Do you remember when you got your first real paycheck? I started mowing yards when I was 9 or 10 with my brother but my first job that gave me a paycheck was when I was 12 or 13 and started bussing tables at “The Great American Hamburger and Soda Fountain Restaurant” in Eastwood Mall. I had to get a Work Permit to let me do it. I remember doing the math: If I work 20 hours in a week and I make (I think it was) $2.60 an hour and I get a paycheck for two weeks at a time I will make $104! And then I got that check and it was for like $85-90, what? It had all sort of weird words on it to me like FICA and Alabama State Income Tax, Withholding Tax. So for nearly 45 years now I’ve looked at my pay stubs. Sometimes I’ve thought, “man, I wish I made as much as that first line says.” Other times I’ve breathed a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings afforded me in this land that some of those taxes help make possible. But I have a confession to make today.
Don’t tell the IRS but all of my pay is not reflected in my pay-stub! No, I’m not getting unreported income under the table or tips for my sermons on Sunday (yeah, I get tips but not the money kind :)). But I am getting stuff for which the IRS has no reporting form.
I get to watch a dad baptize his daughter into Christ and weep tears of joy.
I get to be the first to see a newborn as mom and dad proudly show off and take a picture with the preacher.
I get to pray beside the bed of a deeply loved saint about ready to meet God.
I get to be confronted by the Word of God IN my Work.
I get to stand in front of people and bring a Message of God’s Grace.
I get to hear a sound more beautiful than angels singing, as I prepare to walk onto the stage each Sunday and listen to our teens praise God with others in song.
I get to work with the best folks in the world on the best Projects.
I get to be with people at the greatest moments of their lives.
I get to share with people in their hurt.
I get to get high fives from kids and hugs from little old ladies.
I get grace from God AND His People.
I get a front row seat in God’s working in people’s lives.
I get to be God’s Man in front of people even though I am very human, and their respect spurs me to higher living.
Not sure how to report all of that to the IRS, so I’ll just tell God thank You and spend the rest of my life “working” off that big ole unrepayable debt.