, honesty and sunshine. If persons who read Zion Beckons are encouraged by inference to conceal from themselves, others and God their misbehavior I feel I will be misdirecting them to an unfavorable outcome. One of our uppermost desires is to remove
secrecy from all our dealings.

If the reader’s focus on my misbehavior is to the exclusion of the strength of Marge’s faith and willingness to forgive, they misunderstand the issue. As I pointed out, she has demonstrated character and values vastly in excess of what might be normally required. I have throughout my
life met women (and men) who have wallowed in bitterness and carried
grudges against former husbands (and wives) with the result of ruining their own life in a fruitless crusade for vengeance. She had every reason to dismiss me out of hand and follow that path. Thanks to Jesus Christ and her own outstanding character, she did not take that route. Instead, she held out her hand to effect reconciliation at a spiritual level.

God and man may share an image but they are not the same (except maybe
Enoch.) Men have faults and foibles. God does not. Men seek that which will enhance themselves and falsely believe it will make them better. God has the “big picture.” One cannot receive redemption from sin unless one
is prepared to identify his problems. It is not enough to say, “Lord,Lord, I have sinned.” We have to openly acknowledge the exact nature of the act(s?) in detail to demonstrate our understanding of our personal
failures and then seek His forgiveness.

We are deafened by a constant barrage by public figures saying, “I am
orry if I have hurt anyone.” These are weasel words which put the lie to the apology. I do not believe God offers forgiveness for “if.”

Hartley, I understand your concerns and appreciate that you wish the best for me. I hope you can accept my imperfections and realize they have no impact on that to which I aspire. I seek no office, position or status other than witness and testifier of God’s constant presence in our lives.
There are no surprises for Him in my confessions. Thanks again for your
concern.

In His abiding love,

Cec

Book of Mormon Warrior said...

You are ok in my book, Cecil.

Christopher

Equally Coy said...

Cecil,
I am more concerned about Hartley's 'concern' than I am about whether you have experienced the tragedy of divorce, or are a recovering alcoholic, or whatever.

The obvious "sins" of a person are evidence of personhood, and are also avenues of vulnerability for God's grace.
The not-so-obvious sins of people (not obvious because they require that others make judgment), on the other hand, are nonetheless evidence of personhood, but are roadblocks of imperviousness to God's grace.

The ironic and paradoxical thing about this is that the former person, with obvious "sins" is unfortunately often branded; required by the pious to be forever re-visiting, re-repenting, anxiously scrubbing their souls to remove the taint. While the latter person often enjoys the full measure of respect and homage that usually accompanies the pious portrait of the "deadly" sins.

The fact that Hartley voiced the concern (not withstanding nor disparaging his love and friendship for you, that you yourself proclaims) indeed indicates to this objective reader, that he views you as "branded"-tainted.

I don't know either of you, except by your writings on this blog.
I see in you an avenue.

e.c.