Don’t be Scared

I was thinking…


It’s the season for scary movies and costumes. Even in the Philippines the Halloween marketers are starting to import the “traditions” of pumpkin carving, costumes and candy (whereas traditionally, Nov 1 is the big deal here, a time to visit the family graves)

But what is the scariest thing you can think of? That’s right….

A Letter from the IRS!

Nobody wants to get that letter. Your heart stops. It’s almost always bad news and initiates a problem that is not easy to resolve. That happened to us a few months ago. Actually it was not the IRS, but the Franchise Tax Board of California. Same thing, though. Really scary. But there was a great spiritual lesson in there, too.


In late 2008 we got “the letter.” It said that the FTB had not received our 2005 return (mailed from overseas). So they were estimating our tax owed based on our total gross income for 2004. This was scary, since we normally don’t pay much of any state taxes because we work overseas.

So we mailed a new copy of our return. A few weeks later I phone the FTB to see if they had received it. They were actually very helpful and said it was too early to see it “in the system.” So the guy gave me an extension until the end of January 2009 and said to call back.

I called in January and “the system” asked me my SS number, so they now who I am. Then the friendly robotic voice told me that I “owed nothing” and the “situation was resolved.” I was relieved to be told that “No further action was required” by me.


Then we started getting letters telling us we still owed the money.

Every time we called the tax board, they would look up my account based on my SS and tell me, I “owed nothing” and there no record of the case pending.

Then we’d get more letters telling us we owed the money and threatened to place a lien on any California property we owned.

You guessed it. When I called them, I owed nothing.

I called the FTB back and they could not find any record that I owed anything. No lien had been filed against my SS number. They referred me to a higher level guy who helped me track it down.

Here’s what happened. Our return was filed and entered into “the system” and so my SS was clear. The debt was removed from my account.

But… the “come after you” department had kept rolling along because someone entered my SS number with two digits reversed. But their scary letters did not have my SS number on them (for security in the mail), so we never noticed. The letters did not apply to me, although they had my name on them and were being sent me at my address.

The cleared account was associated with my SS number (i.e. “me.”) But the debt collection and the lien were listed against some other person’s SS number. They had a lien filed against them by the state of California and they may even live in New Jersey!

The whole thing made me think of our salvation. Since we have been studying the book of Romans in a weekly Bible study here, my mind went to that…

My sin was placed on Christ… charged to his account. And he paid the penalty for it (death). And it was marked as “all clear” on my account, which has been credited with his righteousness. Don’t believe me? Look up my spiritual SS number and you will see: Nothing Owed… No Further Action Required. There is no pending case filed against me. There is not even any record of the original charges. God will “never again remember my sins and lawless deeds.

So when Satan (or my conscience) wave the collection letters in my face or try to scare me with penalties and action to be taken, I can tell them, “Yes, you’re mailing that to me, but that’s not my account. That debt has been paid.”

It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Now the truly scariest thing is no longer frightening. I can ignore the accuser and his scary mask. The case against me is no longer valid. It’s no more real than a treat or treater’s monster mask.

And once again, the reason we’re over here translating God’s Word for the Palawanos is so they can hear this marvelous message. So their “spiritual SS numbers” can be cleared of all charges against them and they can have eternal life.

Today in church the message was on Romans 5 and it made me put together some thoughts that connect with what we’ve been translating in Luke 22 concerning Jesus’ prayerful agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But that’s another blog…


About billdavisthoughts

From San Diego, CA. I've been a missionary and Bible translator in the Philippines for over 30 years and have travelled as a language learning consultant to 15 countries. I play piano and guitar. I write, read voraciously and love to work on word puzzles. Married for 35 years, we have two daughters and two grandchildren.
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