Paid in Full – an Epiphany

There are moments in life when we figure something out and the knowledge sets us free. We sometimes call this an epiphany.

I had one of those things this week. If you owe someone a lot of money and you can’t pay even part of it back, you’re not going to be excited to see them. But one day, a man in similar circumstances (we’ll call him Ray) received a summons to appear before someone from whom he’d borrowed a large sum of money (we’ll call this guy Arnie). Arnie had a business to run after all, and needed his money back. Ray dreaded the appointment because he didn’t have the money to repay the debt. The time came for him to go to the meeting with Arnie and knowing he couldn’t get out of it, he went.

On the way, he contemplated, what is the worst that could happen? Well, at that particular time in history, the worst could be death or imprisonment. Or, Ray and/or his family could be sold into servitude to pay his debt. Which is exactly what happened. When Ray told Arnie he couldn’t pay, Arnie got mad, slammed his fist on his desk and promptly called for his minions to take Ray and his entire family and sell them. Sell them. Slavery. The money made on the sale would pay off the debt.

Yikes. Ray was pretty upset. This was not one of those seven-year indenture kicks, it was life. Not just for him, but his whole family, too. Ray fell on his face in front of Arnie and began to weep. “I’m so sorry! I’ve been an idiot. Please forgive me, and allow me a bit more time to come up with the money.”

Arnie was smart enough to know that a man like Ray would have a really hard time coming up with the amount of the debt, which was great by the day’s standards. Years of compounded interest had ballooned the original sum. But Ray’s humility as he sobbed like an infant, lying on the floor, touched Arnie’s heart. “Get up, Ray. Today’s your lucky day. I’m going to let you off the hook.”

Ray stood, blew his nose and wiped away the tears. “When do you need payment? I’ll get it somehow.”

“No,” Arnie said. “You don’t understand. I’m letting you completely off the hook. You don’t owe anything.” He picked up the paper that Ray had signed, tore it in two and tossed it on the fire. “The debt is paid in full.”

Ray was speechless. Once again, tears ran down his bearded cheeks, obscuring his view of Arnie. He swallowed a grapefruit-sized lump in his throat, and pushed out a word of thanks. Confused and kind of in shock, he backed out of the office and started home. Then it hit him. His debt was paid in full. He owed nothing. Zero. Naught. Zilch. He danced all the way home.

I am standing here today, free from debt. Set free from a load of debt I could never repay unless I’d won the lottery or. . .ok, that’s just silly. I have no debt. None. Zero. Zilch. Free. It feels good. I’d like to break into a song and dance routine, but it would scare the neighbors.

When someone pays a debt for you, a really big debt, after you recover from the shock and humility, you’re going to feel pretty good. Like Ray, you may want to dance. But one thing I would urge you to do: Do unto others. You’ve been forgiven, forgive others. No matter how big the debt incurred against you. Forgive. In complete forgiveness, there is true freedom.

I know this is a little different, but it comes from my heart. Thanks for reading.

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