On Golden Pond

  • Nov. 1, 2017
  • #9263

Forgiveness does not wait for the offending party to apologize; it extends God’s mercy toward sinners like us.

Golden Pond

There is a line in a certain movie that always makes me cry.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and it’s a movie with Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda. It’s called “On Golden Pond,” and it’s a favorite. The character that Katherine Hepburn plays reminds me so much of my mother, bright, optimistic, always cheering everyone else on! Anyway, I love the music in this film, and I put on the DVD, every once in a great while, just to hear Ms. Hepburn say one line. You see, as the story unfolds, you learn that Chelsea, the daughter of this elderly couple, has always had a hard time relating to her father. Even though she’s a responsible adult with a child of her own, every time Chelsea comes to visit her parents—which is very rare—she whines to her mother, Katherine Hepburn, complaining that her father was always too hard on her; never had a good word for her, demanded too much of her, never dealt kindly with her. And when she is around her 80-year-old father, she’s aloof; she’s standoffish. She could care less that he’s old, fragile, losing his memory, and walking with great difficulty.

Finally, Ms. Hepburn grabs her daughter by the shoulders, and looks her in the eye, and insists, “Oh, Chelsea, Chelsea, aren’t you just tired of it all? Aren’t you just bored with it all? Bore, Bore, Bore! Chelsea, I suggest it’s time you grew up. Your father isn’t going to be around forever.” And then she whispers near tears, “He is just doing the best he can.”

My goodness, that line always touches me. And I love those words, “He’s just doing the best he can.” And that brief exchange between a mother and her self-centered daughter is so like a slice from our real world. It’s a scene that could be played out today; because I cannot tell you how many Christians I know who are not on speaking terms with their elderly parents. They are good Christians who go to church and they say they love Jesus, but their mantra is “My father ignored me, never played with me. He did not attend my first recital. He didn’t do homework with me. He never showed an interest in my hobbies, didn’t support my decisions.” And so on and so on.

Friend, if that’s you, may I borrow those words, “Aren’t you tired of it all? Aren’t you bored with it all?” The Bible says to honor your father and your mother, and that’s a command. So when are you going to start putting it into practice? Your elderly parent is not going to be around forever. Time is short, too short to allow resentment and bitterness to eat away at your soul. And if you’re waiting around for your father or mother to come to you and make amends, stop and consider: forgiveness never waits for the offending party to get their act together before it shows mercy. Forgiveness does not stand there with its arms folded, tapping its foot, impatiently glancing at its watch and waiting for the other person to come around and apologize. No, it doesn’t work that way. I mean, look at Christ. While we were yet sinners, while we were yet the offending party, Christ died for us. Forgiveness always takes the initiative. It moves forward with mercy, letting God deal with the past. Because when we ask God to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others, well, are we taking the initiative? Are we moving forward to extend the same mercy to others that God is extending to us? So, friend, honor your mother and your father even if they’ve hurt you. It’s what forgiveness does.

© Joni and Friends



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