The hand was stretched out before me, palm up.
I searched through my assets, frantically counting up my balances, determining what I could do to satisfy the demand. Nothing. Nothing of substance to present as a token of my credibility, any promises that I would pay when I had the chance mocked and rejected.
And so my collector wiped clean my holdings, picking up every representation of value and worth I had held on to so dearly, handling my goods like they were a hindrance to him. And banished me from the game.
I felt like the Monopoly guy, which was appropriate, because that was the context for this exchange. Due to rolls of the dice which deposited me on poor investments and those pesky spaces that squeeze every nickel and dime out of you, I had neglected to expand my portfolio to include hot properties or multiple lending opportunities, so I was found wanting when the rent was due.
As I watched the rest of the game from the sidelines, I recalled a clever performance one of my children's classmates had done years earlier while they were still in grammar school. The project was sort of a "show and tell", bouncing off of a literature unit on the resourcefulness of a certain young man and his cat and the biblical lesson of wise investment of talents.
The student came to class with a napkin, which obviously made it look as though he just remembered the assignment during lunch and came up with the skit on the day it was due. Maybe so, but regardless, the resulting hilarity has resonated in our family for years since.
Synopsis: There was a fair young maiden who was falling behind on her accounts, including, most tragically, her rent. Her landlord was a dastardly fellow who skulked and sneered at her whenever she ran into him in town, and who frightened her terribly when he would show up to collect. [Scene: Imagine the rails of train tracks receding into the distance, melodramatic theater music in the background]
Villain [Placing the napkin under his nose as a mustache, and snarling in a fiendish voice]: You must pay the rent!! You must pay the rent today!!
Damsel in Distress [Placing the napkin in hair as a bow, and batting eyelids and lisping in a high-pitched voice]: But I cannot pay the rent! I cannot pay the rent today!
Villain [napkin as mustache, more forcefully and dastardly, twirling the edges of the mustache]: You must pay the rent!! You must pay today!! Or else!
Damsel in Distress [napkin as hairbow, voice higher pitched, in distress with free hand fluttering]: I can't pay the rent!! I can't pay the rent today!
Hero [napkin as bow tie, spoken in a Dudley-Do-Right voice]: I'll pay the rent!
Damsel in Distress [napkin as hairbow]: My hero!
Villain [napkin as mustache]: Curses! Foiled again!
What a perfectly simple skit for children to do on the spur of the moment! And what an eloquently simple parallel to the gospel of Christ!
When I've been found depleted in my accounts, I stand with my pockets exposed, empty, nothing of merit to toss to my creditor. As Jonathan Edwards said, "You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary." The Lord Jesus paid my accounts. There was no Monopoly portfolio to clean out---only the debt of holiness to pay. The ticket I need to win the game is perfect righteousness, and I will never possess that on my own.
It must be paid with the price of Christ's blood and secured with his resurrection, for only a perfect man can answer the call for that debt.
Hebrews 5:9 ". . . and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.
Hebrews 10:14 "For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."
Hebrews 12:2 ". . . looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
1 John 4:17 "By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world."
** Five Minute Friday (FMF) is a weekly event hosted at the website of Kate Motaung wherein participants are given a single word prompt every Thursday evening, which remains active for one week. How to play: write for 5 minutes on the thoughts, memories, impressions, reflections, aspirations, hopes, beliefs, convictions, or whatever, that that prompt word brings to mind. Set a timer, write without worry about spelling or grammar or typos, and stop when the timer goes off (no cheating). The rules are here. It's free, it's non-committal, and it's easy to participate, so come to the #FMFparty with me! This week, the word was COLLECT. (Disclaimer: I usually start a piece according to the rules, and then it develops into a regular blog post.)
Laura England Miller