I write this blog as I have just finished sending off my tax information. The due date of April 15th was changed to July 15th because of COVID 19. True to form, I still had to file an extension. Habit, I guess!
As I was sending off the documents a phrase from Scripture came to mind ... Mark 12:17 says, “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” Taxes go off to the government. We are all a bit reluctant to send them, but it probably beats the alternative. Even gangsters are afraid of the IRS. But this verse does beg a question ... "What is Caesar's and what is God's?"
I would like to say what John prays often on Wednesday night as he asks (for self and for others) "Lord ... take my life!" But I must say I am great at saying those words but not so great at giving with open hands to the God who will take all I give and turn it into beauty. I am much better at singing the old song ... "Some to Jesus, I surrender, some to Him I gladly give!" You get the point, I hope.
This little verse from Mark is more deep and more troubling than we would like to admit. As I sit here writing these words, I am questioning myself. Randy ... do you give God what is His? Do those songs of surrender flow much easier than the time, the resources, the love and the life that is all owed to God?
To send my taxes I scanned some documents and hit a button. Away the words went, into the ether of the digital world. I was trusting that those pages would end up just where I was sending them. It was as easy as the words to a pretty song. I heard a friend preach about the act of giving once. He said that the 'hands raised' with palms up was the appropriate gesture for prayer, praise and giving. The idea is that when the palms are up one can offer and receive in prayer ... in praise offer and show emptiness wishing to be filled ... in giving offering with no intention of taking back what is offered. While I didn't find lots of research on this, I do like the idea of giving to God with the idea that God will fill up my emptiness somehow. That God will send a response to my prayer. That God will send His blessing down as I lift my hands and heart in praise. I owe the IRS the taxes they are due. But I owe my very life and every good thing I have ever seen or felt to God. So today I will pray with hands lifted, palms up, knowing that God will take my prayer and redeem it so that goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Now that's a return on investment! Randy