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I’m Really Me – Okay?

By January 6, 2022August 30th, 2022Devotional

It’s been a frustrating day. This time of year is always is filled with many government interactions. There are personal tax returns, corporate returns, state filings, unemployment reports and a host of other things that have to be done in the next several months.

It’s an annual ritual that I have come to dislike on several levels. Granted, I feel great when everything is done and filed, but I have to say that things are changing so fast that what happened last year doesn’t really mean that it is going to go the same way this year.

And that brings me to the heart of the issue tonight. Almost twenty years ago, while I was in seminary, I concentrated on how to help people and their families when they were out of work or trying to make a career change. In response to the problems we identified, and as part of my doctoral work, we started a 501c(3) ministry that focused on providing help to these families.

Since that time, we have added financial counseling as well and things are pretty predictable year to year. My cousin, Dave, and I work together in this God-centered ministry that is now nineteen years old. Consequently, each year there is a simple tax return that we file in the first part of the year.

In fact, it’s so simple that I usually do it myself. I go to the IRS website, login and click a few buttons to affirm that we are stating the truth and… voila… I get a confirmation in a day or two that our return has been accepted. Really pretty easy, until this year.

When I went to login yesterday, I got a message that my credentials needed to be updated and that I could no longer use my old ID. I was redirected to another site and told that I needed to create a new login through an organization called ID.me.

After entering an email and password, a new account was created for me. However, it didn’t end there. Next, I was asked for a cell number for a two-factor authentication so they could text me whenever I wanted to get on the site. I complied and provided my cell number. Done, right?

Not so fast… then I had to get a “recovery code” – in other words, if I want to conduct ministry business online and don’t have my phone, they create a long, complex code to enter. Great idea – but complicated to get it all done. Now done, right? Well, not quite…

Each time I clicked the “continue” button, I thought I would be finished but the next page requested ever more information to prove who I am. Only this time, they wanted my driver’s license and social security number; or a picture of my passport, my ID number and SS#. Really?

With all the fraud going on in today’s world, it has become very difficult to actually post a picture of my passport or driver’s license as well as my social security number online! Recently, we went through a fraud investigation with a charge that we didn’t make. It ended up getting settled, but not without quite a bit of inconvenience and more than several calls to credit agencies and fraud centers. It was problematic enough that I never want to go through all that again – and we had special people working on our behalf at one of the credit bureaus we subscribe to.

Anyway, I just couldn’t bring myself to fill out the rest of the requisite information to get my ID.me account started…  In fact, I have actually thought about paying a third party to file on my behalf so that I don’t have to go through all this investigation. Of course, I know I am me… and that’s getting more difficult to prove every year.

I long for the days when a handshake signified a deal, when everyone knew everyone else in the neighborhood and it was a kinder, gentler society. But it occurs to me that God knows my name and I don’t have to jump through any hoops to prove who I am with Him. He knows me – in fact, He created me and knows more about me than I do. I don’t need to provide fingerprints – God already has them – and he gave them to me.

There are more than 100 verses in the Bible that have to do with God knowing us. Tonight’s verse comes from the prophet Isaiah who gives us the words of God, in Isaiah 43:1, “But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

My encouragement this evening is that we live in a tough time but we are personally known by God and that’s the most important thing that we should remember. My prayer is that whenever you need to talk, you’ll feel comfortable knowing that God is right there. No cell phone, no two-factor identification and no passport needed. Even though heaven isn’t in the next zip code, every believer has a universal passport that allows each of us to enter heaven when the time comes. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…