We had to have our shower re-tiled, because it was leaking, and mold was beginning to form. As long as we were doing the shower, we figured we’d go ahead do the floors, and getting new floors led to new vanities, countertops, sinks, cabinet doors, and light fixtures. It’s the old “If you give a mouse a cookie…” approach to home improvement. Expensive, but we’d been planning it for a while. We had the money.
And then in late December, the hot water heater went kaput. These things happen. The house was built in ’78. The hot water heater had never been replaced. No problem.
Then on Super Bowl Sunday, I smelled something funny, something…chemically. I called the gas company, and they sent someone out. Not natural gas, he said. Carbon monoxide. My heat and air guy confirmed our worst fears. The thirty-seven-year-old furnace needed to be replaced. And of course, if you’re going to do the furnace, you should go ahead and replace the antique air conditioner, too. That would be the “if you give a mouse a cookie…” approach to home comfort solutions. Or maybe it was my heat and air guy’s approach to his kids’ college fund. In any event, if you’re keeping track, since December first, we’ve purchased: new tile, new vanities, new countertops, new light fixtures, new cabinet doors, new hot water heater, new furnace, and new air conditioner. Oh, and then there was the trip home to New Hampshire for Christmas and all those pesky gifts.
We are blessed, and my husband is pretty savvy, and so we still managed to stay out of debt. They say put away six months’ worth of income for a rainy day, and it was pouring at our house this winter. But just because we don’t owe the tiler or the heat and air guy doesn’t mean we don’t carry debt.
Paul tells us in Romans 13:8: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
I find it funny that Paul refers to this as a “debt.” When you go into debt, you’ve received something that you haven’t paid for. You sign the mortgage, you move into the house, and then you pay it off. You sign the loan papers, you drive away with the car and an envelope filled with helpful little tickets to mail with your payment every month. So what did we receive that we haven’t paid for?
How about eternal salvation? According to Ephesians 2, I was dead, and now I’m alive, and I did nothing to make that happen. It was a gift, but apparently, it was a gift with strings attached, because the same author who wrote Ephesians tells me in Romans that I owe love to the world, even to the folks who don’t love me back.
No matter how much money we have in the bank, we’ll always be in debt, because the God who saved us asks to love His children, whoever and wherever they are.
A little cash for heat and hot water, a chunk of change for mold-free bathrooms. A fair trade. Offering the love that was first given to me by God in exchange for peace, joy, and salvation? That’s a no-brainer.
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. She is the author of two books, Faith House and One Christmas Eve, both Christmas stories, and a freelance editor at Robins Red Pen. Read excerpts and find out more at her website.