It’s tax time.I chafe paying the amount of taxes I do. I’m not an anarchist imagining “there’s no country… nothing to kill or die for and no religion too.” Nope, I’ve been there, done that! I do believe in giving back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. it’s just that Caesar is more and more of a greedy !*#?%!
My grousing isn’t new or partisan. Decades ago, I began a tradition on the eve prior to sending in my Federal Tax check. I’d be fully present and engaged with Lori and our girls. As bedtime approached I’d make the rounds tucking in, tickling, and kissing each “goodnight” with a prayer and the benediction, “sleep with the Angels”. Then I’d hunt down the pint of whiskey buried either in the back of the spice cabinet, under the kitchen sink right next to the fire extinguisher or in the garage stowed in our Earthquake/Riot/Economic-collapse emergency bin.
Now, this wasn’t some high-end trendy single malt scotch; it had to be, and continues to be a cantankerous cheap unrepentant low-end bourbon. I’d take the bottle, a glass and my Bible into our living room and park myself on the couch. The room was empty, quiet and dark. The street light in front of our home provided enough light for my passionate reading of 1 Samuel chapter 8.
Chapter 8 is the story of God’s people demanding a king to lead them instead of looking to and following God as their King. God’s response to their rejection is a solemn warning...
"This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief…”
Okay, every year at this point of the story I'm doing two things: I’m crying out for relief and wondering why? Why? Why did those schmucks choose a king over the King of Kings... the living God!!!
And the story continues…
...the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."
When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, "Listen to them and give them a king."
Here is where, according to tradition, I throw back a shot of my gnarly hooch and begin to rant, deprecate, fuss, protest, wail and yammer against the growing grip of kings… and all they take and all they waste. I growl at the fraud, corruption, pork, injustice, un-intended-consequences and incompetence of it all.
I may or may not have another slug, but what always happens as my evening ends is an agitation at the choice the luke-warm, half-hearted posing schmucks of 1 Samuel 8 made!
... And I'm shamed to silence confessing that I too choose some king, leader, expositor or the principles/tips/techniques/guru de rigueur over the sovereign fathering heart of God in the day to day world that is my life.
Hey... this walking with God is messy, mysterious, involves a Larger Story and often focused on internal realities... Right now I''d prefer a smaller story and a few external things to change right now... actually yesterday. I need relief, i need someone to lead me to the promised land as i envision it (and I have a extensive clear picture of how it ought to be), someone to go out before me and guarantee that If I follow him my entire life will be orgasmic bliss... with all my tormenting lions laying down with sheep... gimme someone who'll fight my battles victoriously for me .. or eliminate the battles all together... yeah, I want a chicken in my pot, a clean bill of health, a car that runs, a fat bank account... yeah baby, that's what I want in these chaotic times and circumstances! I want a king... a real life, flesh on flesh king and a new stereo! Promise this and you'll be my king!
And somewhere in all of that I turn from the One who gives life to some counterfeit "king" who takes all I have and all I am, leaving me with nothing.
Like my ancient forefathers, I'm crying out for relief.
Lord save me from my idolatry, forgive my waywardness, and know my heart, for it surely longs to surrender, abide, follow and give to You all that's due. You are my King, the Lord of Lords. I worship you!