The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
“For every animal in the forest is mine and the cattle on a thousand hills”
Working in the US was quite lucrative. Though my salary was not that high in American terms it was more than I could expect in the UK and since I was expecting to return I determined not to get used to the American salary. One of the consequences of this was that I was able to give away quite a bit, between 20-30%. In giving money like this, I thought that I was doing quite well, and that this at least was one of the areas of life that God would not have any lessons to teach me. It is amazing how naive one can be.
After a couple of years in the states, a rather concerned comptroller (accounts manager) came and asked if he could see me privately. He had just received a letter from the tax people to the effect that they should start deducting a considerable amount of money from my income in order to pay off unpaid tax. This was quite a bolt from the blue. They had apparently been trying to get in touch with me, but I had moved and had not passed on a forwarding address.
I was quite upset about what had happened. It was not that I would be poor, I had been saving and there was sufficient in the savings account to pay off the debt in a stroke. It was not even that I had some great plan for that money. No, the issue was, who was going to get it. If God had wanted me to give it to some charity or needy person, that would have been fine. I could understand that and I suppose that it would have fitted in with my view of God. This however was to the government. Surely they of all people had enough. Could God, really want them to have it?
I struggled with this issue for some time until finally I had to conclude that the real issue was that I was treating the money like mine. If it was mine then I should have some say in what should happen to it. The reality however was that the money was not mine but God’s. “The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it”. We look to him to provide and in his amazing ways he does. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights ..” He has always been a generous father to me. Ultimately then I had to be reconciled to the fact that he does as he chooses. If my gracious father who had been so generous wanted to give part of this generous gift to the United States government, then so be it.
After a little investigation I discovered where the tax office was and went to visit them, cheque book in hand and ready to pay up. As always, things are never that simple. They wanted to ask me questions. Why hadn’t I paid any taxes the previous year? But I had! Well, on the computer it showed that no W-2 form was handed in with the tax return. I looked through my papers, you mean this? Yes, that was it and now having handed in that bit of paper there was no problem and nothing to pay!
So, God brought a problem to me in order to show up my attitude. When the attitude was dealt with the problem evaporated. What is more, in going to the tax office I was told that I had to do a more complicated tax form next year. When I did it, I discovered that I could reclaim hundreds of dollars of tax, each year! Having dealt with the issue he could entrust more money to me that would be available to him!