To followers of my FB page, our tax odyssey is well-known. The short of it is this: clergy taxes are difficult and I thought we were facing a bill of over $5,000. On the final review of said taxes, some sort of error was discovered and the bill went down to around $500. Fabulous, right? Wonderful? Worth a celebration, right? But not what we’d call a miracle, agreed? Stuff like this happens. But to claim, God made that happen to reward you for righteouness is asinine. First off, I’m not righteous. Second
But check this. Yesterday, we got a refund check from the insurance company for almost exactly the amount we owe. Like, within ten bucks. And, logically, I can know that this is pretty explainable as well: a similar check arrived last year because I was double-charged for insurance when switching plans within the same company. The timing, though. I had to apply for an extension; wait for two different accountants to look over the taxes; and then receive the news within the same 7 day period as the check came in. That’s some pretty wild ish, I don’t care who you are.
I’m not saying what I have experienced is a miracle. I use that term to get your attention. To pull you into the conversation. But I’m not not saying it. What is a miracle, anyway?
A miracle is something unexpected. I understand how someone can look at the series of events I experienced and chalk it up to coincidence. I rationally comprehend that and make no judgment about people who would make such an assessment.
For me, though, I see something beyond randomness and chaos. I see a lesson in patience. I see an affirmation that sacrificing financial benefits so as to be of service, to follow in the example of Christ, to seek out justice, does not necessitate financial ruin. I see yet another evidence-based example for why I believe things will work out well if I continue to do good; I see the wisdom in Jesus beseeching me to consider the lilies of the field.
And perhaps I am deluding myself. Perhaps I am constructing a psychological system in which justification for my own decisions is wrought from the experiences in my life, such that I use my life to justify my suppositions and my suppositions to justify my life. Maybe so. But I honestly don’t care. I feel connected to the experience of life; I feel connected to others. I feel that I am able to live–for whatever reason–in a situation such that I have my basic needs met which frees me up to follow Christ as authentically as I know how. I do not know why I have these blessings. I cannot argue my worth over and against someone else’s. And I think it is a waste of time to think on it any longer. I have these specific blessings. The God I serve is not an ATM, but when I refuse to serve Mammon things work out. Somehow. I pray not for these miracles, but for the strength to serve. For the patience to be present. For the opportunity to shine light and love where there are shadows and anguish.
Miracle or coincidence? I don’t know. But believing in miracles makes me look more closely, to listen more attentively, to infuse more things with holiness and intentional energy. I don’t judge the miracles, I simply affirm and acknowledge them even if others see something different. That’s fine. Things are going to be what they are regardless of our opinions.