I respect Benjamin Franklin, but I disagree with this quote. There is something more certain than death and taxes – God’s word. Whatever God says is true. Every single word from God is the same as a promise. If He tells you something, you can count on it. There is nothing more certain in all the world. I know this from experience.
Let me share a true story with you.
One week ago today, Thursday night of last week to be exact, I sat down to do my taxes, excited at the prospect of receiving a refund, anticipating the amount that I’d receive to help pay off some debt and “catch up” financially. I always look forward to tax season, because I always get a refund. Actually, it is something that I have come to expect because for the 18 years that I’ve been working and filing taxes, I have never failed to receive a refund. That is, never. . . until now. So, you can imagine my shock as I entered my information and watched the amount that I owed get larger with each W-2. You see, I don’t earn very much money. In fact, my total earnings for 2011 were $14,406. So, my expectation in getting a refund is not unreasonable or unrealistic, it’s simply a fact of life. By the time I had finished my taxes, I had discovered that I owe both federal and state taxes for a combined total that is significantly more than I earn in a two week pay period.
Most people don’t know my financial situation. It’s not something I really talk about, but I’m going to be completely open here. Over a period of three months, from September through December of 2011, my income was reduced to approximately half of what it was before. During the whole Minnesota budget shutdown, some legislation was passed that significantly reduced funding for mental health services. As a result, I received a pay cut ($1.50 per hour reduction) and my weekly work schedule was reduced from 33 to 18 hours per week. So, things have been super tight for me financially. Pretty much every penny that I earn is accounted for, and as far as my debt is concerned, I barely make a dent in it. Even so, things have been okay. I have survived far tougher times than this. Everything always ends up working out.
Now, back to my tax problem. . .
I thought, “There must be some mistake.” Then I proceeded to do some investigating and noticed that the numbers on one of my W-2s seemed wrong. For $7,700 in earnings, only $45 had gone to federal taxes and only $25 to state taxes. I thought, “This can’t be right.” So, I proceeded to look through all of my pay stubs from that employer. As I checked them, I learned that (with the exception of one check in July) the pay period ending on March 11 was the last time that any taxes had come out of my paychecks. I was floored! I didn’t understand how this could have happened, and I was very upset. I thought that my employer must have made a mistake by not taking taxes out of my earnings; but I knew that mistake or not, I would still have to pay. I cried as I told my roommates what had happened. I had no idea how I could possibly gather together the amount of money that I owed. As I cried and talked with them, I said something like, “God is going to have to do something about this, because I can’t. I don’t have that kind of money. I need a financial miracle.” When I said this, it wasn’t just lip service. I really meant it. You see, only a week earlier, on Monday, I had received a blessing in the mail. It was a card from a friend with a check for $100.
The following morning, Friday, I awoke with an overpowering sense of peace from God. When I thought about my problem, I no longer felt any stress. It didn’t make any sense, but I just knew that everything was going to work out somehow. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7). I later remembered my dream and understood why I felt so peaceful. In the dream, I was really stressed out; and I received a text message from my friend, Andrew. The message said, “You have nothing to be afraid of.” As soon as I read the text, I was encouraged. All of my stress instantly disappeared and was replaced with joy. That’s all. I know that God was speaking to me through this dream. It was very simple, yet very effective. The name Andrew means strong, courageous, and warrior. God was reminding me that He fights for me and that He’s got it all under control. I received this in faith, believing that He was going to move on my behalf.
On Sunday morning, I received even further encouragement. Before I went onstage to sing with the worship team, Vicki prayed for me and told me that she saw a rainbow of bright colors surrounding me. I immediately remembered a situation approximately six years ago, when God used rainbows as a sign to speak encouragement to my spirit – specifically about His promises of provision. So, when Vicki told me that she saw me surrounded with bright rainbow colors, I knew God was reminding me that I am in the place of promise. I am completely surrounded, right in the center of His promises. As I recognized this, a joyful excitement began to rise up inside of me. I went onstage and began to worship with Leah, Julia and the rest of the team. As we entered into worship together, Cyndi stepped out onto the dance floor and began to dance with flags in her hands – rainbow colored flags – which reinforced the word that I’d just received through Vicki. From that moment on, I remained in a state of excited anticipation concerning my tax problem. I was expecting God to do something, and I was really excited to see how He was going to come through for me.
The following morning, Monday of this week, I had a meeting with my boss to figure out what happened. As it turns out, there was no mistake. The numbers were correct. The problem was with my filing status and the fact that I was working fewer hours and making less money. Apparently, under my filing status, I wasn’t making enough money for taxes to be deducted from my earnings. So, I went ahead and changed my filing status in order to prevent this from happening again next tax season. Then my boss told me that she had just received a call from her boss allowing her to add a staff to work the shift on alternating Friday mornings. She offered it to me and I gladly accepted. The work would definitely help. Thank you, Jesus!
But that’s not the end of the story. . .
Every morning, I read a chapter in Psalms, a chapter in Proverbs, and a short Joyce Meyer devotional on my cell phone (starting in December), along with any other areas of scripture that I feel led to read. On Tuesday, as I had my quiet time with the Lord and did my reading, the key scriptures from my devotional were verses from the Psalm that I had read for the day. It was the first time that has happened where both readings contained the same verses. Excited, and full of joy, I posted the following status on Facebook.Within ten minutes of posting this status, I received a phone call from my boss. She said that if I wanted to, I could work the morning shift every Friday instead of just on alternating Fridays. Again, I gladly accepted. I’m not sure what changed within 24 hours that allowed her to offer me the shift on every Friday, but it was exactly what I needed. Working this additional eight hours a week, I should be able to gather the money that I owe in taxes in about a month’s time. Praise the Lord! And that’s my story! I know it was a long one. Thanks for sticking with me and reading to the end. I hope that your faith is stirred and your spirit refreshed. I also want to encourage you to hold on to the promises of God in your life. Believe the things that He tells you! His words are true – they are promises – and He always keeps His promises. You can count on it!