My debt has been paid in full featured image
Adoption,  Soul

My Debt Has Been Paid In Full

I have been dreaming about writing this post for three years. This dream began mulling around my mind at a time when our hearts were shattered after the adoption we had been pursuing ended in tragedy. (You can read the full story here.) What I haven’t shared is that we have been fighting a legal battle regarding the debt incurred during this ordeal for three years. I spent many nights lying awake and praying that God would allow this debt to be cancelled as a faint shadow of what he did on the cross for us. Just when the situation seemed impossibly desperate our faithful Father intervened most miraculously.

The short version of the story is that a birth mom chose us to adopt but the birth resulted in tragedy and we had to decide to walk away from the adoption. A few months later, as we were finally moving on with our lives, we received a letter from the lawyers appointed by the hospital informing us that we would be held accountable for the full hospital account. Since we did not pursue the adoption the babies were not placed on our medical aid. The total bill was astronomical enough to be mistaken for a home loan. It seemed to be a cruel joke.

We appointed lawyers of our own to act on our behalf while we would be harassed almost daily for three years by the debt collectors appointed by pathologists and doctors who wanted their accounts paid, serving as a constant reminder of the trauma we had suffered. We did not dare to make any plans for the future, or even dream new dreams for our family, because of the sword hanging over our heads.

Under South African law, if a creditor has not admitted to or paid towards debt for 36 months, that debt prescribes (expires). We were counting down the months until December 2023 when this debt would expire, but we were not the only ones. The opposing lawyers knew the date was looming too. A few months before D-day we were informed that a draft summons would be issued against me for the hospital debt.

At that stage, I thought my only options were to either pay off the debt for the rest of my life or to go under sequestration, but God had other plans. Since the very first account arrived I prayed that God would write off this debt, but as it came closer to the edge of the cliff I thought maybe he had another plan and I would have to deal with the consequences.

My debt has been paid in full featured pinterest

My fear and hopelessness festered into debilitating anxiety. It was in this desperate state that I asked our pastor to pray for us so we could know which of the hopeless options to pursue. He told me not to give up hope and encouraged me to share our story with our church to pray for us. Writing down the events to share openly was excruciating, like cutting open an old wound on top of the scar tissue. Yet we had no choice. We prayed and trusted that God would do with our story what he thought best.

Our story was shared late one evening with our church family and messages of support came streaming in. Early the next morning a dear friend in faith asked me if they could share the details of our case with a contact at the hospital group in question. I was very nervous about permitting them, but things could not get any worse.

A little over twenty-four hours later the unthinkable happened. I received a phone call from the head of the hospital in question, apologizing for the whole situation and asking for forgiveness for putting us through the situation! He also informed me that the account would be written off. Our debt would be completely paid in full! I hesitated to believe it until I saw the account balance at 0. It was true!

Only God could change this desperate situation around in 48 hours. Only God could use acquaintances-turned-family to appeal our case, and only God could soften the hearts of ruthless millionaire businessmen to write off a significant amount of money.

A shadow of the ultimate payment

I’ve been meditating on what it would mean for my Heavenly Father to clear my debt for three years and this has changed my life. I know no amount of money could compare to my debt of sin, but if this astronomical financial debt caused me such anxiety, how much more should I rejoice in the debt of sin being paid on my behalf on the cross?

When Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, he compares sin to a legally owed debt due to God. As descendants of Adam, we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) not because of the bad things we have done, but because of our inherited sinfulness. Unlike most debts you and I can accrue on earth, the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Romans six verse twenty three

The only payment that will settle the debt of your and my sin is death. No amount of striving, working, loving others, being a good person, etc etc can pay off our debt. Since God is perfectly just and perfectly holy, he must demand full payment of our debt of sin. God would have been reasonable to let us live a regular human life on earth and then die an eternal death, but in his lovingkindness, he made a plan to save us, from himself by himself. Our Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who had no debt of sin, to die on our behalf, taking our punishment on him to pay our debt. In return, the flawless life of Jesus is credited to our “account”. Our account has been paid in full. This is the gospel – good news indeed!

by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:14
Colossians two verse fourteen

Take a moment to ponder this truth: we are nothing, we owe everything, and deserve to die. Yet we are given everything we don’t deserve, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

Living a gospel life

It is only when your eyes have been opened to the depravity of your sinfulness that you can begin to appreciate what Jesus has done for you on the cross. This truth should change you. If it doesn’t, you don’t get it. If this is indeed the best news you and I have ever heard, we should want to tell everyone we meet (Matthew 19-20). Do you genuinely love someone if you see them headed towards eternal death and you don’t tell them there is another infinitely better way?

The reality of the gift of justification should be evident in the lives of those whose debts have been paid. Out of gratitude, we should display love to everyone we meet. Our lives should radiate joy regardless of circumstances because we know our future is secure. We should want to make peace even with those who sin against us and treat our neighbour with patience, kindness and goodness. Our lives must testify of the love of God with faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the fruits of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23.

Galatians five verses twenty two to twenty three fruit of the Spirit

On the other hand, Jesus warns us about the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. If our lives reflect his example then we don’t grasp the value of the price that has been paid at Calvary. When others sin against us and we turn to strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, divisions, or envy, then we devalue what Christ has done on the cross. Through our actions, we declare that we think of ourselves as more important than God and our sinfulness is not such a big deal. Paul warns us in Galatians 5:19-21 “that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The fundamental foundation of the Christian heart must be that I am a worthless sinner who deserves death, and have no means to pay my debt of sin. In sin, I cannot have a relationship with God because he is perfectly holy. Christ paid for my sins in full on the cross as a free gift so my relationship with God can be restored. The love of Jesus must change the way I live my life completely – my decisions, relationships, what I value and who I want to please. If His love does not change me, then I don’t know Him. Suppose I stay the same then I am not a Christian. If I don’t feel compelled to change then I am not saved.

Dear friend, is this not the most wonderful news you’ve ever heard? Your debt has been paid in full. You owe nothing! Does this truth wreck your heart? If it has no impact on you, you need to ask God to show you the truth of your sinfulness and the truth of his love. It is no secret who God is and what He has done. It is all written in his Word. Let this be the year you get to know the God of the Bible for yourself, and not a second- or third-hand version someone else has told you about. I promise you it will change your life.

“It is in getting to know my Bible that I get to know Jesus”

Alistair Begg
Get to know the Bible to get to know Jesus

I highly recommend this reading plan if you don’t know where to start reading your Bible.

I love to end each post with a song that sets the tone to help you reflect on what you’ve just read. Is He Worthy by Andrew Petersen is one of my new favourites. Whenever I sing this song, I am filled with deep emotion as I reflect on my unworthiness and the perfect worthiness of Christ. Enjoy!

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