Month's End Anxiety
Dear old and new friends,
With only three days left until the end of August many are anxiously recalculating their checkbook balance to see if it can cover the mortgage, credit cards and other bills due at the end of this month. This common situation today is the source of us and our family or friends being anxious about “making ends meet.” No one ever asks what these ends are that we are supposed to meet, for as we know that saying is about having sufficient cash to cover all your debts. “Making ends meet” is an abbreviation of a quotation from a 1748 novel, “To make both ends of the year meet.” The meaning of the original version was that by the year’s end to have lived within your income and have settled all your financial obligations.
Making ends meet isn’t a new anxiety—it’s an ancient one. It is implied in that most revered of prayers, the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father (Matthew 6:9), where we petition God to “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” The word for debts was translated into English as trespasses or sins. Those who originally heard that expression about debts were Palestinian peasants, all of whom were heavily indebted. To hear that their debts could be forgiven was a priceless gift beyond our comprehension. Those impoverished peasants were encumbered by endless indebtedness from landlords, paying tithes, Roman tribute and taxes along with various tolls. It is estimated that 35-40 percent of their agricultural harvest was extracted just to pay tax debts. Usually farmer peasants unable to repay loans from buying seed frequently became sharecroppers on their own land, and some along with their families were sold off into slavery.
If today the Lord’s Prayer used the original term “debts” we surely would ponder what our personal Divine indebtedness is. First would come to mind our past sins/mistakes that we’ve swept under the carpet and forgotten. Next would be our immeasurable failures to express gratitude for all our countless gifts from God we’ve taken for granted. In order to make “ends meet” for our incalculable debts, we enter into a contractual agreement with God: According to the amount we pardon of those indebted to us, our debt balance will be removed.
Pause, and ask who is indebted to you? Take time to travel on the wings of memory back to your school days, and recall if you have pardoned those who were mean, teased or shamed you in front of others? Then move forward into your adult yeas, asking if you have forgiven those who betrayed your love, slandered you, publicly embarrassed you or caused you agonizing pain? Now to the best of your ability strive to forgive all these indebted to you.
Never forget when “making your ends meet” that the Divine Loan Office has no clocks nor calendars…and is open 24/7.