Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

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– posted 12.04.2009

The Unpayable Debt (3)

A Character story about love.

Carl took the long way home from the store. He didn't like missing play with the other guys to pay off the damaged bike. But when Mr. Maloney 'tricked' him into playing with his sister as payment for that debt, that was the worst. He felt like a trapped animal, with no way to escape. I wonder if this is one of the things the Romans did to torture people, he asked himself. I'll bet it is. I'm sure it would be better to be burned at the stake or thrown to the lions, or have your tongue cut out than to have to play with your sister. Suddenly a terrible thought filled his mind and sent a chill up his spine. Mr. Maloney wouldn't make me play with her for the next ten weeks! He surely wouldn't be that cruel! Any flicker of hope for freedom seemed to be snuffed out, and all the world seemed to turn black.
By the time Carl got home, he felt sick. And, as usual, his sister was there to greet him. "Hi, Carl. You're home early today, aren't you? Can I ride your bike? I'll be careful. Honest."
Carl was about to give his usual, by now canned, answer but then he remembered the agreement. "Ah,. O.K. I'll let you ride it t-today, i-if you're careful like you said."
"You mean it? Wow! Thanks a lot!" She grabbed the bike out of Carl's hand and raced down the sidewalk to the corner. Carl watched in anger. He didn't want her to ride it. She still hadn't paid for the damage she did before. But she got to play anyway and Carl was in a hopeless prison. It just wasn't fair!
After Janice rode back and forth a few times, she pulled up in front of Carl. "Thanks for letting me ride it. I sure wish I had my very own bright red bike like this one. But now it's your turn. Here."
"Th-thanks," Carl muttered. "You go ahead and ride it all you w-want." He almost choked on his words.
"You mean it? Wow, you sure are nice for a change." Janice hopped back on the bike and raced off down the sidewalk. Carl sat on the front step and watched, fuming.
After fifteen more minutes, Janice rode the bike up to the steps and got off. "Thanks. You can have it back. I'm tired of riding it now."
Carl glanced at his watch. Only a long 30 minutes had passed so far. At this rate, it would take another year to pay off his debt!
"Uh, Janice, you don't want to play something else, do you?"
"Like what?" she scowled suspiciously.
"Anything. You name it."
"You mean it? Really? You'd play with me?"
"Sure. Why not?"
"O.K. Let's play dolls."
Carl's mouth flew open and his eyes grew as big as saucers. "Dolls?" he sneered. "No way, man. Ain't no one gunna-" but just then he could almost hear Mr. Maloney say, "..do anything my little friend wants to do." "Oh, all right. But just for a few minutes. And we have to go in the house, in the back room. . . And pull the shades too. And at 5 o'clock sharp I'm quitting, no matter what."
Tuesday after school Carl headed straight for Mr. Maloney's shop. "I can't take the torture any longer," he pleaded. "I'll do anything. . I'll- I'll wash the windows until I wear the glass down to nothin', but please don't make me play with my sister again. What would I have done yesterday if one of the guys came over and saw me playing dolls? Why, I'd never live that one down. I've never been so embarrassed in all my life!"
"So how long did you play with her, Carl?" Mr. Maloney asked.
"Exactly an hour, and not a minute over you can be absolutely sure."
"That's too bad," he replied, shaking his head.
"Why do you say that?"
"Because for one thing, that means you still have at least nine weeks and four days to go." Mr. Maloney could see the despair written on Carl's face. "Carl, let me tell you a little story. Once a poor peasant owed a rich land owner a great sum of money. Each week the poor man brought a small bag of coins to the rich man to pay this debt. But one day the rich man said to the peasant, 'My friend, I do not need this money. However, a farmer lives down this road about three miles. He has 8 children and as far as I can tell, they don't have enough to eat. From now on, each week I would like you to take the coins to this man and give them to him in behalf of me.' The peasant agreed, of course, but when he got to the poor man's house the next week, he found him sleeping on the front porch. The peasant thought, Why, this man is lazy and not worthy of this money. I worked hard for it but he is not willing to work at all. I'm not going to give my valuable coins to him. I will take them to the rich man as before. Now, Carl, what do you think? Was the peasant right to refuse to give his coins because he felt the poor man did not deserve it?"
Carl thought a moment. "No, I don't think so."
"Why's that?" asked Mr. Maloney.
"Because it's not really his money, as I see it. He owed it to the rich man. If the rich man wanted him to give it to someone else, then he should just do it."
"So you think it doesn't matter if the peasant thought the poor man deserved it or not?"
"No, or at least I don't think so. What's the right answer?"
"You have given exactly the right answer, my boy. You have grasped the underlying principle."
"I have?"
"Yup. And it's because of this principle that you must continue to play with your sister to pay off your debt to me. See you on Friday." (concluded next time)
In Romans 13:8 we are told, "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another." Our greatest debt will always be our debt for God's love which we can pay to others in His Name, even if we don't think they deserve it.