“Uncle Edward, why have you forgiven my parents? I haven’t even forgiven my father.”
“Lizzie, I forgave your parents because God forgave me.”
“What did he forgive you for, you’re not a bad person?”
“In God’s sight, Lizzie, we are all sinners, even you. Did you know, that if you tell one lie, you’re a liar? And the Bible says that all liars have their part in the Lake of Fire. And we’ve all done so much more then simply lying. Disobeying our parents, and dishonoring God, are both sin as well in God’s sight. We have all done these terrible sins, and many more. And because of them, we all deserve to go to Hell. We are all just as guilty as your father,” Edward said, trying to help her see that he felt himself to be just as guilty as Bernard.
“But Uncle Edward, I’ve done all of those bad things that you said. God isn’t going to send me to hell, is He?”
“Lizzie, we all deserve hell. Compared to a Righteous God, even our good things that we do, are like filthy rags in his sight.”
“ I don‘t want to go to hell.”
“Well Lizzie, God didn’t want us to go to hell either. So, He sent His Son to take our punishment. His Son, Jesus, became a man, and lived a perfect life, then He let some men kill Him. He didn’t have to, but He knew that if he didn’t shed his innocent blood, we couldn’t be forgiven. God put all of the wrath that should have been on us, on His Son, and Jesus paid the price for our sins. All we have to do to receive His forgiveness, is to ask Him to forgive us. We need to be sorry for our sin, and ask Him to forgive us, and He will.”
“So, I‘m just suppose to ask, and He will forgive me, and then I can go to Heaven?”
“Yes, Lizzie. He will forgive you, if you only ask him.” Edward watched, as she bowed her head, and received God’s forgiveness with all of her childlike faith. When she raised her face, her eyes were glowing, and she threw her arms around him.
“He forgave me. I love Him for it! I love everyone for it! I think I can even forgive Father.” She spent the rest of the trip, with ceaseless questions, which Edward, gladly answered.
They spent the night with farmer Phil, and then started the next morning with fresh horses. When they got to the end of the lane, at Bell Flower Manor, and stopped at the gate, the gatekeeper wouldn’t let him in, instead, he took the sleigh himself. Edward leaned against the gate, and tried to decide whether or not to go home, or stay. It was already Christmas, and he couldn’t be home by night. He stared across the yard, and became overwhelmed by memories. He sank to the ground, and a great sob shook his body. He thought of his parents, what would they think of him if they could see him now. A simple pauper, struggling to survive, and forbidden to enter his own home. As he knelt in the snow, a boy came running up.
“Lady Isabel sends for you, Sir,” he said, opening the gate. Edward stood to his feet, and followed the boy. He felt so awkward walking down the corridor of his old home, all the servants looked down, or away, or anywhere except at him. He felt like he knew the place well, and yet, he was a stranger there. He was led to the Master bedroom, where Isabel, lay sick, and dying. Lizzie held one of her hands, and Edward walked around the bed and raised her other hand to his lips.
“Edward, I know I don’t have the right to ask, but will you please take care of my Lizzie, when I’m gone. It wasn’t her fault that you were sent away,” she whispered feebly. Edward saw such pain in her eyes that he couldn’t have been angry if he had tried.
“Lady Isabel, I forgave you long ago, and as long as I live, you, and your daughter, will always be cared for.”
“I wish I had known you better. You’re so kind. But don’t call me Lady. You’re the Master of this place. Take your estate, and run it like Father would have wanted it run.”
“I will, Isabel. I will.”
The moments in that room were golden, as Edward shared with Isabel, how God had forgiven him, and how he wanted to forgive her as well. Isabel accepted the gift of salvation, and then passed on into eternity.
Edward did indeed take his estate, and ran it with true love. The old gatekeeper that wouldn’t let him in, still holds his post, as well as all the other servants that wronged Master Edward. But he had completely forgiven them. And because of his love for them, many of them became Christians as well. He brought his Emma home, and gave her, her real title of lady, and dressed her in the finest silk. There was never any doubt in anyone’s mind, that he had learned to be humble, when he lived as a servant. He always conducted himself with ease, and grace, and always meant every need brought to his attention. Lizzie, learned to love him as a father, and he loved her right back. In years to come, Master Edward, and his family always thanked God for every trial that was sent their way. And for the rest of his life, he laid up treasure, not on this earth, but in heaven.