Remembering Clifford Oxedine
(Sermon Notes) by Warren Zehrung 4/24/2021
Clifford Oxedine’s Obituary was not in the papers nor online. Clifford had no internet presence – not even email. He did not use Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or any of the other media platforms.
I will share Clifford Oxedine’s Obituary with you. An obituary is usually at the end of someone’s life – but it is a good place for us to start to get to know Clifford.
Our brother in Christ, Clifford Oxedine, age 76, a native of Ferriday, La., and a resident of Patterson, La., passed away on Sept. 4, 2020 at Terrebonne General Hospital in Houma, La. Clifford enjoyed fishing, traveling (especially to the Feast), debating, history and spending time with his family and friends.
He loved to tell his childhood stories and had a contagious smile and laugh. He had a strong faith in God and loved to read his Bible. He especially loved spending time with his grandson Luke Chauvin.
Those survivors left to cherish his memory are his three children, Randy Oxedine and wife Dawn, Andy Oxedine, and Letha Oxedine, and their mother, Jenny; he also leaves one sister, Polly Oxidine Olwell. (Birth certificate spelling)
He was preceded in death by his parents Ebb and Lillie Mae (Haigler) Oxedine, his brothers and sisters, Ebb Jr., David, Dan, Bobbie Paul, and Betty Bone. Clifford’s sister, Bobbie, died the same week that Clifford died. Betty was killed in a car wreck in 1976 – she was a beautiful lady. (Beauty is a trait of the Oxedine women.)
In a family-only private hill-top interment, Clifford was laid to rest at the feet of his parents, Ebb and Lillie Mae Oxedine in the Harrisonburg Cemetery, Catahoula Parish, Harrisonburg, La.
A Native American Cherokee (with some Choctaw), Clifford was placed in a ruthless and pitiless orphanage at the age of 5. He never complained about pain or discomfort.
Born July 8, 1944 he died unexpectedly of colon cancer. Clifford’s 3 children, together at his grave side, were a loving testimony and legacy to Clifford’s life. Randy Oxedine gave the eulogy.
Clifford never knew the love of a mother. She died of cancer before Clifford was 2. Clifford loved God, the Bible and God’s people. His dad, Ebb, was born 1896, ran away from home when he was 12, and died in 1960 while Clifford was a teenager. He made a good living as a lumber-jack in a sawmill.
The Offshore Oil Well
Before telling you about Clifford’s youth, I want to relay an incident that took place when Clifford was first being called by God over 50 years ago. Clifford was a welder by trade, and had been hired by a big oil company to work on one of its off-shore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Oil platforms are huge structures sitting in deep ocean waters. Clifford had just learned about God’s Sabbath and was determined that he was going to begin observing it.
Late one Friday afternoon, Clifford’s boss directed him to a large deck hanging out over the ocean where some welding was needed. Clifford told his boss, I can’t work past sunset. His boss said, “It won’t take you long – get going on it.”
Clifford told me he was hurrying to finish – but the sun was going down fast. “It was my first test to see whether I would obey God or man.” There was a beautiful sunset on the western horizon with the final golden red rays of the sun bouncing off every wave. Clifford was tempted – “It won’t take me very much longer to finish welding.”
When the sun was about to disappear below the horizon – Clifford quit in the middle of a welding pass, grabbed his welding leads, shield and equipment and headed back to the main platform.
Clifford told me that as he stepped off that deck and onto the main floor of the oil rig he heard a loud crash – and the entire huge deck on which he had been working – plummeted a hundred feet into the ocean waves below.
“Five more seconds, and I would have been dead,” Clifford told me. It was a gift from God. My employers may have found me to have an unreasonable attitude, and even recalcitrant – obstinately uncooperative toward their authority – but, I was never even tempted to break God’s Holy Sabbath again! “I would have died right there – seconds later – had I not kept the Sabbath!”
Clifford’s mother died and his dad could not take care of children. He sent money to the orphanage for their care. Dan and Bobbie were old enough and did not need to be sent to the orphanage. In 1946-47 St Joseph’s home was new and began taking in orphans. A Catholic orphanage, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word were asked to operate the school by Bishop Charles P. Greco. St. Frances Cabrini Church in Alexandria, LA. was Established in 1947. St. Frances Cabrini School was established on September 8, 1948,
I started in the 1st grade in 1948 the year that the school was opened. I was 5 years old. I met Clifford the following year. Clifford’s sister, Polly, from St. Joseph’s Home/Orphanage was in the same grade I was in – we were classmates through grammar school. Clifford came the following year.
Clifford and I grew up in the same town and went to the same school. We became life-long close friends. Ironically, we were called into God’s Church unbeknownst to one another – Clifford first, and then me. That orphanage was torn down and removed entirely in 1992 – there is only a vacant field there today.
Clifford’s Youth – the Formative Years
In one incident at St. Joseph’s home, Clifford was waxing the floors using a large buffer-type floor polisher. He bumped a stand almost toppling the figurine of some saint. He caught the statue and saved it. But because of his clumsiness, he was back-handed. Sister Anthony struck his neck and ear with the back of her hand – staggering Clifford. She kept on beating him… His ear was cracking and ringing…
Clifford’s sister, Betty, happened upon the nun’s assault and went toe-to-toe with the Sister in Clifford’s’ defense – pushing the nun who fell down the stairs – breaking her leg. Polly was also saved by Betty. Betty ran away and escaped – hitch-hiking away to a boarding school, never to return.
How many times had Clifford learned the lesson that no one was interested in his pain? No one in authority was interested in their problems? His dad, Ebb, said. “I know the Sisters of Charity must be doing their best. Those nuns were just frustrated ladies,” Ebb replied. “They didn’t have children of their own, and they didn’t know how to handle them.”
Non-the-less, children were physically and psychologically abused. Clifford told me the story many times. I saved every card and letter that Clifford sent to me.
Here is the story of the background of my stay in St. Joseph’s Home in Alexandria. I arrived there in December 26, 1949. I was five years old. Mark Rambin came in that same day, he came in the late evening. My older sisters and my brother David were already there. They arrived in late August in order to start school for September.
I learned early on that St. Joseph’s Home was more like a military camp. We slept in Dormitories. The Boys, on the right and the girls on the left. All lights were out at 8:00 PM. None dared to talk or make a sound. If you did, the nun would come in and whip you with a belt. At 5:30 AM the lights were turned on, we got dressed and cleaned up for 6:00 o’clock Mass. After Mass we all marched single file to the dining room for breakfast. Monday thru Friday we got oatmeal. Sunday we got dry cereal cornflakes. After breakfast, we had bed check. Anyone who wet the bed would strip down in their underwear with the urine sheet wrapped around their bodies, stand outside the home in the rear of the Home, barefooted. When it was time to go to school, you got about ten minutes to get dressed and go to school. Never mind about taking a shower. You shouldn’t have wet the bed. What about the children who couldn’t control their bladder? Too Bad! Tough luck!
We were very religious. We had Mass every day. We would pray before meals and after meals, and we had confession on Saturday.
I would like to devote this paragraph to my sister, Polly. Sister Elinior noticed that Polly had a talent for playing the piano. She would drill Polly constantly. Practice, practice. When Polly wasn’t in school she was at the piano. She would play for Mass and school events. Polly was top of her class. When Polly was leaving St. Joseph’s, Sister Elinior came up and told Polly that she had pushed her really hard, but she could go on to a career in Concert’s or teaching. Polly replied, “When I leave here, I will never look at a piano as long as I live. (Polly told me that she not only hated the piano, she even hated to hear piano music.) About sixteen years later, Polly was working for a rich Dentist, Dr. Barolotta in Morgan city, La. He had a new piano in the hallway of his house. He asked Polly if she knew how to play? She said she did. Jokingly, she said, “Chopsticks?” Sure, “What do you want to hear?” He threw the name of some classical number at her. She replied, “Which key do you want it in?” “OK, miss smart,” he named it, and Polly went to playing. He had never heard that piano sound so beautiful. He asked Polly if she wanted the piano. She didn’t care! He delivered it to her house, where it stayed on the carport for three weeks. Neighbor came to visit, and asked Polly why isn’t that beautiful Piano in her living room? Polly answered, “If you want it, then take it.” (That is how painful the memories of St. Joseph’s were to Polly.)
Another time, I was about six-years-old, they served Buttermilk with our dinner meal. I loved Buttermilk, I was raised on a farm. It did not agree with Charles Hart. He asked me if I wanted his. I swapped my empty drinking cup for his full one. Sister Anthony came up and knocked me off my stool, and forced Charles to drink his buttermilk. Charles vomited. Sister Anthony grabbed Charles by the back of the neck, and with a half-circle, she spun around and shoved Charles into a steel railing side of the wood cabinets. It caught his forehead. He bled three hours before they could stop the bleeding. They washed the blood off his face and changed his clothes. Sister Anthony walked Charles up to Cabrini Hospital (a block up Texas avenue.) The nurse who was on duty asked Charles, “How did it happen?” Charles replied that Sister had pushed him. Of course, she denied it. Who would believe a little skinny boy over a Godly Nun? When Charles got back, he got a whipping for telling the truth.
Charles had an older brother, who was much taller and better built. His name was Eugene. Eugene ran away. They both were form New York City. Eugene stowed away on a ship going to London. They discovered him hiding. They treated him like royalty! He stayed in the Captain’s Quarter’s, he ate really well. And had the freedom to walk about the ship. Poor Eugene, he had a rude awakening at his return to St. Joseph’s Home.
Do you remember Father Girard Ducote? He was a big strong man like yourself, Warren. They made us all to watch. They stripped Eugene of all his clothes. Made him lay across the bed. One Nun held his hands, while the other two Nuns held down each leg. Father Girard Ducote got a thick belt, stood over the young boy, raised his hands high over his head as far as he could reach, and come down as hard as he could on Eugene’s back and butt. I don’t know how many stripes he received. It is a wonder that Eugene survived. For two months Eugene scrubbed the floors with a brush, on his hands and knees. I do remember this! The good news of this is their mother came and picked them up. (Escaped!)
Some were beaten regularly. What made all this so strange, was when someone asked you how you were treated, and you would tell them, no one would believe you. I had a hard time convincing my own daddy. I guess in the later years he finally saw the fruits and understood that they were not Godly.
Looking back, understanding God’s Plan, I would not be in God’s Church today (except for my experiences there.) Of course, anybody could look up the Inquisition and see for themselves. I know that God protected me. I did not receive the punishment that was carried out on some of the children.
While I was there, I had a reoccurring dream. Three times: I went into the hall at the foot of the stairs – I saw children were chased and beaten up. Someone said, “Don’t go upstairs.” I went anyway – that is where the chapel was. The next thing, I was chased around, but they could not catch me. I would dodge and skip. No matter what it was as if I was having a good time. Finally as I was running down the stairs things were getting more dangerous. Someone said If I would go outside through those double doors, I would be safe. And I did. The moment I was outside there was peace all around. I wanted to go back inside and tell everyone to follow me outside. The moment I would open the door they had a thousand hands and hairy paws trying to grab me and pull me back inside. I interpreted that as I was to get away and stay away. (Come out of her my people.) I have to run now.
With Christian love,
There were some wonderful moments also: As far as I know, St. Joseph’s home had no school anthem. I think the children adopted the song, “Somewhere over the Rainbow” as a vision of their escaping detention there. Picture if you would, a bunch of parentless children gathered together – sitting on the floor and listening – no hope – no future…
There were two girls from the home – Patricia Middleton and her younger sister – the Middleton sisters – who sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow” with such feeling that it would move you to tears, and make Judy Garland envious.
They were so exceptional they were allowed to perform at my school next door… I was 11 or 12 at the time – and I recall them vividly – I was moved. God created emotions to be used properly – sometimes soaring to great heights, and yet kept in proper check – not hysterically high or despondently low. I can still see and hear the Middleton sisters singing.
“Somewhere over the rainbow, Way up high, And the dreams that you dream of, Once in a lullaby, oh, Somewhere over the rainbow, Bluebirds fly, And the dreams that you dream of, Dreams really do come true-ooh-ooh, Someday I’ll wish upon a star, Wake up where the clouds are far behind me, Where trouble melts like lemon drops, High above the chimney tops that’s where, You’ll find me, oh”
It still brings tears to my eyes…
Clifford was different from many folks – but he did not know that he was different. Clifford was distinct from most of us. Clifford was an enigma –
When I was a child we raised chickens. Someone gave us a duck egg which we placed under a setting hen. When they all hatched out – all the chickens could see that the duck was different. But when the duck looked around the chicken yard – all he could see was chickens – and he concluded that he too was a chicken like all the others.
Clifford knew that he had repressed memories from his youth along with things too hurtful to think about. When someone encounters abuse beyond what the mind can accept there is a mental process that can repress those painful experiences from the conscious mind and memory. Often times, victims also wish to suppress the painfully embarrassing past. Those memories sometimes resurface when the victims find a safe haven. I know and spoke with two siblings, a brother and sister, former residents of St. Joseph’s home and two of Clifford’s children – (Letha and Andy)
Clifford was kind, generous to a fault, determined that he would never compromise God’s way. Clifford’s marriage failed, mainly for financial reasons – he had a wonderful wife who was wasting away. The pain and suffering was unbearably excruciating for both of them.
Some of the residents of St. Joseph’s orphanage were subjected to brutal torments. Like severe beatings, and the humiliation of being made to stand for hours barefooted, wrapped in their urine stained sheet for all to see.
Clifford never knew the love of a mother. People on the outside trusted the priests and the nuns in their care of the orphans.
Clifford’s sister went on to marry after being moved from orphanage to orphanage. She told me that she hated the orphanage – and hated being known as an orphan – which she said, “I was not an orphan – I had a daddy.” Clifford’s sister, for the first time – really opened up and confided in me – after all we’ve known each other for more than 70 years – since the 1940s – and if she couldn’t tell me, who could she tell?”
Clifford’s sister told me, “When I married I never told my husband that I had been raised in an orphanage.” “I was too ashamed and too embarrassed to admit it to him.” She told me that just a few years ago someone very close to her died – and everyone was crying – sobbing hard at the loss of a close dear friend. “Not me, I wasn’t crying,” she said, “I never shed a single tear – I couldn’t.” “It was not within me to do so. And I got to thinking, “There is something seriously missing in me.” “There is something wrong with me.” “Everyone around me is crying their eyes out – and I do not feel a thing!”
Clifford’s sister said to me, “I was ruined for life. I realized that I was hard — hard, and could not cry.” She was pushed to the edge emotionally — and yet, she could not cry.” She said, “My heart was frozen.”
At 80 years of age, decades and generations later, she described her orphanage experience as the most gut wrenching time of her life – leaving her scarred for life. She said, “I finally realized that I had to forgive my hatred of St. Joseph’s home.” She told me just last week, “Warren, I’m finally doing a little better; I’ve begun to cry a little bit.”
Brethren, God has given us 70 or 80 years to live.
Psalm 90:10 (A prayer of Moses) The days of our years are threescore years and ten (70); and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years (80), yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
I’m beginning to wonder if 70 or 80 years is sufficient time to tie up all the loose ends of life, to take care of unresolved details, and make peace with everyone that we should. Clifford and his younger brothers and sisters were “survivors” of St. Joseph’s home for orphans.
Let me share with you a similar case where Church brethren were greatly in need of the support and comfort of their brothers and sisters in the faith. There was a lady at church – a nice looking lady. To look at her, you would never know that she was a battered woman, the wife of a molesting alcoholic husband. That lady had a teenage daughter who would clutch her sheet in the middle of the night when her privacy was encroach upon.
Let me ask you a question, brethren, “Who does a young lady cry out to when her own father rapes her, and her own mother is powerless to do anything about it.” The next Sabbath would come, and mother and daughter would be there, with the same strained and artificial smiles on their faces that they always wore. Those kinds of abuse were not spoken of in polite company – and who would want to open a can of worms anyway. The young lady grew up – and is it any surprise that her own marriage failed?
Leviticus 5 tells us that we become accomplices to crimes like that when we become aware and do nothing to rescue the victims. God says the iniquity falls upon us for doing nothing to help.
Leviticus 5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
There is a popular song with the lyrics: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Each Sabbath when we go to services we are all anxious to see our long-time friends and catch up on the news of the week. It is so good to see familiar happy faces. There is nothing wrong with that.
But, could we have gotten into a rut and forgotten what some of the other purposes are for our gathering ourselves together? It is true, we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves – especially as we see the day of Jesus Christ’s return approaching (Hebrews 10:25).
But we are also told why we get together and what we are to be doing when we do convene with brethren. It is for a greater reason than we think. We are there, not for ourselves alone, but basically, for others. We cannot neglect the exhorting and encouraging of one another to buckle down and show love and perform Christian actions.
Not just thinking and talking about doing something, but getting down to the business of making a difference in the lives of the brethren:
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
If we would all be doing that, we would be off to a good start. However, after many years, we have become so set in our ways. We greet the same people, and we hang around with those in our comfort zone. Some people have no room in their lives except for those who think and believe just as they do.
The purpose of today’s sermon is to stir us to action to begin to include those brethren who are a little harder to get to know. They are a little different – a little diverse – and we will never know why they are that way until we close the distance between them and us – and literally draw it out of them.
It will not happen until they totally trust us with their deepest and most vulnerable feelings. And that takes a lot of work on our part. Have you ever noticed that when one of the brethren has died, and someone says something remarkable about that person’s life – you find yourself saying, “I did not know that about them.”
There is an old proverb that says, “When an old person dies, a library burns.” But, books on shelves don’t tell stories. It is People who are a true treasure trove of stories and experiences. Usually, it’s not until we’re older that we appreciate the wisdom in the libraries of those who have touched our lives. They had much to teach us about life and about ourselves if we had only provided the opportunity through which their wisdom and experiences could be shared.
Clifford Oxedine was like that. A longtime member of God’s Church, he could tell life changing stories and share his incredible experiences for hours. But first, you had to get to know Clifford and his background. He was unassuming and inconspicuous – never seeking the limelight or to be the focus of attention.
Clifford was called by God back in the days of the Radio Church of God. On January 5, 1968, the Radio Church of God was renamed the Worldwide Church of God. Clifford began attending the Feast of Tabernacles in Big Sandy when there were 15,000 in attendance, and growing at the rate of 30% a year. And, Clifford attended the Feast every year since – until he couldn’t go anymore – but few brethren noticed him. He attended the Feast all over the country, so there is a good chance that you might have bumped shoulders with him.
But, there are very few who actually knew Clifford well. Actually, it was not so much that Clifford was unassuming and inconspicuous, as it was his reserved nature. He was not a man pleaser, seeking the approval of men above the approval of God. But, to most people, Clifford was a stranger, and somehow, not all that important to get to know.
To know Clifford, it was necessary that you be ready to devote some time and energy to the relationship. Brethren, Clifford is gone now, but the purpose in remembering Clifford Oxedine is to demonstrate what we are missing out on when we do not fully appreciate those saints in our midst. When you hear his story, you wish that you had known him and befriended him.
My specific purpose in giving this sermon is to cause you to want to seek out others in the congregation and get to know them really well. Like Clifford, they have been there for years and years.
I can tell Clifford’s story now that he is dead and gone—but he is not really dead and gone. He is asleep with all the saints of God in Hebrews 11—awaiting his final redemption in Christ, Jesus.
Believe it or not, everyone has a wonderful story to share – if we would only give ear. Within God’s Church, we tend to “hang out” with the same people year after year – neglecting to expand our circle of fellowship – all to our detriment and loss.
God tells us that the qualifying mark of His people is their distinctive love for one another.
Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory:
Matthew 25:32 And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats:
Matthew 25:33 And He shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Brethren, Clifford is looking forward to the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Was Clifford a stranger to you?
Jesus will be saying that I was hungry, thirst and needy – but we know the story – don’t we?
Jesus is going to surprisingly turn the table on us and tell us that we will be judged on how we cared about – – well, people like Clifford.
Matthew 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Matthew 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
Matthew 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Matthew 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Speaking carnally, I think that would be a good illustration of Clifford – the “least of these my brethren.”
I never heard anyone refer to Clifford as, Mr. Oxedine, despite his honorable conduct and senior years.
Spiritually speaking, Clifford was a treasure trove to all who knew and loved him.
My title, “Remembering Clifford Oxedine,” is ambiguous at best, in that there are very few church members who actually remember Clifford.
Brethren, could it possibly be that we have been respecters of persons?
James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
You do not have the faith of Jesus Christ if you are a respecter of persons.
James 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
James 2:3 And you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
James 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He has promised to them that love him?
James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
James 2:7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:
James 2:9 But if you favor some people over others, ye commit sin, and are convicted of the law as transgressors.
Wow, that is hard not to do. Clifford never forgot a name – he would often mention kids form our shared childhood – recalling startling details. Clifford had a strong faith in God. He loved spending time with his grandson Luke Chauvin. My favorite photo of Clifford is in an orange orchard with Luke – pulling his little wagon load of oranges.
Clifford frequently visited the elderly church brethren in convalescent homes. How many people wish that they had known Clifford better? There are many elderly among God’s people that are easily dismissed and overlooked. It is a known fact that the elderly are practically invisible to young people because they are thought to be of no relevance at all.
Clifford’s brother-in-law (82) called me a couple of times after Clifford died. He said, “You liked Clifford, didn’t you.” I said, “Yes I did.” He said, “I didn’t on with Clifford – what did you like about him?” You see, to those in the world, Clifford could appear obstinate and hard. Some snooty folks thought of Clifford as a non-entity. He was not that important. The important thing was that Clifford was known of God (Galatians 4:9), and God still has great Plans for him.
Galatians 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God…
Those people were not able to understand Clifford’s steadfastness, commitment, and resoluteness to God’s Way. Clifford’s faith was unwavering. Clifford was a forgotten child – or, never thought of in the first place.
We may find ourselves under the power of sickness, or an oppressive relationship, or some other circumstance from which we would like to be rescued. Because of our access to God, we can ask for redemption, we can ask to be spared, we can ask to be saved, which those in the world who do not know God, cannot do.
But God does not always redeem us from every such circumstance because it may bring about something better in us. God redeemed Daniel from the lions, but not from Medo-Persia as a whole—he remained under its power. God redeemed Paul from blindness, but not from the power of his thorn in the flesh, because that circumstance was of spiritual benefit to Paul, even though it was constant source of irritation.
God tells us what He is most interested in redeeming us from in Titus 2:14: His desire is to redeem us from every sin. Not just from the law’s curse, but from the evil deeds themselves. He wants to rescue us from sin and purify us.
Titus 2:14 Our Savior Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Clifford awaits a future Redemption:
The Scriptures also speak of redemption in the future, again applied in various ways. Physical Israel and Judah will not only be redeemed from oppressing Gentile powers, but more importantly, they will be brought into the New Covenant, and thus redeemed in the same way the Church has been redeemed. But for those of us already in Christ, like Clifford Oxedine, our future redemption is significantly different:
Romans 8:23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
What is that about brethren? The redemption of the body is when these bodies that are sown in corruption are raised in incorruption, and death is swallowed up in victory. We will then have a nature suitable for inheriting the Kingdom of God, and will be fully manifest as God’s children—the eternal Children of God. Thus, even though we have been redeemed, we are also waiting for redemption.
The redemption of our body describes God’s final deliverance, not simply from the law’s curse, but from this flesh that houses the law of sin and death that leads us to break God’s law. Consider that our redemption from the death penalty does not automatically make us worthy of immortal life. Just because my sin had been totally removed—that does not purchase eternal life for me.
Without a complete replacement of our sinful human nature, we would defile God’s Kingdom as soon as we inherited it. We would leave muddy tracks across the floor of His eternal throne room. This is the reason for Paul’s statement in 1Corinthians 15:50 that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.” Not only will Clifford’s scars, pain and abuse be healed, they will be removed and forgotten forever.
Ephesians 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest [down payment] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
We, brethren, are the purchased possession, bought with the blood of the Son of God, and God has given us His Spirit to seal us until our future redemption. God’s earnest or token down payment of His Holy Spirit indicates a small, initial portion, and a much larger portion will come later with our final redemption, assuming we remain faithful until the end.
Our Future Redemption is nearer than we think.
Our future total redemption will come with the return of Jesus Christ. And that is soon – just around the corner.
Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
You can see the tsunamis running to and fro, and wiping out hundreds of millions of people well inland from the sea.
Luke 21:26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
A fear that we have never witnessed before.
Luke 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
That redemption is more wonderful and stupendous than we can imagine. That redemption will wipe out every pain, every hurt, every harsh memory. We will be glorious as God is glorious.
1John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.
This shows clearly that our redemption comes at our change or resurrection at Christ’s return, when He will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, and mortality will be swallowed up by life. Jesus Christ will get rid of everything vile, terrible and awful.
Philippians 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.
At that point, we will be redeemed from the power of everything that yet holds an oppressive power over us; horrific memories of past injustices; ill health; the first death; the second death, or the corrupt nature inside of us that Christ is continuing to redeem us from.
We have been redeemed from the law’s curse, we are continuing to be redeemed, but we are still waiting for our final redemption. With the New Covenant, redemption is a spiritual process that will not be completed until the Kingdom of God.
As Jesus continues His works of creation and redemption in our lives, we have been redeemed, yet we are also waiting our final redemption.
But, this life does not consist of the things we have – Clifford had almost no possessions… When he died, his residence – not worth a penny – was bull-dozed to the ground – a worthless habitation. Clifford had nothing. This life consists of the people we know and love—and the truth of God that has been given to us. You can never have too many friends. You can never have too many brothers and sisters in the faith.
We should know every one of them, we should love every one of them, we should hear and know all the stories from their library of life. There were many times in Clifford’s life when he could have benefited from more brothers and sisters in the faith. Shame on us – they just were not there.
But, brethren, it is not too late. Today, there are still many unassuming brethren in God’s Church who could benefit from more brothers and sisters in the faith. If you find yourself saying, I wish I had known Clifford—so that I could remember Clifford Oxedine—it is not too late. There are many. They may be in the back of the hall or over on the side, like a wall flower waiting to make your acquaintance. They might not be able to make it to Sabbath services any more. Look them up, it is not too late.
Brethren, a special note of prayer:
Clifford’s daughter-in-law, Dawn Oxedine (49), is dying of cancer as we speak. She is in horrific pain. Please pray for Dawn and her husband, Randy.
End: Remembering Clifford Oxedine