Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Through the cross, Jesus introduced something into the world that we still don’t understand. He has made each and every one of us un-punishable. We are un-punishable.
~Danny Silk, Culture of Honor, p.80

Someone shared the above quote on Facebook today.

What Mr. Silk was talking about was grace. Pure and simple, grace goes beyond the acronym, "God's Riches At Christ's Expense" that we learned in Sunday school. 

I have searched for words to describe this concept, and when I saw the word "un-punishable" ... it reminded me of an experience we had in 1996, nearly 20 years ago (now THAT's hard to believe. It still feels a LOT more recent than that.) 

We went bankrupt. We'd made an effort in running a business and the debts piled up so much that we were six figures in debt (not counting the mortgage) and with no way out. 

For months, we robbed Peter to pay Paul - paid one credit card off with the other - or with a line of credit that kept growing more and more. When we borrowed money from a finance company for the second time in three months to buy groceries, we knew we couldn't dig ourselves out. 

It was time to say quit. 

Graphic "Tree Debt" courtesy
of jesadaphorn at
The decision wasn't an easy one; it was wrenching, made even more so by the reactions of fellow-Christians into whose theology bankruptcy didn't fit. 

We felt alone, felt like failures professionally and personally, and felt completely, utterly overwhelmed. Trite, pat answers from well-meaning people just made things worse. This wasn't some financial crunch where there wasn't enough month at the end of the money; it was way beyond that. We'd already refinanced the house once, so selling wasn't an option. We were completely stuck. There was no way out.

So on the advice of the office of the Orderly Payment of Debt (yes, we tried going to them first and they knew that it was too much for us) we both declared personal bankruptcy. If only one of us did, the creditors would go after the other of us. So, we did it together. 

On September 30, 1996, we sat in front of a bankruptcy trustee. The definition of "trustee" is "a person whom someone trusts." I can tell you that we had major misgivings and that the trust we placed in this man was done out of desperation, nothing more. There was no way we could pay our debts. None. And this guy, with one simple signature, could fix that. 

We did everything that was required by law. We outlined every debt. We wrote down all our monthly expenses. Every. Single. One. He worked out a monthly budget with us as if the debt (excluding the mortgage, we would still have to pay that) did not exist.

And then he got us to sign some papers. And when he signed beneath them, he turned to us and said words I will never forget: 

"Your debt is gone. It has been written off, wiped clean. From this moment onward, under Canadian law, your creditors do not have the right to ever again demand payment from you for the debts that are on this paper. If they ever do, you send them to me.

In spite of the stigma we felt for having to do this, it was like a great 10-ton weight dropped off our backs. The debt that was crushing us was absolutely and in every way, un-punishable. 

It was gone. And the trustee's job was to protect us from the creditors. 

That is the most precise worldly picture of divine grace that I could describe to you. There is NO condemnation. NONE. 

Except with Jesus, He wrote off ALL the debt. Every last sin, for every last second of the whole of our lives, past, present and future. The whole shooting match! And even if we mess up, even if we do it wrong, He is there to protect us from the attacks of the enemy, from the "you're not doing enough" demands for payment - accusations that somehow what Jesus did wasn't sufficient to pay our way and that it is somehow our responsibility to help Him out. 


His grace is enough. He has made us un-punishable. Forever. 


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