One of the most bizarre and intriguing stories in the Gospels is when Jesus has Peter pay the temple tax with a money he finds in a fish’s mouth!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story here it is:
Matthew 17:24-27 Then when they arrived at Capernaum the Temple tax-collectors came up and said to Peter, “Your master doesn’t pay Temple-tax, we presume?” “Oh, yes, he does!” replied Peter. Later when he went into the house Jesus anticipated what he was going to say. “What do you think, Simon?” he said. “Whom do the kings of this world get their rates and taxes from—their own people or from others?” “From others,” replied Peter. “Then the family is exempt,” Jesus told him. “Yet we don’t want to give offense to these people, so go down to the lake and throw in your hook. Take the first fish that bites, open his mouth and you’ll find a coin. Take that and give it to them, for both of us.”
He doesn’t just teach us a philosophy about money. In this moment He demonstrates how silly our anxiety toward finances can be and how whimsical and extravagant the Father is in His provision.
A lesson he’d have me experience.
(Please note, I wrestled a bit about sharing specific numbers. It’s a little personal, but in the end I concluded that this is His story, not mine, and I think being specific will show just how incredible God is.)
It all started when…
Wednesday April 5th, 2:10pm.
I get this email from my CPA.
That “little fatty of a payment” he’s referring to?
I click the link and discover it is tax bill that equals a hearty $14,332. Gulp. How does one end up with a $14k tax bill? Well…I have a temporary tattoo business that really ramped up towards the end of 2016, so I knew I’d have to pay up, but that amount was substantially more than what I calculated I would owe.
In that moment, my heart was racing. Just three years before my total income was the about the same as what I will now owe the IRS. I’m just not used to dealing in these kinds of numbers and I’m getting a little bit nervous…
DJ TanneR & Instagram
Wednesday April 5th 2:32pm. Still overwhelmed by the news I got 22 minutes ago. I get this text from my sister Rachel.
To be frank, I hadn’t really kept up with Candace Cameron’s career since Full House ended in 1995. I know she’s a Christian and is still acting, but I have no grid to comprehend what is about to happen. I pull up Instagram on my phone, search for Candace Cameron, and there it is…Candace Cameron posted about our temporary tattoos.
Her profile and she has over 2 million followers. “This is insane” I think to myself. “When did Candace Cameron order tattoos from us?” I look through our orders and find that Candace Cameron had indeed bought some tattoos from our website nearly 6 months ago and I had no idea.
My Mom & Amazon
Wednesday April 5th 2:52pm
I get this text message from my mom…
A little context here. Things started picking up for the business in July 2016 and I needed help. So like anyone else, I asked my mom. She’s been running our operations with one of her friends ever since.
This particular week had been a little slow, so my mom was just about to wrap up her work for the day and head down to the post office to drop off the day’s orders, but as soon as Candace Cameron posted on Instagram, orders started coming in literally every minute. She was trying to fill them as fast as she could!
And it wasn’t stopping. I’m looking at our reports and we’re doing a week’s worth of revenue in a couple hours. This graph will give you some context for just how dramatic the Candace Cameron bump was for us!
I check our Amazon account next and realize everything we had in stock had sold out in a matter of hours.
After about four days things settled back to a bit more normal of a revenue pattern for us but I went back and calculated just how significant this Instagram post was for us.
Website Sales: $12,199.95
Amazon Sales: $2,703.54
Total Sales: $14,903.49
When I saw that number, I started laughing. More classic Jesus!
In that moment I realized He was teaching me again that His provision is extravagant and whimsical. Sometimes your tax bill is in a fish’s mouth, other times it’s in a Candace Cameron Instagram post that is nearly simultaneous to the timing and amount of your tax bill.
Certainly there’s an opportunity to be cynical or skeptical about this story and really you get to choose. The message here isn’t that you shouldn’t be responsible about preparing for taxes, or that there isn’t Biblical wisdom to being financially wise and a good steward of resources.
The message is we can have the same perspective towards money that Jesus does.
The resources of the Kingdom of Heaven are more than enough for His work in your life and mine. We can seek first His Kingdom and trust that everything we need will be added.
Sometimes it’s finances, sometimes it’s a friendship or other relationship, sometimes it’s the ability to forgive. Our Father knows exactly what we need. He cares and He has the power to provide.
Our highest calling isn’t to be self sufficient, but rather utterly dependent on receiving our daily bread from The Bread of Life.
What would it look like for you to live your life from a place of believing in the Father’s abundance…?