Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Golden Factor

When Bishop Bassett asked me to speak in Sacrament Meeting on the topic, Refrain From Swearing, he had no idea of my profound admiration for J. Golden Kimball. When I told the congregation as much, in my introduction of the topic, they say the blood drained from Bishop Bassett's face. Still, I made it through the entire sermon without a single slip. It's a good thing too because, back then I wasn't as quick to repent as Brother Kimball. I am repenting pretty dern fast these days, though.

He really had nothing to fear. I don't cotton to swearing. Clean language is a beautiful thing and I encourage its use. I personally, refrain from crude language most of the time, usually.

It is important to understand that J. Golden Kimball was called of God to be one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy. Despite the occasional slip of the tongue, Golden, was golden. People flocked to hear him speak. There was humor, surprise, and profound testimony of the Atonement in every sermon he preached. There was also honesty. Sometimes painful, always enlightening, Golden's honesty and frankness opened hearts and encouraged transgressors. And that is the Golden Factor.

It is said that poor Elder Rudger Clawson had a painfully difficult time stomaching Golden's antics. Serious, straight laced, Apostle Clawson was appalled that the Church should be represented by such a rough shod cowboy. He is reported to have sought Golden's dismissal, but President Heber J. Grant wouldn't hear of it. Frayed, as he was around the edges, Golden had a place in the Kingdom and God had a use for him. And that is the Golden Factor.

J. Golden Kimball knew he wasn't perfect. In fact he once said, "I may not have walked the straight and narrow, but I crossed it as often as I could." To further enhance his uncharacteristic image, Golden was an avowed Democrat. He did, once, attend the Republican Caucus and, having been discovered in the crowd, was asked by Senator/Apostle Smoot to offer the invocation. Golden declined, answering, "No thanks Reed, I'd just as soon the Lord didn't know I was here." (See, he didn't always swear!)

I didn't set out to tell J. Golden stories, but I feel one coming on. Hugh B. Brown once said of a urge to tell a tale, "Its like a fit, there's no stopping it, you might as well go ahead and have it." Please forgive this fit: In a church welfare meeting Golden was assigned to check on a piece of property in Manti for a possible welfare farm. He was headed that way for a Stake Conference. In the next meeting President Grant asked if he'd had the opportunity to visit the parcel. Golden answered that he had.

"How was it?" asked President Grant.
"Well now, it was a nice piece of ground, about 180 acres, with a nice slope to it and a good stream of water at the head." responded Golden.
"How big was the stream?" queried the prophet.
"I could piss about half way acrossed it." answered Golden.
To which Rudger Clawson huffed, "Bro-ther Kimball, you're out of order!"
"Of course I am," said Golden matter of factly, "if I wasn't I could've pissed all the way across."

Golden often plead for the Saints to be kind to him and forgive him and one another. His message was one of repentance, redemption, and devotion. No one was more devoted than Brother Kimball and inspite of His weakness, God allowed him to do a great work in strengthening the church. A loving Heavenly Father knew that lots of the Latter-day Saints needed to realize that they were invited to the table, just as they are. The church needs its Rudger Clawsons, but it doesn't need 12 million of them. It needs its J. Golden Kimballs too and everyone in between. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone has someone to bless. All are blessed with unique gifts that the Lord can use. Gifts few if any others can offer as well. And that is the Golden Factor.

Sweetie's grandfather was such a man. On a rare weekend home from sheep camp, Willard was approached by the Bishop to get things started for him to go on a Mission. Willard was shocked and said, "Bbut, Bbishop, I've only been to the Second Grade and can hardly read ner write!" In great wisdom the Bishop responded, "The Lord will use those who are willing to be used." And Willard answered, "If the Lord can use me, then I'll go." And that is the Golden Factor.

This isn't the Stepford Church, full of flawless, Molly and Marty Mormons. The Church wasn't meant to be operated by perfect people or God would have to outsource it to Angels or something. The Church was designed for you, everyone of you, and even me, as a place to learn and grow. A place to try us, to teach us, to sharpen our skills, and test our mettle. If we can see it as that it isn't hard to see how well it is doing it's job. Every day humble Saints work myriad miracles for which they are lacking in experience and expertise. Who, because they love the Lord and acknowledge their weakness before him are able to be instruments in His might hands. And every day, myriads make mistakes and stumble along and mostly we understand and forgive them, help them up and help them along.

And that, is the Golden Factor.

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