Sunday, June 25, 2017

On What It Means to Be Redeemed: A Milestone in My Life

Prodigal Son by Rembrandt
(I saw in St. Petersburg, Russia). 
Yesterday, I was feeling kind of down after a difficult week, but I received a letter in the mail that changed my mood. I opened it, and it was a check for a modest sum of money. (I told you finding that pearl was a good sign; you can read about it HERE). 

I smiled. I showed it to my mother, and she asked,"How much is it for?"

I said, "That's not important. It's enough to pay off the last of my student loan."


"Yup. That's it. It's over. I'm free. Told you that pearl was good luck."

"Maybe, huh? Well, you're lucky to live with me. That's how you paid off your loans so quickly."

"That is true. I'm so glad it's over."

I looked at the check. I looked at it again. It wasn't because it was a large sum of money, no. But it was about the right amount I needed to pay off the last of my student loan. It represented my freedom, and I was so happy to feel free: Free at last. Debt really is bondage.

For five years, it's felt like a millstone around my neck. I remember leaving law school, wondering how am I going to pay off this huge loan (which stays with you until you die, because you can't file bankruptcy against it).

This morning, I thought about it. Really, with my student loans gone, my life reads like a Grimm's Fairy Tale. The fairy tale would go like this.

Once upon a time, two poor foreigners from another land married and had two children in the Wastelands. This Wasteland was so bad, all the children stayed poor when they grew up and never made it to a good school. And the family didn't have much money, but the father always worked extra hours so that his children had books to read. Even though they didn't read much, they always told their children to read.

When his son became a teenager, he realized that the only way out of this Wasteland was going to be for him to do better on examinations than the smart and rich kids all across the kingdom. So, he told himself this every day for four years. And, because his grades were so good, the state decided to pay for his entire undergraduate education. 

At the State Academy, he struggled at first, but worked very hard, competed and did well, receiving an education in literature and biology. 

Afterwards though, he decided he needed a break and lived in a foreign land for awhile. In the new land, they too gave him an education, a job in technology, and made him a subject to enjoy the benefits of the new land.

But, in the other kingdom, the state academy called him back and offered him a spot to study law. It was his dream to be a lawyer and go to a good jurist school. 
At the time, 8,000 students applied for 320 spots. He was picked.

Sadly although the school would pay some, he was going to have a heavy burden of debt. (Especially, because the legal job market was one of the worst in history.) In any event, he decided to go. Graduated. And took the state law exams and passed. But still had debt.

Upon passing the exams, he found the people running the Wastelands, where he grew up, to be terrible and corrupt administrators, oppressing and stealing from the people. But fighting them wasn't going to really make him any money. And he had a crisis of faith on how he was going to make a living, pay off his debt, learn lawyering, and challenge those in power. 

But in time, other people, like his fair godmother and godfathers, saw what the new lawyer was doing and supported him. So, in five years time of graduating, he was free from debt. 

And at this is the point, this is where we're at in this saga, which is still ongoing.

[To be continued . . .]

I'm just grateful I made it against all the odds. And I'm very grateful to be free and out of debt. I'm very grateful to the one who decided I was worth it to free me, not because of anything I've done, but because of his own goodness and kindness and forgiveness. In short, to be redeemed means that someone pays a price to buy you from the bondholder; so that you can be free and know what that feels like and is.

I wanted to end this post with a parable Jesus told that I'm reminded of. In Luke 7, a prostitute spends a great fortune on perfume and pours it on Jesus' feet and cleans his feet with her tears and hair. A teacher of the law sees this and is disgusted, because the woman's lifestyle made her filthy. (He's probably also upset that all that money went to waste.) The teacher of the law says, "If this man really were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him[.]"

So, Jesus asks his apprentice a question. He tells Simon that there are two who are in debt. One owes 500 silver coins. One owes 50 coins. Then asks Simon, who would be more grateful of being forgiven his debt? And Simon answers, obviously, the one who owed 500.

And Jesus then states, whoever has been forgiven of much loves much. Whoever has been forgiven of little loves little. Stop and think for a moment why would someone spend so much on perfume and do what she did.

Personally, I've been forgiven a lot; so, I need to remember that and show it more often.

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