I just got a letter in the mail – a good letter. A great letter. Wow.
About six months ago I ended my slow-pitch softball career (well, it’s still possible that I might un-retire like Brett Favre) by tearing my left plantar fascia. That’s the connective tissue that runs at the bottom of your foot between your toes and heel. Turns out it’s pretty important for stuff like walking. I guess I’d injured it before but didn’t know it, because the common symptom is the sensation of a bruised heel. So anyway, as I ran the bases it went pop – audibly. A few thousand dollars later in hospital, orthopedic specialist and physical therapy visits, I’m walking again. We’re still paying the bills, but it’s really nice to walk.
Well, this nice letter in the mail from Mission Hospital tells me that “the entire balance of your account has been forgiven.” Wiped out. Gone. I had owed the hospital more than a thousand dollars, which was on hold while I applied for financial assistance. When you’re under the pile, that just takes a huge weight off. Relief. Joy. Freedom.
I can’t help but think of Luke 7, where Jesus explains to Simon that people whose big debts are forgiven are much more grateful than those who are relieved of small debts. If you get a scrape and someone buys you a box of band-aids, you appreciate it. When you face certain death because your heart can’t pump anymore and someone arranges and pays for your heart transplant, you’re in awe. So the more aware of the scale of your debts, the more gratitude you have when you experience forgiveness.
Simon was a religious man (a Pharisee) and thought he was a pretty good person, and he was very aware of the reputation of the woman who came to worship Jesus. Now there’s a sinner if I’ve ever met one! He not only thought that to himself, he silently doubted the morality and authority of Jesus because He was willing to associate with her. Despite knowing Simon’s thoughts, Jesus graciously gives him an illustration to help him understand God’s forgiveness. If you know a fraction of the depth of your sin, and that the penalty is spiritual death, you become overwhelmed by God’s grace toward you that you have new life. Relief! Joy! Freedom!
Coming into a relationship with Christ means that even though your heart has given out, God has arranged for Jesus to be your new heart donor and die in your place, and He’s paying the price in full. It’s awe-inspiring the day you get new life, and it’s just as incredible every day after. But sometimes we forget how much we’ve been forgiven, and need to be reminded so that we can experience the joy. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1.) I owe a debt no more!
I am filled with gratitude. And yes, I’m also writing the folks at Mission Hospital a thank-you note.