When we started having kids we started paying a little less in taxes. Getting a tax deduction certainly wasn’t why we were getting down to kid-making business, mind you. But it was a perk.

About 30 years ago we filed our taxes as parents of a new little Ronning and got $500 reduced from our taxable income. Over the years, with some political maneuvering by folks in DC and some, um, nighttime maneuvering by Teri and I, the amount of the deduction grew as did the size of our family.

Today the deduction is up to $3500 per kid. I’m considering having my vasectomy reversed.

The thought doesn’t last long. I guess I just don’t like to pay taxes all that much…

Part of being a member of the miracle called America is filing tax returns for the previous year. It’s complicated and steeped in controversy, but it’s part of who we are.

I sometimes wonder if our founding fathers would be impressed with how intricate, massive and burdensome the whole process of underwriting the cost of government (taxes) has become. Would they be impressively awed or scratching their heads, these leaders of the American Revolution who dreamt of, wrote and ratified the Declaration of Independence? I mean, those fellers were pretty serious, starting a revolution that got plenty of folks killed.

The Declaration of Independence, they held those truths to be self-evident. An observation today suggests that our commitment and resolve has waned a bit. We don’t seem to agree on what truth is.

I’m not trying to fan a political flame. Really. I re-read the Declaration of Independence and it got me quietly thinking about the irony and complexity that we have grown unto, compared to the tyranny that our forefathers sought to escape. There is hope in their purposeful words and plan, a model that we could build upon.

Independence from tyranny under the utter dependence on God and each other – simply stated, that was the plan. These were the essential and self-evident truths held back in 1776.

Today, it seems, we hold truth to be relevant. Today we are committed to our ever-expanding independence. But the Declaration of Independence speaks directly to our dependence.

America, miraculous as she is, is still an experiment that succeeds or fails, rises or falls, at the blessed hand of God. We can act independent of him, if we choose. But we are not. We are utterly dependent.

We find freedom as we reflect on our dependence on God. He is our liberator, the one who sets free the captive. He offers that, not as an entitlement, but as a willing and grace-filled expression of His character. The liberty and freedom is revealed as we open ourselves to the awareness of Him.

True freedom is fostered in our dependence on Him.

Like you, I’m working on getting things ready for filing my ‘14 tax return. All the kids are grown and gone now. This is the first year, since 1984, we have no dependents to claim. In 30 years we went from 0 up to 4…then back down to 0. $3500 per child walked out the door into independent living.

Yet none of them, nor am I, truly independent. We are all utterly dependent on God. And if He had to file a tax return, He would claim me and He would claim you. He’d have every right to do that. And He does (just not on a 1040!)

He has a code and laws. They benefit all humanity better than ours or any other national constitution. They are truths that He, Himself, holds as self-evident. And, with grace, He expects the same from us.

My obscure wondering about God filing a 1040 is silly and rhetorical. His heart for you and I is not. He claims us in love, working tirelessly to convey that truth even while so many demand their independence.

He knows who He is and says of you and me You are my child. The liberty and freedom you seek is before you. I made freedom for you. Receive it from me. It is not found in your constituted declarations, it is found in mine. Seek my ways and find the life you crave.

You and I, we are not simply a dependent that benefits God as a write-off on His tax return or some balance sheet. We are people to be written on, by Him. He writes life and liberty on us in permanent ink. And He wonderfully invites us to audit the veracity of His claim.

Right on!

Declare your dependence!

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