In 1992 I got my first “real” job. Certainly, I had found employment before this time, but all of my previous opportunities were odd and end jobs like mowing a lawn for a local Veterinarian, who paid me with buckets of “fertilizer”… “Hey…that there bucket comes from a sheep…that is worth a pretty penny…don’t go ‘wasting’ it all in one place.” Additionally, my brother and I worked for a number of area farmers, usually “throwing bales” of hay…seemingly, on the hottest day of the summer.
Despite literally running from bale to bale and working as fast as possible…each farmer would encourage us with the same lecture at lunch time. “Well…that wasn’t too bad…but after you finish your dry bologna sandwich, we can go out in the really hot weather and hit the other field…you should know what you are doing now…so we can really work fast!”
“Boy thanks Mr. Farmer for the bologna sandwich and the pickled pig’s feet…by the end of summer, this .50 cents per hour will allow me to put new tires on my bicycle that I rode to your farm…and now get to ride home…in the sweltering heat…with my brother riding behind me on the banana seat!
This new job…was a real job! I was hired as Gas Jockey at a full service fueling station! Now I was paid minimum wage to run out to the gas pumps in 90 plus degree heat…and or…-30 degrees below zero to fill people's cars up with gas…check their oil and air filters and wash their windshields. The customers didn’t always appreciate their windshields being washed with a block of blue ice frozen to the end of the washing wand. My bigger concern was inadvertently leaving my frozen fingers stuck beneath a wiper.
As I filled out the paper work (W-4 form), on that first day I called my dad to help me understand the language of the tax code. He is an expert at translation…likely due to his expansive experiences while growing up in the 60’s. He knows and understands the meaning of some pretty keen phrases like, “far out” and “it’s a gas.”
“Hey Dad…it’s your favorite son!”
“Oh…Hi Rory…how are you doing?”
“Uh…No Dad…it’s Ryan…”
“Oh…I thought you said you were…”
“Never mind that…I have a question for you…about filling out my tax forms on my new job!”
“Oh, that’s a drag,” He said, “Uncle Sam is going to Bogart all of your lettuce.”
“Keep a cool head…when you hit retirement it will all be Marvy.”
“You really don’t have much choice…you gotta let them have their bread or the Fuzz will be knocking down your door.”
“Huh?”…”Dad…I just need to know how many ‘dependents’ to claim on my W-4.
“Oh…well that is easy…you claim zero…I already have you claimed as a dependent…so you can’t…”
“What?? This doesn’t seem fair…I have a new job now…I am independent!”
“Really? Are you planning on buying your own food, cooking your own meals, and getting your own apartment?”
“No…I am only 16. I want to be "16 year old independent"…you know where I get to do what I want…when I want…and you can’t tell me what to do…but, when I need something like gas in my vehicle, I want to depend on you!”
“Put in zero…or you will find your independent mattress in the front yard.”
I claimed zero.
Today is Independence Day…and I cannot help but find the irony in that as we celebrate our independence…we are still so dependent.
Let’s be honest…we (as a nation) are dependent upon things like foreign oil…free trade…and military security. These are not necessarily bad things to be dependent on. Additionally, we are in many ways dependent upon our government…local, state and federal. We are dependent on our cell phones and our internet and the power grid. Again, none of these are necessarily evil things.
However, I would challenge us to consider…that perhaps we should place ourselves in the dependence of an even greater authority. I believe that God actually desires for us to be dependent upon him…not as some craze ego trip…but because of the intimate relationship that dependence creates. When we are truly dependent upon someone…intimacy is created.
In Acts 13:44-14:18, we find that Paul and Barnabas continue on with their first missionary journey. Along their way they encounter great revival, strong persecution, acceptance, rejection…but most of all an incredible and healthy dependence on the Holy Spirit.