I became a believer in Jesus Christ when I was young.
I’m thankful that Jesus rescued me. I knew in my head that Jesus delivered me from sin and its consequences, but when I heard a dramatic salvation testimony, I could only smile and nod, left to imagine the emotions behind being wiped clean from a life a sin. I didn’t really know what forgiveness felt like.
That is, I didn’t know what forgiveness felt like until we went through a short sale.
In 2007, my husband and I bought a house we couldn’t afford with no downpayment.
In 2008, the housing market bubble burst. Our house that was worth $199,900 was now worth about $120,000.
In 2009, we moved out of state for my husband’s job. We hung onto the house as a rental for years in hopes that the housing market would bounce back.
In 2014, the renters moved out and it became obvious that the housing market would never bounce back. We listed the house for sale.
In 2015, the house sold as a short sale! Praise the Lord!
House Sold, Debt Remains
The house was sold, but because it was a short sale, the debt remained.
A short sale means that you owe the mortgage company more than what the house is worth. That means, once you find a buyer to pay what the house is worth, you are still responsible for the remaining balance of the mortgage which in our case was almost $80,000.
$80,000. The first time I saw the figure written down on the official paperwork, it was crushing. I felt like a gorilla had climbed up on my shoulders to stay.
There didn’t seem like a way out. We borrowed the money and we were responsible for paying it back. There was no loophole of innocence. We owed every penny of that money.
We did the math. It would take us approximately forever to pay it back. Paying it back would hold us back from doing so many other things financially like buy a home, pay for college for the four kids, and be able to eat more than just rice and beans for dinner each night. The burden was great and it was rightfully ours to bear.
There was only one hope. We could ask for forgiveness.
The Short Sale
Thankfully, the realtor handed us over to a short sale lawyer who had dealt with hundreds of cases like ours. He guided us through the process of asking for forgiveness for the debt. I wrote out our sob story and sent it to the mortgage company. The lawyer told us how to fill out the necessary forms, how to offer a settlement, and how to deal with the inevitable counteroffer.
It was a nerve-racking process. A short sale is not a guaranteed thing. The mortgage company had every right to demand from us what we owed them. After all, we borrowed the money and promised we would pay it back. They were under no obligation to forgive us.
Finally, in December 2016, we received the news we had been waiting for. We tore open the certified letter and held in our hand the proof that we had been forgiven the $76,967.78 we owed. As soon as I saw the paperwork, my heart felt 100 pounds lighter. This is what forgiveness feels like, I thought. Now I understand what it’s like to be forgiven for my sin.
Although the short sale was painful, I am thankful that it gave me the experience of forgiveness.
But short sale forgiveness is not exactly the same as God’s forgiveness.
God’s Complete Forgiveness
In the short sale, we had to negotiate a settlement. We still had to pay a little bit. In Christ, we pay nothing. Christ paid it all on the cross.
In the short sale, there was uncertainty when approaching the mortgage company. In Christ, we can approach with confidence. If we ask, He will forgive.
In the short sale, we had to initiate the transaction. Our case sat untouched at the mortgage company for six months before we decided to call every week until the ball got rolling. Who knows how long our debt would have sat there if we did not initiate the debt settlement. With God, He is the initiator. We are lost in our sin and He calls us to come and be forgiven.
What experience have you had in your life that helps you understand God’s forgiveness? Comment below! I’d love to hear your testimony!