Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rendering

At Jim and Anna's yesterday before lunch I blatantly admitted my plan to my hostess as I walked toward her back door. "I'm going to indulge in some garden jealousy." Problem was, when I got outside and actually beheld the garden, my joke turned into reality. Perfect, weedless rows. Plants that would tower over mine... I bent down to pick the needed cilantro and began singing my favorite song, just the chorus, which goes like this: "I repent. Open the eyes of my heart. I repent..."

I have a little bit of blog envy going on too. (I repent.) Annie-bug's blog constantly stays nicely updated. It seems one has the most to say when the most is happening, but that is when the least time is available to say it in. And so, during the last few weeks, my blog has been utterly silent exactly because I have so much to say. Counter-intuitive, eh?

Here's one of the things I have to say: I'm going to let $75 settle down into the dust, and I refuse to pursue its resurrection. Today was another lesson in dividing the heart from the things of this world. And at the end of it all, I decided to do what, for me, is opposite my natural instincts.

I spent $3.30 on an iced coffee to celebrate a $500 blow to my bank account. Wait--I can explain!

It's car-registration time in Missouri, which also happens to be the land of "personal property tax", a yearly tax assessed on depreciable items like cars. Crazy to begin with. I braced for the ordeal in the morning, then headed out to get my car inspected (who knows what hundreds of dollars the mechanics might find in "needed" repairs) and a property tax paper stating I didn't owe any tax, before going to actually get the new plates.

I prayed for favor, followed Lance's advice to "dress nice", and discovered the only things wrong with my car were a bad brake light bulb and a wiggly wiperblade. All told, the "repairs" only cost me $11.00 in parts, since the mechanic smiled, held a "shh" finger to his lips, and charged me nothing for the labor. First hurdle jumped (although I did wonder what he expected from me...and began to pray that the Lord would let me someday see a man be super-kind to an ugly woman--now that would be beautiful. does anyone know? what do men expect when they do something nice like that? they know they're never going to see the girl again, don't they?).

Anyway, on to the personal property tax people, where I was stridently informed that because I had never registered my car in another state, even when I moved away from Missouri, I owed taxes as if I had been living in state. On top of that, though a tax bill had never been sent to me, I owed penalties and interest for being late! I have no problem with paying the taxes...if that's the law, that's the law (as I said to lady behind the counter, "render unto Caesar..." I don't think she recognized the reference). But to pay late penalties on a bill they admit they never issued me, now that seems a bit outrageous.

Outrageous or not, by the time I got home I was $490 dollars poorer. And so I celebrated. Again -- I can explain. There is a caveat to this story:

Several months ago the Federal government had sent me a letter saying "we think we owe you more money on your tax return...please fill out this form." Shocked and fully believing they were 100% misguided, I filled it out and sent it back in. Then several weeks ago, I got a check in the mail for $450. It wasn't until a day later (and multiple conversations with Wendy in which I declared that I'd already been given my tax return and that I had to call the IRS because this money obviously belonged to a different Amy Peterson) that I remembered that little form I had filled out. Wow. At about the same time, the car-registration notice arrived in the mail and a little feeling began to form in my gut...

God had given me money ahead of time to pay the taxes I would probably owe.

Wendy insisted it was for me to buy a digital camera (at least one of my blog-readers has noticed the dearth of photos herein), but something told me otherwise...a "something" which was proved right today.

Remember how, along with telling people to "render until Caesar that which is Caesar and unto God that which is God's," Jesus also sent Peter off to find a particular little fish that was swimming about with gold-coin-provision in its mouth? He did that for me today! I guess the money was Caesar's, but God provided it for me (and from another Caesar, to boot)! Hooray! ... Well, at least some of it was Caesar's. I could really take issue with that $75 worth of penalties, and I have the address where I'm supposed to go to plead the case with the higher-ups. But being tired in general, I'm tired of such things. I'm tired of fighting my own fights. Let God fight them. I'm tired of wanting my own way. Let God choose circumstances. I'm tired of thinking I know the best way for it all to come together. Let God make His plans. And even (gasp) when it comes to injustices, I have lost the need for them to be righted here on the unredeemed earth. They will all be righted, and righted in a much better way than I could currently bring about in this world. I'm ok with waiting a bit for that "righting". So, go down to the dust, seventy-five dollars! I don't want you! I want a heart that longs for Jesus Himself instead of for my own rights, and for His heart to beat inside of me instead of for my own self to stay alive. Money-shmoney, as my sister would say.

So, I did what is foreign to me (the spending of any money at all is generally foreign to me, as my family and friends will attest), and celebrated God's ahead-of-time-goodness by splurging on an iced coffee at Higher Grounds today with Annie and Glorie (MissBe got strawberry milk, of course). Because I've noticed something else -- God's celebrations in the scriptures always seem to involve feasting. And what better way for me to feast than by pounding the final nail into the coffin containing the idolization of money?

I'm sorry there are still no photos in this blog, but I trust you'll agree with me, the gold was for Caesar. (Now if I can only remember to actually screw the new plates on the car before the old ones expire... :)