I’ve developed a special cringe-face which I use solely for opening bills. This is a result of having both the electric and gas bills double recently. A while back, we signed a two-year contract with a market supplier for gas and electric. This saved a great deal of money for the first two years, but the rates skyrocketed when the contract ended. Hence the doubled bills. I had every intention of watching for this increase and switching suppliers before the rates hiked up, but I got distracted by things like cutting crusts off PBJ sandwiches, attempting to potty train, and trying to find a single matching pair of socks in the laundry pile. (Seriously, where are all the socks going?!)
Anyway. Now I have this special bill-opening-cringe-face, because—I realize this sounds dramatic—I’m a little traumatized by the doubled utility bills.
In February, we received a bill from a healthcare provider. I had a major cringe-face when opening this bill. Healthcare provider bills, in my experience, are basically horror movies in an envelope. Imagine my relief to find this bill was only for $23.00. I perused the bill (which included detailed insurance adjustments) shrugged, nodded, and sent in our check—no questions asked.
At this point, you’re thinking, Wow. This is a rather boring blog post. I can’t believe I’ve wasted three minutes of my life reading about your $23.00 medical bill.
But stay with me, we’re going somewhere slightly more interesting with this.
Several weeks later, we received another bill in the mail from this same healthcare provider. Lots of internal panic and cringing ensued, because I naturally assumed this bill was for upwards of one million dollars. (Like I said, I’m traumatized.)
So I opened it up, ever so carefully, and peeked into the envelope with only one eye open. I peeked just enough to kind of sort of see how many zeros we were talking here.
And I saw the weirdest thing.
There, in the envelope, was our original bill, along with our original check, and a letter. The letter read: According to our records, there is NO balance on your account and I am therefore returning your check to you.
Weird, right? At some point, their records obviously indicated a balance on our account. Hence the original bill. But all the sudden, no balance. No need for us to pay anything at all.
This never happens. Like, ever. I was skeptical. I was weirded-out, if you will. A flood of questions entered my mind.
What is this all about? What should I make of this? What’s the catch?
Then, I saw the craziest thing of all.
There, on our original bill, someone had crossed out the Amount Paid section. When they crossed it out, they ended up making a fish symbol. The same symbol that has come to represent Jesus. No joke. I can’t make this stuff up. Look:
I don’t know if the person who did this meant to do it or not. But I’m confident God meant for me to share this simple illustration with you.
As Easter approaches, I’m reminded that this is what Jesus did for each and every one of us. He made our debt disappear, separating it “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).
I don’t know about you, but if I were left to pay my own debt to God, that would be one terrifying, cringeworthy bill. It would be something I could never, ever pay on my own.
Because of Jesus, there is no balance on my account. That’s truly something to celebrate.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteousness, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:8)
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:22)