By: Staci Stallings
Not too long after I really found Jesus (or He really found me), as I began to surrender to Him and His love for me, I found something I’m not sure I was even looking to find. Very precisely, I found that God had forgiven me for so much that I could not find it in my heart to condemn anyone else. That’s not to say I’m perfect at forgiving or that I never get angry at injustices–just that I see what God’s mercy and love did for me, and I want that for everyone.
The other day I was talking with a friend of mine who owes me some money. By “some,” I mean a very small amount. She is very concerned about this amount and often mentions that when this or that happens, she hopes to have enough to pay me back. I totally understand this from her perspective. I certainly do not like feeling that I owe anyone anything. But it’s interesting being on my side of the situation. You see, that amount is hardly worth bothering about for me. In fact, until and unless she mentions it, it’s forgotten to me.
I learned long ago that I’m the child of the God of the Universe. He’s going to take care of me. He asks that I take the steps He’s asking me to take, like helping my friend out. He doesn’t even require me to be perfect even in this, but as I am obedient, I can see the abundant, overflowing blessings He pours into my life. So I’m not really looking at her “debt” to me. I’m much more focused on His provision flowing into and through my life. The truth is, whether she ever “pays me back” or not, I have already been “paid” by Him over and abundantly, so much that I cannot hold it all.
Furthermore, over the years I have done many things for her that others would have charged for. Not a small amount, but a large amount. Tamped down and still overflowing. Not because of my goodness, but because of the goodness God has sent into my life. How could I withhold the help He wants to give her through me? I could not.
So the other day when she started talking about how she was going to send me that money “as soon as,” I just shook my head.
How many days, minutes, years did I make that same stupid deal with God? “God, really, I’m going to pay You back for the forgiveness. I’m going to make it up to You.” Even if I could pay back this one small amount, He has done so much for me that this pittance looks stupid to even try to pay back.
And the truth is, I could not make it all up to Him if I worked night and day for thousands and thousands of years. How do you pay back eternity? How do you pay back forgiveness and mercy and love? How do you pay back for Him rescuing your soul but even more your life from the rotten, wicked, miserable place you were at?
It’s impossible. And I’m sure all those times, He smiled and shook His head at me as I made all those futile “bargains.”
So today as I edited a manuscript by a young man who’s got more answers because of the pain that he’s gone through than most people gain in a lifetime, God hit me with another reminder of this very lesson. In the story, one character has done something despicable and has come to see his action as despicable. He has repented and now wants to get on the right track. His “savior” brings him to the body of a friend-enemy who has died. This man taught the young man all the wrong lessons and represents his own old life. He has died, and his body was just left to rot.
It is a disgusting scene, but then my young friend who wrote it nailed me between the eyes when the “savior” tells the young man who has decided to change that until he learns to that we’re all sick, we’re all desperately in need of forgiveness, the sickness will be viral in his life–that to judge the friend-enemy as wrong while holding ourselves “higher” is to not comprehend that we are all afflicted with that sickness. It is only in seeing the humanity of our enemies that we learn we are not better than them. There is, in the end, no difference between us at all. We are all sick and in need of a healer. We all have a debt we cannot pay.
We all need a Savior.
When you can embrace that truth for your own, when you can see that “yes, sin was winning in my life and it is only because Christ saved me that I am whole”–not through our own effort, not because we are better than anyone else…. When you can see that, accept it, and embrace it as your reality, at that point, you begin to be truly free.
I may not have written this so you can understand it. Putting it into words seems so very insignificant to how it feels in my heart. But I pray that you will find this key for your life because when you find it, you will never again be the same. God does not hide it from those who seek it, but He will not force it upon you either. It is always and in every moment your choice. Choosing to remember it is life–God’s life, here and now, in this very moment.
You, like everyone else, has a debt you can never pay. God has been merciful on you and loves you anyway, and so He does with everyone else.