Gerald Hallmark

Have you ever taken out a loan at the bank?

Now this is an experience every citizen needs to undergo to understand what you are worth financially. The formula for figuring this net worth is just a little less complicated than a moonshot equation.

Actually, you start off listing all you owe then you realize you have no business even applying for a loan. If you get past this discouraging hurdle you then get to list all your assets. I thought it was cute when the form told me I could use the back for additional space in my list. The truth is I didn’t even fill up the two spaces it gave me on the front.

Now you use this formula by subtracting your liabilities — they said I didn’t have to list my preaching in this category — from your assets. Then you multiply that by your first born’s birthday, subtract your wife’s Social security number then divide this by what you think your chances are of getting the loan.

When this phase of the process is complete you take it to the loan officer. I wonder why this person is referred to as an officer.

Anyway, I felt like I had filled out a final exam paper and was about to be graded. I’ll have to admit failing to put my name on the top of the form made me look bad.

The age of miracles has not passed because in spite of my creative paperwork my loan was approved. Now here is the important part of any loan: It is not the interest rates, early payouts and discount points that really matter because the bottom line is how much are the monthly payments.

So, I show up and start signing papers for the bank, the feds, state government, the janitor and the banker’s third cousin. I felt like I was at a celebrity autograph party.

What I didn’t sign I had to initial, leave a fingerprint and a drop of blood.

Borrowing 20 bucks is tough. I’m glad I didn’t need a big loan.

You know the world requires all kinds of legal verification to prove who you are, where you live and what you do for a living. We live in a legal society tightly controlled by regulations. The bank must do what it is told and pass this along to the customer. There is nothing personal in any of this paperwork; it’s just the law.

In some of our churches there are those that are tightly regulated by their strict legality of religion. It seems they just love regulations and bylaws. Everything has to be to the jot and tittle and just right. Any deviation from a perceived biblical way of doing things is considered the breaking of a commandment. It is a Pharisaic religion, not a New Testament concept of faith and grace.

When I mentioned grace to the bank the staff told me there was only a 30-day grace period. Of course the bank thinks in terms of legal grace, but I’m so glad I live in a faith based on God’s grace that has no limits.

My spiritual bank account is paid in full and co-signed by my Heavenly Father. I thank God I have a faith of grace and not a religion of rules.

Now I need to pay this loan off as soon possible because I miss my wife. I had to put her up as collateral because it was either her or my bass boat.

Dr. Gerald Hallmark is a retired minister living in Alexander City whose column appears in The Outlook each Friday.