Monday, April 27, 2009

The Road to Hell Is Paved with Good Excuses: A Few Thoughts on Fidelity and Commitment and Being There

When I was a young missionary my mission president M. Russell Ballard told us that most people who sinned excused their sins with good excuses. Everyone other than themselves was usually blamed. If a woman was unfaithful to her husband she would inevitably blame it on the inattention of the spouse or she was just weak.

Before my mission I had a girlfriend who went away for the summer she swore she was passionately in love with me. She idolized the ground I walked on. She was constantly in touch with me. She couldn't stand being apart from me. As the summer romance moved in to the middle of the summmer she was sad and heartbroken that she was going to have to leave me to go to Fish Lake near Salina, Utah. When she returned a few weeks later during a tender reunion and embrace she broke down crying and berating herself. She confessed that she had fornicated with an attractive life guard while at the camp. Being the sap that I was I forgave her. Later she ended up pregnant and didn't know the identity of the father since she had multiple men she was involved with. Out of a sense of duty and thinking I had a clue what love was I tried to run off with her.

My father was an old man and had a heart attack a couple of years before. But when I tried to go and run off with her he and I wrestled as I tried to go to my true love. He said something that made me love him in one of the few moments I ever knew he cared for me. He said son I love you and even if I died fighting you I am saving you from yourself. In my heart I knew she really wasn't committed to a lifetime let alone an eternal relationship. Everyone that walks this earth seeks for someone committed to them. It never fails to amaze me when a person will throw away those who love them purely for a perception of something better.

Many people need to be saved from themselves. The way that a missionary can save them is with the power of the word. The only way to overcome a good excuse by those who have lost their way is to rebuke them with the word of God. Many times investigators and even faithful members lose their way. Elder Ballard taught us as missionaries that we should love the sinner but hate their sin.

If we all sat passively by and didn't stand up for anything the world would disintegrate even faster and more wickedly. I am willing to fight for the souls of every last man, woman, and child. I no people have their free will to sin but we have a responsibility as missionaries and members to raise a warning voice.

My father knew from his mistakes in life the hell my life would have been had I ran away with my friend. By the time she was 25 she had been married and divorced two times. She was never able to have a baby. She actually called me and offered herself to me. I met her behind the gas station on Sahara Avenue. She was married to a pharmacist and had a new pickup truck and a German shepherd as her consolation.

I told her I still loved her and because I loved her I could not be intimate with her physically. I said I offered her the gospel of Jesus Christ and that it would bring her a lasting fulfillment that she was not finding in her life. She said she had known Mormons when she worked at a truck stop in St. George and she knew many of did things with her. I said there are always a few that don't live up to their commitments but that I knew if she joined the church that she had a chance at what she wanted most. I promised her in the name of the Lord that if she would learn the gospel and live it she would find what she wanted. She said that wasn't for her. I cried as I made my way across Las Vegas that day. I literally walked and hitch hiked the twenty miles back to my house knowing my father had saved me from some one that would wander from husband to husband and from one failed relationship to another for the rest of their life in to eternity.

The most difficult thing for a missionary and the saddest situation is when a good faithful member strays. The destruction of a family is Satan's goal. Missionaries need to preach with power and bind up the failed hearts of those who fall. They can help in strengthening families by having the spirit. I remember many a time going in to the home of a person not committed to a relationship. When people were living together I would ask them did they believe in eternal marriage. The first four times I was surprised that every time it wasn't the man but the woman who declared that they didn't want to be with him for eternity let alone this life. Most of the men got a wake up call believing that the woman loved them. In one case the person joined the church in two it sadly dissolved the relationship. One of my companions would say when I was sad "love is a miracle" elder. Commitment has to be found in both people. The most successful missionaries are those who see through the excuses and get people to make commitments on the way back on the path. Commitments take time and effort. Sometimes a person needs a friend. Missionaries are some of the best friends to sinners I have every seen.

Sometimes the person through rebellion will not return to the fold or live up to the covenants. In that case we shouldn't condemn we need to pray for them. My mission president told us that some kind come not out but through fasting and prayer. I pray for those who don't have faith I not afraid to do whatever it takes to reclaim a person. Love is difficult because we are finite beings only man was perfect and could love unconditionally. Our best efforts require making our best effort and letting Christ make up the difference. Missionaries are ambassadors and as such can act as mediators in reclaiming others. God bless the missionaries and God bless those who are struggling that they might find a way back.

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