In my church, applications for church membership routinely come before the deacon board. Recently an application came in from a man with a long history of broken trust and questionable activity. He had been known for coming to church when something was in it for him. We know he comes with a drinking problem and that he had used drugs in the past. He had applied for benevolence numerous times only to disappoint everyone by falling back into a sinful and nonproductive lifestyle. Rarely employed and rarely employable, he had recently cleaned up his life and was wanting to join our membership. We were faced with a dilemma. Do we discard all the baggage he comes with and bring such a person immediately into our household? Or do we deny his request in an effort to protect this body of believers?
We are all but sinners saved by grace and as far as forgiving him for his past conduct and attitudes we have no choice in the matter but to immediately and completely forgive him. But forgiveness isn't the issue here. The issue here is trust and they're worlds apart.
Rick Warren touched on this when he wrote the following in The Purpose Driven Life: "Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record. If someone hurts you repeatedly, you are commanded by God to forgive them instantly but you are not expected to trust them immediately, and you are not expected to continue allowing them to hurt you. They must prove they have changed over time."
So where does that leave us with this particular man's application for membership? He will be interviewed and questioned about his sincerity but more than anything he will be forgiven and loved and all our reservations will be revealed to him so that he will know mercy but it will be explained that the rebuilding of trust will take time. We will let him know that we want nothing so much as to bring him into our household, and this is what we are eagerly anticipating, but there has to occur a track record, a period of time to regain our trust in him. But we must be ever mindful of the fact that he used and hurt us in the past, and we mustn't let him continue to use and hurt us. For us to handle the situation in any other way would be to treat lightly our responsibility of shepherding the Lord's household in a wise and healthy manner and to protect our reputation in the community because our reputation reflects on our heavenly Father. So while we must be cautious, we must at the same time give him immediate and complete forgiveness. This can and will be done in a loving manner and he will be assured that we will eagerly celebrate his adoption into God's family but we will do so fully explaining our reservations and informing him just what it means to represent the eternal Father in this sick, ungodly culture we find ourselves in. And it will be explained how just stating our reservations is an act of love. We want him to fully understand our position. But that we will deal with the entire issue when all cards are on the table, once we know he understands that we are not blind to the fact that he has used us in the past and we will not be blind to the same behavior in the future. And we know we must shoulder the weight of this responsibility while at the same time, forgiving him completely and immediately. We feel we have no other choice in the matter. And we will continue to pray for him personally and regularly, relying heavily on the Holy Spirit to guide our actions.
Sorry about my blog yesterday. I didn't have the time to write a blog and yesterday would have been Rich's 44th birthday, so I wasn't much interested in writing a blog anyway. His birthday doesn't hurt as much as it used to but it's still painful.
We had an interesting anniversary Sunday. Our granddaughter had arranged this incredible evening for us, complete with balloons and V.I.P. treatment at the restaurant where she works. The atmosphere was perfect and the waiter was gracious. The only thing was that the kitchen couldn't get it's act together and we waited for 2 hours for our dinner. We had tickets to see the Jewel concert at 6:00 and had no choice but to leave without dinner. But we did get to experience the appetizer, coconut tempura prawns. De-lic-ious!!! Our granddaughter was so upset that the evening didn't turn out the way she had planned. We told her everything was fine and we didn't mind how things worked out. (Although I must admit my mouth still waters at the thought of the fillet Mignon that didn't happen!) I never did understand what went wrong in the kitchen, and I guess I don't need to know. We weren't the only ones who didn't get their dinner so it's not like they singled us out. I do think everyone else left angry. I just felt bad for my granddaughter and for our waitress. She got a good tip from us because what happened was just as much out of her control as it was out of ours. The concert was great and went off without a hitch. The seating wasn't the best but other than that it all turned out to be a great evening. It was a 35th anniversary to remember, thanks to my wonderful granddaughter!
Our weather has been unseasonably warm the past week or so although it was a little foggy when I got up. It lifted almost immediately though. Seems like it's always been colder than this around Thanksgiving, but I could be wrong. The leaves are completely off our tree and so I should get down in the yard and do the final raking but I won't get to it today. Too many things to do today. I need to make a trip to the grocery store to get the remainder of our Turkeyday supplies and I'll go ahead and swing by the post office as long as I'm out. I just have lots of housework that needs to be done. I've slacked off for about as long as possible. Once upon a time I enjoyed housework. I liked the challenge of seeing how clean I could keep it. But that's certainly not me now. I hate doing housework because it doesn't stay done long enough to even make it worth my while except for the animal hair. That's awful here with a cat-filled house and a big, overgrown chihuahua (if that's spelled right) lying around on the furniture.
Well, I need to go and get busy. Michael should be waking up shortly and I'll be able to get the bed made right away. I always feel better when I have my bed made. Rarely does anyone get to see that the bed's made, but I know and I guess that's what's important. It's kind of like my toenails. Now that sandal weather has expired I still keep them polished even though I keep them shoved inside a shoe. No one sees them; but I know they're polished just the same. Okay I'm going to let this be it and get started on my house. I still have to proofread this blog but I'm not going to take a lot of time. Usually I proofread it several times but I'm going to just go after the big typos and leave the rest for you to figure out. I think you'll know what I mean. Take care and I'll see you tomorrow ...