Saturday, April 18, 2009

No Taxing Duty

A couple of days ago Bary and I went to see a tax preparer. April 15 is always a day of mixed emotions for us. Our daughter Jordan was born on April 15, so we always have reason to celebrate. But there have been plenty of times when we met the day with a grimace, too, as we mailed off a tax payment that took a hefty bite out of our bank account.

While Jordan was celebrating her birthday with her husband at Disneyland this year, Barry and I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon with a tax preparer. Although we rarely file early, never have we waited to the very last minute for the paperwork. What a relief it was to find a tax preparer willing to squeeze us in on April 15—with a mere two-days notice!

Our tax preparer, a Christian, was a pleasant and efficient multi-tasker. He and Barry talked while he worked, chatting a little about what we were going to owe Uncle Sam, but mostly about things far more important: Barry told him about New Day Church, and he told us about the church where he worships. In between his calculations, I think all of us realized anew where mundane civil obligations end and something much bigger and all-consuming takes over. In Matthew 22:21, Jesus instructed us to “’give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s’” (NIV).

Jesus reminded us to meet our obligations, whatever they are, but to put them in their proper place. Taking a few hours to get our taxes done was necessary—and I immediately drove by the post office to mail off what we owed. But I left that place reminded that I owe God so much more. And as we discussed our mutual desires to see God glorified through our churches, Barry was eager to get on with his real job. Meeting our obligations to God is a big, all-consuming task because He deserves everything we’ve got: our money, our time, our energy, our hearts. Without a doubt, I short-change my Creator at times.

But, in truth, most of the time serving God doesn’t feel like an obligation; it’s a privilege. I know that Barry is delighted to pastor New Day Church. I’m with him. It feels less like a demand that I’m meeting to serve God than a way for Him to bless me. So it is with every facet of the Christian life. Breathing prayers, striving to be holy, loving people … our obligations to God are not the drudge of life, they are the simple pleasures. I am blessed, and, if you know Him and are serving Him, you are, too.