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The Great Library Fine

Updated: May 14, 2020


That’s how much I owed. I stood quietly in front of the Librarian as she quickly typed away on her computer. I glanced around to see if there was anyone I knew in the library. There wasn’t. “Thank goodness for that,” I thought. “Next,” the Librarian called looking up at me.

I humbly approached the desk, embarrassed by my debt. I knew my fine was great. But today was Amnesty Day. I knew if I was brave enough to make that walk of shame, to own up to my irresponsibility, and ask for mercy the sweet Librarian would erase my debt. I took a deep breath and said “I’m here for Amnesty Day, we have a huge fine.”

I could have made excuses. There are many. I have a lot of kids. Library books somehow got mixed in with the regular books and a few were left behind when we returned the others. I have a lot of kids. They weren’t even my books, although I had read them to my children. Did I mention I have a lot of kids? We check out 40 books at a time, I’m surprised we made it back with 36. I have a lot of kids. Excuses are many, but they don’t relieve the responsibility, therefore they are a waste of my breath.

I knew when I was given the card and I signed my name that I was accepting full responsibility for whatever was taken from the library. And the deal with the library is that you must return what you take.

The debt was mine.

The librarian looked up and smiled. “I was able to forgive all of the fees; your account has been returned to good standing.” And with those words she motioned to shelves and shelves of books behind her. “You are free to get anything you’d like!”

Immediately my shame turned to gratitude. My children almost ran to the shelves overflowing with books. They laughed excitedly as they felt the joy of access once again. “Thank you,” I whispered. The emotion almost spilled over from my eyes. 


The debt was cleared.

Without question.

Without condemnation.

Without contempt.

Without condescension.

Simply cleared from my name by the one with authority, the debt is no longer mine.

I couldn’t help but think of Jesus. Sometimes I feel the weight of my sin and I allow it to bend my back with shame. I presume it’s all that Jesus sees so I hide from him and conceal my debt. I forsake my access.

The debt was great.

The debt was mine.

The debt was paid.

My sin was great. His grace was greater.

Amnesty Day began on an old rugged cross and that debt I owe, it’s been paid in full.

My account is in good standing and there is nothing I can do that he can’t forgive.

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