29 May I Will Rescue You..
It’s a chilly weekday, some time in mid-October.
I’m going about my morning tasks when I receive a call. It’s a man. He doesn’t seem to know me personally, but definitely knows my name. And when he asks, I confirm that it’s me on the line.
He has some news.
“I’m calling on behalf of BH&T Advocates*,” he says. “I’ve been retained to deliver a letter to you, in person. Where is your office?”
I’m taken aback.
Blows, Hammer & Tongs Advocates happen to be one of the most prominent, no-nonsense law firms I know, and for sure I have had no dealings with them.
“What does it say?” I manage.
“When can I come to your office?” he retorts.
I’m not sure I want to meet someone bearing a missive from that firm. But I sense this is serious, so I explain that I no longer have an office, since I closed my business about three years ago, but we can certainly meet elsewhere.
Seemingly convinced that I’m not about to bolt, he yields.
“The letter is a judgement against you by the Magistrate’s Court, concerning a debt you owe a bank,” he explains. “I need to serve it to you in person.”
My hands break out in sweat, and I’m caught between shock and fear. The kind delinquent debtors countrywide know by name.
I remember that debt – it happened a few months before I closed my struggling business. There was no money in my account, but somehow my bank made a large payment on my behalf. I noticed the error as soon as it happened but I convinced myself that there was no need to inform the bank, since I would pay it back soon. Very, very soon.
Well, somehow the bank didn’t notice until months later, and by then my business had folded and, with all the difficulties I was facing, the memory soon faded away.
But I remember all of this now, as the fruits of my delinquency stare me in the face.
The man promptly suggests an address where we can meet – the good offices of Blows, Hammer & Tongs.
I’m terrified, not sure what to do but something tells me to accept to meet. We settle on the day after next.
I’m already dreading the meeting and can just see myself at a Debtors’ Minimum Penitentiary for the Financially Impaired, somewhere far, far away. In Maralal or something.
I decide to pray.
And the Lord immediately makes known His position:
“You know that the debt is yours,” He says. “Go to the meeting, take full responsibility and commit to a repayment plan with your Lender.”
Simple, clear instructions. But I’m so nervous, I call my lawyer.
I explain the situation and tell her I’m planning to negotiate with Messrs Hammer & Tongs, but I don’t tell her how I’ve come to this decision, in case she thinks I’m bonkers.
Bad idea, she says.
“What that judgement means,” she explains, “is that the firm can take any action against you, at any time, to recover the debt, with no further reference to you or the courts.”
She warns that they will make me commit to a repayment plan in writing, and will come after me with the proverbial hammer and tongs, should I fail to make even one tiny payment.
She therefore strenuously advises that we file a formal response in court, forthwith.
I imagine Messrs Hammer & Tongs chasing me down Moi Avenue with sadistic auctioneers, as my kids tremble in the back seat of my car.
Among other distressing scenarios.
So I think long and hard, and prevaricate for some time. Perhaps my lawyer knows a thing or two that Heaven might have overlooked.
But faith prevails, if somewhat shakily.
I speak to my husband and despite his initial misgivings, we come to an agreement on how to make the payments. I call my lawyer and inform her of our decision.
“I hope you fully understand what you’re saying,” she warns, clearly underwhelmed.
Oh gosh, now I’m even more worried. So I pray again.
But the Lord doesn’t appear to have changed His mind, so on the appointed day I present myself at the good offices of Blows, Hammer & Tongs.
I step into their plush reception where two well-dressed ladies smile up at me. I walk up to one of them and explain my mission. Her smile fades somewhat and she points to a seat.
“Wait there,” she says.
I fidget a little as I wait. The man soon arrives and the receptionist promptly motions towards a door on her right. The one on her left leads to some really smart offices, where I can see ladies and gents of the bar politely serving their well-heeled clients.
But the one on the right..
I feel every bit the decrepit debtor as the man and I go through it. He escorts me down some musky stairs into what is surely the gateway to Debtors’ Minimum.
No smiles here. Just a number of tight, wooden cubicles manned by a couple of hostile employees.
He leads me to one of them. She’s an elderly lady, and I can’t help but wonder why she hasn’t retired yet. She seems well aware of my case – pulls out my file and begins to display letters, emails, court filings and all manner of correspondence I’ve never seen in my life. I try to explain that I closed all these mail boxes together with my business.
“Oh really,” she grunts.
I guess we debtors don’t have much of a reputation around here.
The man leaves me in her hands, and I begin to explain my proposed plan. But, to my surprise, the woman leans over and advises me not to commit to such high monthly installments.
“Just in case something happens and you’re not able to pay,” she warns, conspiratorially.
I’m inclined to agree, and we begin the process of registering my commitment, in writing. I sign this, that and the other, while the woman follows closely with her stamp.
Bang bang bang! Messrs Blows, Hammer & Tongs are now boldly emblazoned across my signature.
I might as well prepare to check into Debtors’ Minimum myself, should I skip even one of these payments!
But for the next year or so, Brethren, the Lord somehow enables me to keep my promise and pay my monthly commitment, despite my financial impairment. As life would have it, I miss the due date for one or two of them, but Messrs Hammer & Tongs simply send a polite reminder on both occasions.
And when I have paid the debt in full, I’m thoroughly relieved to receive an email from my erstwhile Lender.
It’s addressed to the Resident Magistrate’s Court, with a copy to me.
“We have now received full payment of the decretal amount in this case,” it says. “Please mark the case as settled.”
I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4 (b)
*I trust you’re aware that these are not the good Advocates’ real names.