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The Debt Is Paid in Full - A Father's Day Message

In Under God's Sky, author John R. Hardison shares short, personal, and inspirational anecdotes from his life, drawing on powerful scriptural truths along the way. Here, he reflects on his father's strength and his grandfather's kindness, and he is reminded of the love his heavenly Father shows all people through the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

As my father was slowly dying of multiple myeloma back in the early 1970s, quite a few bills began to accumulate. His brothers—partners in the ranch he had managed for years—continued to pay his salary, and Dad continued to do as much of the paperwork as he could to help run the ranch. It made him feel worthwhile and took his mind off the terrible disease ravaging his body; but the salary couldn’t cover his growing debts.

My father was a tough, stubborn man who had not wanted to admit that he was ill. Before the disease was diagnosed, he devised ways of pulling the sprinkler hoses without bending over. The pain in his back was just too intense. He figured out creative ways to save his energy and to avoid the pain that continued to worsen each day. He even went ahead with his scheduled carpal tunnel surgery to cure the numbness in his hands. The doctors never suspected that something far more sinister was at work in his body.

Dad had worked hard all his life and took pride in the fact that he paid his debts. He did not like to owe anyone. However, over time as he became more and more ill, the bills grew larger and larger. There just wasn’t enough money to go around.

My maternal grandfather quietly stepped forward and loaned my folks several thousand dollars. At Dad’s insistence they wrote a legal contract stating the amount that they owed.

Not long after the contract was signed, my father was called to be with his Lord. A couple of days after the funeral, I came across the contract as I was helping my mother get her papers and finances in order. Later the same day when my grandfather came for a visit, I took him aside. I explained that in order to help my mother set up a plan for taking care of her finances, he should tell us how he would like us to pay the loan. He looked at me, and I can remember his words as if he were saying them now. “Let me see that contract.” Then, without any hesitation, he tore it into pieces and deposited it in the garbage can. The debt Dad had owed was paid in full through the Christian goodwill of my grandfather. The slate was clean, not because my father paid it but because it was forgiven. The payment was not for work done, it was a freely given gift from a father who loved his daughter and son-in-law.

Think about what our heavenly Father has done for us, not because we earned it but because he loved us. We are all burdened by huge debts composed of a lifetime of sins. No matter how hard or how stubbornly we work, we cannot pay them. No matter how much we might want to, we cannot follow the directives of the contract laid out in the Ten Commandments. However, through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we have been redeemed. Our debts have been forgiven, and the slate has been wiped clean. When we die, God will look at us as if we had never sinned, because Christ has paid the full price for our salvation. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7,8).

Under_God's_SkyFrom Under God's Sky: Reflections for Christian Men, by John R. Hardison ©2006 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Main article image credit: Chris Pastrick, Pixabay (used under Creative Commons CC0)