This past semester has been rough. For those of you used to a college-based schedule, you might notice that my last post was shortly before I started this Fall semester.
While I could explain my circumstances and hope to win some grace from you, that’s not a good use of my time. It’s not the whole truth. Honestly, I’ve been struggling most in my spiritual life. I’ve been overwhelmed by fear, doubt, anger, full anxiety, and a cloud of frustrations that lead me to a place I’m ashamed to have been. I did not want to write because I did not feel spiritual. I was deeply worried that every word would be fueled with these horrible emotions that became misleading or held completely useless information. The weight of my sin and the sin of those around me was crushing.
Then God met me where I was, and spoke life into me. He gave me hope in only the way He can.
Debt is a huge part of my current situation. Without expanding on the dirty details, we had spent our savings on fees for buying a trailer without bringing in a large sum of money we were told we would receive. It started with no safety net, and spiraled out of control from there. As we scrambled to try to make ends meet, more and more expenses came up, and we are now in the most uncomfortable place we’ve ever been. I still struggle with “good stewardship” and being a “good example” for those I promised payments to. I still believe we are required to turn our difficult situation into a stable one, through investment in education, self-marketing strategies, and building a relational network.
However, I also think God has taught me something important about my weaknesses and His strengths.
Debt is an interesting topic in scripture. Most scriptures concerning debt seem to have a common trend of the poor unable to pay the rich, of those in need being bailed out by a master or rich man, and all of them point to the very real spiritual state Christ has found us in.
I have heard many ask “why is the world such a cruel place.” Before I answer, I need you to know that I agree. It’s a horrible place. Children are hurting at such a young age, and people take advantage of others whenever they can. I think Proverbs has some good warnings regarding their actions, as well as many books in the new testament. I do not believe their actions will go unpunished, whether that be in this world or in eternal judgement.
Why, however, is quite a simple yet entirely loaded answer. It is because people are sinful to their core.
I would like to pause here to recognize that there are probably hundreds of books written by those much smarter than myself on this topic, and if you’re looking for more, I encourage you to find them and read deeply!
I would like to touch on the topic in a personal way, simply because that is how God continues to present it to me. Our churches seem to struggles with this balance of sin. Many are eager to recognize the hurt others have given them. Yet many of us feel uncomfortable, as we should, telling others that they are rotten. It’s a judgement that God is supposed to do, and it feels wrong to tell people that they are so rotten that they can never get better. Literally everything we touch, we ruin. At this sinful state, in this sinful world, we constantly say thing and do thing with good intentions. These intentions are useless to the people we just hurt, not fully understanding their perspective or their circumstances. Reflect on this. It happens to you all the time. How many times have you done it to others. I need you to realize how deeply broken you are, right now, in this moment.
Without stopping to recognize our deeply-rooted sin, the stuff that we don’t do to intentionally hurt others and we still do, we cannot recognize how helpless our situation is. Just like a poor person spiraling out of control in an endless loop of debt. We cannot recover. At least, not on our own.
The crazy thing is, this is the very state that God finds us in, whether we take the time to recognize it or not. We’re in a spiritual state very similar to a person taking on more debt to satisfy one payment. We cannot remove ourselves from the situation unless we somehow run into a large sum of money.
This is the beauty of the gospel, that Christ payed off our debt. The one we feared the most, the one that never had a chance to be payed off. This is why many scriptures on debt (Deuteronomy 15, Matthew 18, and Luke 7) contain a forgiveness of debt. It is the very real and personal metaphor for our God, who removed all the debts in our spiritual life. In this world, we are still broken, but we are promised a restoration in which we will live as those who are free from all debts. We can claim His forgiveness as we walk through a broken world, and pray that God might even use us to free the debts others have from us. I have seen the greatest maturity in Christians as those who free all debts, because they know how deep their debt was, and the freedom of somebody else’s willingness to pay them off. It is beautiful and life changing.
And here, in my brokenness, I know that if God can cover my spiritual debt, how much more will He lead our family through our monetary debt. Money is far simpler a problem.
Our plan is not to stop trying, but to continue with boldness in honor of God. To follow our God-given passions and skill sets, to show others that we have been growing them through experience and education, and to build deep relationships with people who will both encourage and redirect us when we continue to struggle. If it is God’s will, we hope to achieve long-term financial goals and find practical ways to pay back those we owe. Ultimately, it is not in our hands, and we trust that God is fighting our battles and leading us in His direction. If we follow our own, we will continue to struggle. If we follow God, He will take us towards a flourishing life filled with His blessings (monetary or not).