“You’re taxes are done,” she said over the phone. Cue fight-or-flight reaction.
I was terrified about our taxes this year (as opposed to just being afraid the other years.) Our circumstances had changed drastically, in addition to the new tax law changes. We had made adjustments to our quarterly tax payments, but in my wildest imagination, I pictured the accountant saying, “You owe $15,000.”
It was a ten-minute drive from our house to the tax office. Ten minutes before I would know the outcome. My knee-jerk reaction involved profuse sweating and heart palpitations.
Except I realized this was a precious time –the time of not knowing. It was an opportunity for me either to cave in to panic or to worship.
I could hear the calm voices of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (You don’t mind if I compare going to the accountant over taxes to being thrown into the fiery furnace, do you?)
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3:17-18 NIV)
They could have freaked out. I wouldn’t have blamed those three guys for having a full-blown panic attack. But they had stood in worship of the true God, so why fall to their knees now? (Maybe anxiety is some kind of golden image, and when the horns and harps and all kinds of instruments play we’re just expected to drop to our knees and worship it.)
This is a lesson on outcomes: maybe God will save us from the worst that could happen. Maybe not.
Dallas Willard, in Life without Lack, says:
Let the worst happen! Let the worst happen, and God and I will go on together in the abundance of his being.
On my way to the tax office, I reasoned that it was possible we had miscalculated our quarterly payments and would owe thousands, but surely God would help us get through that. Or at best we wouldn’t have to pay anything. That was my dream. But no matter. Either way I could worship the God who takes cares of his people.
So I worshiped. Ten minutes of drawing from the deep well of Bible verses tucked away in my heart. Ten minutes of remembering that God can do the impossible and that he never leaves his people and that he loves us and is watching over our lives.
Ten beautiful minutes in a Mitsubishi sanctuary. Glory came down.
That brings me to today and the three people on my prayer list who desperately need jobs sooner rather than later. Do you know what I’m praying for them? Well certainly that God will provide jobs, and of course he will take care of that. But more of my energy is going toward praying for these three people–who feel like maybe they’re on their way to the fiery furnace–that they will stand and worship. I’m praying their chins will lift and their eyes turn to heaven and that this heart-stopping waiting time will be glorious.
Because I’m discovering that the weeks and months and days right before the outcome are the sweet spot of knowing God. This is when we can show him that we absolutely trust him and think he’s wonderful. Anyone could love God when all turns out well and the ending is hunky dory, but we can demonstrate deep, sincere love for our Lord when we worship just before we know our fate.
If you’re in that waiting place today, I urge you to stand. Stand and worship. Do not drop to your knees in fear of the false, disappointing god of anxiety. You’ll miss out on all the goodness of what it means to know God in the uncertainty.
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