My tween son and I went to the grocery store today. We were being silly as I kept threatening to break in to song in the middle of the store. Laughing and playing through each aisle – I am sure we smiled and giggled together more today than we had in a long time. Right up until we checked out and my debit card was denied. Then, I was trying to figure out how to pay. How? The money that I was confident was available in my account was gone.
Standing at the checkout as the cashier asked if I had a credit card or checkbook or cash available to pay the $66.33, I felt my joy wilt. I calmly explained that my debit card was my only form of payment and apologized for the inconvenience, but I wasn’t going to be able to complete the purchase. My son stood there, looking confused, while the cashier called over the manager and security. Add a little more wilting to my countenance. Poor kid was even more confused when I said, “I’m just going to have to go home and figure out where my money went, and then come back once I can pay.” As we were walking out, he asked in near panic, “Mom, why aren’t you taking the food?”
From a mama’s standpoint, worse than having to explain to the cashier that I have insufficient funds is trying to explain to this innocent kid with the big blue eyes that we didn’t have any money for food. How do I tell him that the cereal supper he ate last night might be repeated tonight and for breakfast and for lunch and for…well…my heart ached as I told him that we just couldn’t afford groceries for the next week or two. He cried on the way home. I cried with him.
As I sit here typing words on a page, I realize that I am not the first person that has had this happen. I am not alone. I know the kind of shame it breeds to stand before the cashier as the customers in the line behind sneer. So many of us fight for daily provision and for food just to eat. It becomes exhausting to try to juggle bills and feed our families, keep gas in the car and shoes on growing feet. And in so many ways, we end up with insufficient funds.
It is in this daily battle that the good news of the gospel meets our insufficient funds. Every single one of us has a debt we can not pay; we have racked up a bill through our sins and stumblings that our best efforts can not compensate for. No matter the size of the infraction, the sentence is the same: death. That little white lie that couldn’t have really hurt anyone; that red light that would have made me late, so I just ran it; that yelling at my husband when I thought he was too interested in the game and not interested enough in me; that shooting heroin into the veins or the taking an extra pain killer just to calm the nervous heart; that gossip that seemed so harmless have each earned the same sentence. No matter how big or small we think our sin is, we all miss the mark of perfection God requires.
Thankfully, we stand not before a helpless cashier, but before a holy and righteous God who looks on us with compassion. He sees our sin, finds us guilty, and pronounces the penalty for our sin, which is death. Then God does something amazing, astounding, beyond our comprehension. He willingly sends his Son Jesus to die in our place. He takes the wages of death that we have earned and settles the debt we have no way to pay through the death of his Son.
Praise God! He pays when we can’t and in Christ, we are never left standing with a debt that we are insufficient to pay. We never have to guess or wonder if our feeble efforts will be enough to make us right with God. God made a way through Jesus for us to be right, for our penalty to be paid. Christ’s death and resurrection prove He is sufficient. He marks our debt PAID IN FULL.
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. ~ Romans 3:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23
Such is the confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God… ~2 Corinthians 3:4-6