Need Debt Forgiveness?

  What you don’t know can hurt you. You don’t know what you don’t know. By the time you learn, the fix-it boat may have sailed.  Want a real life example?

While training for my first half-marathon, I reached mile 12 and my right shin decided it simply was not going to keep up that pace. Off I went to physical therapy.

I didn’t know precisely what it would cost, but this was familiar territory. I’d taken my daughter to PT during her senior season of cross country. I chose a different therapist whose location was more convenient, plunked down my co-pays at each of 8 visits and never gave it a second thought.

Imagine my shock when the final bill arrived one month after the last session: $1200-plus. No itemized list of specific charges. Just a bill with a payment address and a note that failing to pay within 30 days would result in additional charges.

Who knew that a few half-hour therapy sessions could cost so much? You might say it was unwise not to consider the end from the beginning. And you’d be right.

I got my therapy, ran my race and claimed my trophy without once considering the ultimate cost of reaching the finish line. It never occurred to me that the price would exceed what I was prepared to pay.

I’m not alone in my lack of foresight.

Plenty of people go blithely through life completely unconcerned about the day of reckoning. Oh, we know we are mortal, that 100 percent of the living will die. Yet, we don’t prepare for our dying day.

We have our reasons.  We say, “When you’re dead, you’re done; so why worry?” Or we’re confident that when life’s bill comes due, our good deeds will cancel our bad debts. In the end, we assume everything will work out. Of course, the end is not an ideal time to find out.

Christianity favors complete disclosure: Dead is not done. “It is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgment.” Judgment sounds to me like settling accounts. We’re advised to “count the cost” on the front end of things so we know whether we have what it takes to pay the bill.

Lest we abandon all hope, Christianity offers debt forgiveness. You’ll probably see it advertised in the stands at next Sunday’s Super Bowl: a placard painted with John 3:16. This plan goes by several names: Substitutionary atonement. The Great Exchange. The Gospel.

Christ is our Advocate. He speaks in our defense, having satisfied our debt in full at the Cross. We walk away.

Whether you’re dealing with spiritual indebtness or an unbelievable bill for services rendered, learn from my mistake.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to understand your situation. The Bible says in all your getting, get understanding. If you seek counsel with your money, why not get some for your soul?

I recommend an Advocate. Works for me – body and soul. A health advocate resolved my physical therapy bill.  Final accounting: I actually owed about $400. That, my friend, is deliverance!

New Reality

   You live and your learn. Not every lesson is easy.

A complete stranger schooled me the other day in how easy it is to go from a salary of $60 an hour with bonuses and benefits to making $15 an hour with no vacation and no sick days.

Factor in the cost of driving to and from this new dead-end job, lunches and COBRA medical coverage (at quadruple the price previously paid as a regular employee) and this person was netting about 50 cents an hour. And they were glad to have it.

Nearly overnight, a family with a comfortable life and money in the bank could qualify for public aid – if they weren’t too proud to apply.

This, beloved, is the true New Reality.

People who once had very good jobs and spouses who stayed home now are stringing together low-paying part-time “opportunities” just to get by.

In line at Target I overheard a woman ask if there were any openings. Her sister had five (yep 5!) part-time jobs and was looking to land a single decent one.

Every day people no different from you or me are facing this new existence. Many are personal friends.

Well-educated people with hard-to-get certifications, stellar performance reviews and many years of loyal service to The Company. Some were managers who handed pink slips to their own teams only to be let go themselves in a matter of months.

In the midst of this economic carnage, I sometimes overhear the conversations of sheltered Christians who sound very secure and certain they have the answer for what ails this country: more fiscal responsibility and belt-tightening.

Meanwhile, they remodel homes, buy cars for their newly licensed teens, plan vacations to the make-believe world of Disney. These people’s lives seem magically untouched by the forces that rock their neighbors’ world.

Personally, having been unemployed, I’d like to see a little more Christian compassion for the hurting masses. I’d like to see less criticism and a little more weeping with those who weep.

I care about this because of something else I’ve learned by personal experience: A hard heart often is softened by personal suffering. And so, this word of caution:

Do not boast of tomorrow “for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”