Last year was supposed to be my year. I was celebrating the big 50 and I had plans. This is fairly unusual because I don’t normally make a big deal about birthdays, but I felt I had to push the boat out. I created my 50 things for 50 years bucket list, the 50 things I wanted to do throughout the year to mark the half-century. I was going to learn to ride a motorbike, get a tattoo, lose 50lbs, decorate my flat, go to a 5* spa… you can imagine the rest.
In March, when lockdown began, plans changed and my list went out the window. When June arrived and my holiday plans were cancelled, I decided I’d at least use my time well and start to paint my living room; after all, it was on my list. You can imagine the mess, dust sheets covered the floors and everything was shoved in a box out of the way as I set out to transform my magnolia walls. It was looking wonderful and I was strangely enjoying myself, then I heard this horrendous noise from the kitchen.
I stood there staring; water was pouring through my kitchen ceiling as plates fell, smashing on the floor. The kitchen cupboards were hanging off my wall, resting on top of my fridge freezer. Dashing outside, I saw my upstairs neighbour. The joiner had removed two nails from a pipe without first calling the plumber (bright spark!) and now the whole tank was emptying through my kitchen roof.
My neighbour was devastated and, to be honest, so was I. When the water had been cleaned up and broken dishes binned, my builder came to tell me the sad news that I’d need a new kitchen. As we chatted my neighbour said, ‘At least you will be covered. It was their fault, they will have to fix it.’ The housing association had put in a new kitchen upstairs and the joiner had punctured two pipes with nails, the slow leak causing most of the damage until the removal of the nails finished my kitchen off.
The Factor, who maintains the block of flats I live in, had been a massive seller for me when I was buying the flat. It seemed ideal – protection, coverage and the assurance the property would be maintained without having to argue with neighbours to get their share of the work – the Factor did it all and billed me twice a year. Like many people, I buy insurance for pretty much everything – pets, travel, my phone and so on – and because of the Factor, I also have building insurance. Insurance is one of those things you have to have and hope you never need.
So, in the middle of a pandemic, I was flooded, without a proper kitchen for five months, negotiating self-isolation rules and builders taking longer than I thought they would, before there eventually appeared a beautiful new kitchen. It is the cheapest model, but I’m still scared to use it in case I damage it! I also found out that the insurance company doesn’t want to pay out and I continue to fight that battle which I suspect I’ll lose.
A sense of security
Here’s the good thing about insurance: it brings a sense of security. We feel that if the worst happened, at least we’d be covered; that is until you try to claim.
If this global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there is only one thing in life that’s guaranteed. This tiny little virus isn’t just an inconvenience to work around; it has reminded us of the fragility of our mortality. At some point, we will all breathe our last breath. Nothing can prevent that from happening.
People are dying. We see the numbers rise every day in the headlines, but many are dying without the only eternal life insurance worth having – Jesus – yet we worry about leaving something for the kids and paying for our funeral, when we really should be worrying where we will spend eternity.
Paying the cost
My kitchen is a trifle compared to what others faced but the reality is, someone needs to pay for the damage. It couldn’t miraculously fix itself. Just like my kitchen, the damage and sin we inflict bear a cost. We can’t spin the truth to make it more palatable, no matter how ‘lovely’ we are. We have sinned against a holy God and that comes at great cost. We have to ask ourselves: are we prepared and able to pay the cost that God demands?
We put our hope in substandard insurers who ultimately disappoint. We might as well pay our monthly dues and cross our fingers, hoping for the best. Our hope shouldn’t be in a well-crafted policy document trying to cover every eventuality, making sure we have read all the small print. Our hope can’t be in good workmen who will come and fix the problem. We can’t even hope in ourselves which is the popular message of our day.
Jesus is the only real deal: always reliable, completely faithful and 100% trustworthy. He alone offers a unique hope. He paid the full premium for our sin, a price we could never pay on our own, dying a death on a cross, rising three days later and guaranteeing eternity with him for those who truly believe. He won’t refuse to pay out through a hidden clause or renege on his promises.
Repent and turn to him. He is the only assurance worth having.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them (John 3:36).