I'm going to be perhaps a little too autobiographical in this post. But that statement always reminds us we should never apologize too much for personal experiences, since those are the only ones any of us has.
That said, I was sent an e-mail last night by one of our sons. This was his message:
"I wanted to share this with everybody. This is a great message that was recommended to me by a member of my elders quorum and it really resonated with me tonight.
"I know I am not the only one in this family who has a tendency to beat himself up over mistakes I've made (continue to make) so this talk helps me see how unfair I am being to myself when I hold myself to that false standard and wallow in the pain of my imperfections. Christ's grace through His atonement is truly miraculous - I don't understand it but know that I must simply accept it and be grateful for all that it is.
"I love you all. I pray for each of you and your happiness...
It was a BYU Devotional given on July 12, 2011, by Brad Wilcox. His title was "His Grace is Sufficient". If you've got thirty minutes, it will be time well-spent. Here's the transcript of his talk.
After watching his talk this morning I was reminded of something I wrote years ago. I titled it "The Impossible Gospel" and included it as Chapter Ten of our book, Power and Covenants: Men, Women and Priesthood. I titled that chapter "No Power in the Law". We wrote that manuscript back in 1996, so I must have written my article years before that. I submitted it for possible publication in the Ensign, but it may have been a little ahead of its time. It was before we started to see articles it the Ensign about child abuse, divorce, pornography, gays and lesbians - you know, before we admitted to ourselves in the Church that we were failing miserably under the rigorous demands of the law of Moses. So they politely declined to publish it way back then. Perhaps today it would be better received.
I wrote back to Steve and the rest of our family in response to his e-mail last night. This is what I told them:
"I endorse this. Thanks Steve for the great reminder. I grew up in a home where false doctrine in the form of strict compliance and outward behavior was preached and required. Always there were constant reminders that we were the family of a prophet of God and we must set an example of perfection (yes, perfection) before the Church. Even Grandfather Lee told us on more than one occasion, 'My sermons will never be more effective than the lives you live.' It was a heavy burden to bear as his oldest grandson.
"I was spared from the effects of that false doctrine and rescued in my embrace of, and my personal need for, the grace of Christ. I knew I could never measure up, even though for years I tried my very best. It was never enough. I kept failing in even the simplest of carnal desires. My natural man was well-developed at an early age.
"In later years, I have come to love and accept my father wholly and without judgment for who he is - a devout Pharisee. I've even lovingly joked with him about it. There really isn't anything terribly wrong with being a Pharisee because they are so observant. The only weakness is they (my dear father included) won't live long enough to have mastered all 613 points of the law of Moses. The sum of all the knots in the Jewish prayer shawl is 613, because that is traditionally the number of mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah. Unfortunately, as witnessed by Steve's observations in his e-mail, some of you have inherited this false tradition despite my diligent efforts to banish such heresy from our family.
"Many years ago I wrote an article I submitted for consideration to be published in the Ensign. They politely declined my unsolicited submission (it was when a former missionary companion, Giles Florence, was one of the editors). I have now lived long enough that it might be better received today. I titled it 'The Impossible Gospel'. Search for it on Goates Notes, you'll find it there. I've written about this subject extensively. I read it again this morning, and it's still timeless in my humble opinion.
"Embrace it. Accept the grace of our Savior for you. He loves you in your imperfection. Don't think you have to wait to go to Him for help until you are 'worthy enough' or until you 'know enough'. He will bless you with an abundance of His grace, His enabling power, to make of you something far in excess of who you are today if you will partner with Him today. Don't wait. His grace is sufficient because you never will be worthy enough, you will never know enough, you will never have enough money, and you will never be righteous enough. . . you'll have to think about that, perhaps. I will say this, however, you are all good looking enough ;-) Thank God for good genes.
"I had a 'shower revelation' years ago - that's where I receive a lot of great inspiration. A voice whispered to me, 'Teach your children the gospel of Jesus Christ so well that when they hear it taught in power and authority years later it will merely be an echo, not some strange new sound.' Now that you all have children of your own, I pass that torch along to each of you.
"Love and blessings,