There’s just something about canceled debt…


Last night we had a fire in the big terracotta flower pot by our front door, drank some sparkling wine as the fire burned, and had our son take some photos of our celebration. It is against the local bylaws to burn anything, unless it’s a fire for the purposes of cooking food. But it was only a teeny tiny fire, and out almost as quickly as it started. Please don’t tell!

So, we put matches to paper and burned away the remaining evidence of a long-term debt that is now paid off. What a feeling of relief and release. For the very first time our home really is our home.

I remember our first home, and the first time we got a mortgage statement in the mail, and how shocked I was at the small percentage of principal we had paid versus the large amount of interest. The reality of our debt hit hard. The years of payments ahead seemed endless at the time. Then, suddenly, we are free!

Being free of this particular debt now frees up funds for the next phase of our lives. Our kids are growing older, and years of University/College expenses loom just ahead. With finances freed up, our desire to be more philanthropic and ensure financial stability in our elder years now seems attainable.

I shared my new feelings of lightness and freedom with a dear friend whom I knew would celebrate with me. And she understood completely. Her thoughts around canceling her own long-term debt were that if something should happen to her husband, and they had the mortgage paid off, at least she’d have the family home for her and the kids… a solid place to land. She is such a good mom.

But what about the other debts we carry that weigh on us, like debts of action or inaction that have effected others in a negative way? My husband would call that guilt… and so it is. The debt of guilt. Now that’s another heavy thing that we don’t need to carry around with us, but we do. To live lightly, without guilt, requires a type of payment too. To pay this type of debt, you might need to take some action, forgive someone, or, alternately, you might need to ask someone’s forgiveness. Only then can you unload the guilt and start fresh. And being human means you, like me, probably have to do this A LOT!

And, what about the debt of sin? Maybe not a word you are comfortable with, but sin is something that I can’t ignore in my life. If you consider what the Bible says, and you believe it to be true, then it’s clear that there is no such thing as someone who is free of sin.  The Bible says, “No not one”. So, if we aren’t free of it, what’s the outcome of that human condition? The Bible says, “The wages of sin are death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.”

Now, the wages of sin sound a lot like a debt to me?  Let’s look at how another version called The Message says it, “Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” In this case, wages or pension is the natural outcome of where you’ve made your life investment. If it’s in sin, then the outcome is eternal separation from God. If you’ve invested in God, then the outcome is eternal life with God.

You might be thinking, I’m a good person. I try hard not to sin. I do my best to follow the 10 commandments and the golden rule. So do I. But it’s virtually impossible to do. We all fall short of a God who is Holy. No matter how hard we try, we fall short. Bible says our very best acts of righteousness are just like dirty rags before God. So, like that financial obligation (mortgage) that we worked and worked at, and paid only a tiny part of the principle for years, so this sin debt is not within our power to pay. And, if we desire to be with God, be one of his children, be made right and without sin, then that debt of sin, that obligation, needs to be canceled somehow.

So, here we are faced with the reality of having a huge debt to pay and no way to pay it. And God steps in and says, here, here is my Son. He will pay. Jesus will pay your entire debt and give you complete freedom from what you owe due to your inherent sin condition. And my Son will pay your debt with his life. He will die so you can live. Live forever, starting the moment you receive my gift of forgiveness and new life.

As we go through Lent, a time of preparation that leads us to the holy season of Easter, I can’t help but think about what Jesus paid FOR ME, and what he gave TO ME. Jesus gave me ultimate freedom and eternally canceled debt. In return I want to invest my life in him and his ways. That’s a mystery in itself, but one I’m willing to unpack day by day.

Today I’m celebrating freedom from financial and spiritual debt. And I feel light. I feel free.

Lesley-Anne

A screen fast for Lent?


As I begin to write this, I’m completely aware of the corrective words of Jesus to his disciples regarding praying in public places in loud voices, rather than praying in private. And his words about fasting with long faces so that everyone can see and know what they are about. It seems that the Pharisees (religious leaders) of the day were making a scene to draw attention to themselves, rather than keeping what they were doing between them and God. And Jesus did not approve one bit, and warned his disciples to not follow suit.

So, I have to preface this post by giving notice that when and if I do a ‘screen fast’ or any other kind of fast, I will proceed privately between God and I. I will not blog about the process. There will be signs that I’m not online, but that is all. The details will remain private.

Presenting the idea now is simply to allow you to consider it for yourself.

Lent is a rather new concept for me, as I didn’t grow up with it, and I haven’t focused on it in my adult life either. But, at this time of the year, Lent is practiced by many devout followers of Jesus, who for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, choose to turn away from the distractions of the world and worldly pleasures, and draw closer to Christ. Lent 2010 begins next week on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010.

Not only is Lent about abstaining from certain activities, foods, or whatever you personally choose to remove from your life, Lent is also about what you choose to do with the time that has been opened up with the removal of these things. In Isaiah 58:1-12, Christ teaches that ‘fasting’ without works of charity does us no good. Fasting is also about devoting time to prayer and solitude with God, learning more about him, spending time with him. For example, if fasting my lunchtime meal is what I choose to do, then each lunchtime I would feel the physical trigger of hunger pangs, which would remind me to turn my thoughts toward God in prayer.

When I look at my own life and the values I profess to have, and compare that to how I spend my time and what takes up a large portion of my day, I can’t help but acknowledge that the ‘screen’ is where I’m drawn to most often. Not to my bible, not to my knees, but to my screen. Whether that’s to connect with friends, family, teachers by email, or blogging, or checking my blog stats, or my facebook, or doing important research, or writing new poems or stories, that’s where I go, A LOT. Whenever I have a spare minute, with very little structure or parameters, I walk around the corner to my computer desk and click, click, click. And, without being completely aware of it, I’m there for long periods of time.

So, it makes sense to me that to fast something in my life that might even hold some power over me, it would have to be my computer.

For you it could be texting, eating certain foods, television, shopping, talking on the phone, or whatever you feel could or should go.

40 days is a long time. I took time out from my computer once before, over a year ago, for a month. And that was difficult. People didn’t understand. I felt cut off. I felt disappointed that phone calls didn’t take the place of emails. I didn’t do it then for the primary purpose of seeking God, but for the purposes of breaking the hold the computer had over me. And, here I am recognizing that the mesmerizing white glow of the screen might just have me in it’s grasp one more time. And if I say I value Jesus over all, then my life had better show that singleness of heart and action.

A blog I read occasionally has some great steps to prepare for a ‘screen fast’. I will print them out today and give serious consideration. And then, I will choose.

Logging off for now,

Lesley-Anne