Saturday, April 30, 2016

Faith Does Not Necessarily Precede the Miracle

A few weeks ago, I came to the sudden realization that I hadn't filed my local income tax return.

Because I'd recently moved, I had to spend some time digging through boxes to try and find my W-2, but it seemed that I'd misplaced it.  I found W-2s going back to 2010, but nothing for 2015.  I thought maybe I'd left it at my old apartment, but that theory turned out to be a bust.  Somewhere along the line, I must have accidentally thrown it out.

I considered calling up my company's payroll department and asking them to mail me another one, but there was no way it would arrive in time for me to do my taxes before the deadline.  I couldn't believe that I had been stupid enough to put my W-2 in the trash, but it didn't seem to be anywhere.  I had no idea what to do.

And then, in the middle of the night, it came to me—I'd used my W-2 as proof of income when I'd submitted my renter's application.  I had a scan of it on my computer somewhere.  The next morning, I searched my hard drive, found my W-2, and submitted my tax return on its due date.  Happy ending.

It felt exactly like a miraculously answered prayer would have felt ten years ago, but I hadn't prayed.  And I doubt God would be interested in helping a stubborn apostate like me out of such a minor predicament.  But the relief I felt was intensely similar to the relief I felt when I climbed into bed at night as a teenager, knelt under the covers, and expressed my gratitude to my Heavenly Father for making that day at school not so miserable.  Only this time, my gratitude was aimless.

I eventually settled on being grateful that my memory kicked in when I needed it the most, even though it had taken its sweet time and completely struck out on remembering where the physical copy of the W-2 had gone.

Ten years ago, this would have been a testimony-affirming miracle for me.  But it took place in a godless religious vacuum.  From beginning to end, everything felt the same except that there was no prayer involved.  The emotional journey, so to speak, was nearly identical.

If it can happen without prayer, maybe it was happening before despite prayer.  If it happens despite prayer, what's the point of praying?


  1. I hope you sold a ton of books to have to pay taxes on. If not, I hope you got a nice return.

    A few weeks ago, my wife couldn't find something we desperately needed for my daughter's birthday. I had 5 minutes to help her and frantically looked "everywhere." I finally decided to pause for a deep breath and a quick moment of reflection (not a prayer). I found it in 15 seconds.

    Then last week, I was looking for my son's pay stubs. I found all but one. I looked in every place I thought it could be. Then again, I stopped to think. At that moment, I realized there was no stub for that week because of a vacation. I never would've found one.

    Also, last week I found a set of misplaced car keys without prayer.

    Final verdict: the God of the Lost Car Keys is superstition.

    1. So basically, people misplace things all the time and occasionally find them. No big mystery as to how that happens. I guess some people just misplace the credit when they find the misplaced objects!