From Mike Harland
“You will need to go by the business office before you leave.”
Those words scared me to death. My wife was being discharged after 5 days in the hospital, three of which were in Intensive Care. She had been through a seven hour surgery, performed by four surgeons, to deal with the invasive breast cancer found the previous week – and now it was time to talk about the bill.
We had insurance and I was pretty sure everything would be covered but I also knew that 20% of an enormous bill would equal a whole lot more than we had. I was grateful beyond words that her cancer was found early enough to be removed surgically, but now the prospects of having a huge debt with the hospital was terrifying to this young husband and father of three on a minister’s salary.
I sat down opposite the business manager of the hospital and he showed me the bill. It was 20 pages long and well over a hundred thousand dollars. Gulp. But then he told me something that to this day I still find hard to believe. It went something like this: Mike, there is a foundation here at the hospital that helps clergy with large hospital bills. Your case was presented to the review board last night and the vote was unanimous – your bill has been paid. You have a zero balance.
Now I don’t remember exactly what I did next, but I’ll never forget the feeling of a forgiven debt – through no action of my own. And I remember getting up to hug the man I barely knew and dancing as much as a Baptist can, all the way back to Teresa’s room. I couldn’t wait to tell her what God had done. To this day now fifteen years later, the memory still brings tears to my eyes.
The woman in Luke 7:36-50 knew something about what it feels like to have an ominous debt covered. She was well aware of her condition. No one knew her sin better than she did. But she also knew that Jesus was in her town and that he had compassion on people like her. She rose, gathered the most expensive offering she could find and made her way to his feet. Simon couldn’t believe the waste of the moment. But he didn’t know what she knew. Jesus, loving Simon too much to leave him in his puzzled state, gave him – and us – insight to her action.
So when we find ourselves cold in our worship or unresponsive in our praise, let us remember the woman in Luke 7. And let us also remember that Jesus – because of His love and grace – has forgiven the debt that we could never repay – and may we find the greatest offering we can and bring it to the One who makes all things new.
And may we dance, as much as a Baptist can, for all that Jesus has done for us.
Luke 7:47 “Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.”