Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Repentant Repo-man

Repo Man Helps Pay Off Bill for Elderly Couple's Repossessed Car (ABC News)
I’ve never had anything repossessed but I imagine it must be quite a dispiriting event.  For whatever reason, an elderly couple in Illinois, Stan and Pat Kippling, recently had their car repossessed by Illini Asset Recovery co-owner Jim Ford.  I’ve never had to repossess anything either, and that is not a job I envy.  The repo-man is not the man you want to see knocking on your door.  But this repo-man added a surprising twist to what usually is a sad story.

After repossessing the car, Mr. Ford decided to call the bank to see if he could somehow pay off the couple’s debt.  What tug at his heart-strings was that the elderly couple reminded him of his late grandparents.  He knew their financial struggles with their increasing medical expenses and a fixed income, and assumed that this sweet couple was handed the same fate.  Repo-man set up an online fundraiser and in less than eight hours he had enough money to pay the car off. 

Many of us have had that sinking feeling when we’ve gotten in too deep.  We open the bills and wonder how we’re going to make the next payment. Imagine having a bill you had no possible way to pay off?  If you’re having trouble thinking of one, let me remind you that all of us are in that exact situation.  All of us have incurred a spiritual debt that we can never pay off.  All of us are on the repo-man’s list.  All of us deserve to have him knocking on our door. 

All of us deserve that, but then again this story of ours has an even more surprising twist.  Our compassionate God has decided to pay off our debt through the blood of His one and only Son.  Deserving of death, he has given us life.  Lost in despair, he has given us hope.

The Bible uses many words to describe what God has done for us, and one of those words is “redeemed.”  It essentially means that God has paid a ransom on us, or has lifted a debt we owed.  We have been released from a debt that we have incurred and that we could never repay.  The repo-man has come but God has intervened to come to our rescue.

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to be in serious debt.  He was a persecutor of Christians and even oversaw the execution of the first Christian martyr Stephen.  After he converted to Christianity he wrote extensively about redemption and grace and forgiveness.  And even though his sins may have been more obvious and despicable than many others, he also knew that all of us were in the same boat – waiting on the knock on the door from repo-man.  That is until God stepped in.

In one of Paul’s letters Paul reminds Christians of our good fortune and gives thanks for God’s compassion.  He wrote, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8a, NIV)

God has paid our debt and no debt is too great for Him.

When repo-man turned philanthropist Mr. Ford returned the car to its owner, Mr. Kippling, he replied it was “just like hitting the lottery.”  Imagine the relief Mr. Kippling felt.  Imagine the joy.  Imagine the gratitude.  That’s what Paul felt as well, and that’s what all of us can feel knowing that the debt has been paid.

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