by Marci M.
“Fine for you,” some say, “but I’m not the churchgoing type. I’m just not good enough.” Even some churchgoers feel the same way: “I know you can pray and ask God for help, but me? My sins are too black, and I keep making the same dumb mistakes. I’m just not good enough.”
I learned a new way of thinking about “good enough” from an experience with my daughter. Now in her thirties, my daughter has made some unusual choices in life, such as a year living in the mountains in a yurt (canvas and wood teepee) with no running water. She hauled her water from the river, chopped her own wood for heating and cooking, had an unassisted home birth, named her two children after trees, and so forth. You get the picture. She’s mellowed a bit over the years, has moved back to the valley, and lives in a house with actual plumbing.
Some of her prior choices, however, continue to have financial consequences. At first it was bad credit, then no credit at all, and so she decided to pay cash for everything. That’s a wise choice in some ways, but it makes things a little difficult when it’s time to buy a car.
As her old car was slowly dying, my daughter postponed replacing it for many months. But eventually she knew she had to do something. She wanted to buy another used car, but it would cost more than she could ever afford in cash. Or she could add a modest used-car payment into her budget, but without a credit rating she wouldn’t qualify for a loan. So I offered to cosign on a car loan. I would give my life for my daughter, so using my good credit rating was nothing.
I knew that if you have good credit, you get a good interest rate; likewise, if you have bad credit, you get an expensive interest rate. Having never cosigned a loan before, I thought the bank would average her bad credit and my good credit and give us a mediocre interest rate. What I learned, however, is that the bank considered only my credit and gave us an excellent interest rate. Because I cosigned with her, that’s all the bank wanted to know. All I now ask of her is to maintain the car and faithfully make the monthly car payments.
As I pondered this experience, I thought about Jesus Christ, whose atonement covers every mistake ever made. His atonement makes it possible for us to be clean again in the sight of God (See “Where’s the Real Life Reset Button?”). But there is one crucial difference between me and my Savior Jesus Christ, my “co-signer” advocate with the Father at the bar of justice. The crucial difference is that signing that paper cost me nothing. Nothing. In contrast, Jesus’s atonement cost Him inexpressible pain, suffering, agony, and ultimately death. He, the only sinless one who ever lived, paid in full the debt He didn’t owe but which he agreed to inherit. He did it out of love in order to cosign the biggest debt of all – my sins, your sins, and the sins of everyone who lives, has lived, or will live – before the biggest Creditor ever, our Heavenly Father who judges with perfect justice.
It would be justice to give my daughter a high interest rate because of her choices. Likewise, it would be justice for me to pay for every sin I have committed or will commit, and there are and will be many. But because of the mercy of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Cosigner, God the Father will accept the Savior’s perfect credit rating. In return, Jesus merely asks that I do my best to keep His commandments, repenting every day as I strive to learn and grow from my mistakes.
I am grateful not to be doomed to a place of eternal poor credit. Instead, inexplicably, I am invited to partake of everything the Father has, despite my never, ever being good enough on my own.
Jesus paid everything. I owe Him everything.