Paying my dues

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It is no small thing to take three small kids to the library.

But our books were overdue, fines were accruing, and the kids were antsy for new literary fodder. So we played hunt-the-library-book, got all our gear together and made the trip across town. The kids took turn to return the books into the book deposit slots and raced inside. The eldest two made their choices, carefully laying their fortnights worth of treasures into the bag, while I tried to restrain my destructo-baby from pulling armfuls of books into the aisles. I attempted to do this all quietly.


After 30 minutes, Mommy was Done. I gathered up the books, the bags, the destructo-baby and corralled the eldest two. As we stepped up to the electronic check out, I realized with horror that I. did. not. have. our. library. card.


I sighed as I turned around and headed for the tired yet kindly librarian behind the counter. “I forgot my library card,” I confessed. “Can you help me?”

“Only if you’re paying me money,” she replied, and pointed to the “accounts” sign above her head.

“I had a fine to pay anyway,” I said, and offered her my ID so she could look me up. “I never mind paying library fines,” I said, making conversation while she typed. “I feel badly that the books are late and I’m sorry for the infraction, but I don’t actually mind giving money to the library.”

She laughed. “You could consider it your dues,” she said, and told me how much I owed.

I stifled a gasp with a smile. “Wow. I didn’t think a little fine here and there could add up to such a big debt.” I said. I handed over a crisp note, a transaction in green to erase my debts.

“No,” she said, “People are often surprised at what they owe.”

I looked down at the bag of books and asked, “do you think we could take these out? If I need my card, don’t worry – I’ll come back another day”

“Sure,” she replied, and then added a qualification, “now that I know who you are. I mean, people don’t pay other people’s debts, now do they?”

I hesitated, and then mumbled, “not unless you’re Jesus.”

Her head snapped up, eyes widened to see if she had heard me correctly.

I said it again, clearer and with grateful remembrance: “You’re right. People don’t pay other people’s debts. Unless you’re Jesus.” A transaction in red to erase my debts.

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19 thoughts on “Paying my dues”

  1. “Destructo-baby” … Love that! Your trip to the library sounds very much like mine. “Mommy was done”. Yup, that’s me too! But what a sweet encounter God had planned for you at the end! Thank you for sharing!

  2. *Love* this. Also, this part –> “I didn’t think a little fine here and there could add up to such a big debt.” … “No,” she said, “People are often surprised at what they owe.” That definitely applies to our own views of our sinfulness, as well. We often don’t think a ‘little sin here and there could add up to such a big debt.’ Praise God for nailing *all* of our debts to the cross. Thanks for sharing this, and for your vocal testimony at the library!

    1. Oh Kate, I hadn’t planned those words from the librarian… but as I was driving home after that conversation I realized how many double entendres there had been. I felt a bit like I imagine the disciples did after Jesus ascended, piecing glory together bit-by-bit after the fact 🙂

  3. In spite of all the nerve-frazzling moments of your library excursion, you had the presence of spirit to bring Jesus into the conversation. A well-written tale that demonstrates divine appointments can happen anywhere, anytime. We need to be ready–as you were! Thank you, Bronwyn!

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