But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:16
The two times in my life that I have clearly heard God tell me to do something, my immediate response was, “No.” The first was a call to missions when I was 22. The second was a call to adopt two boys into our family. In spite of my initial disobedience—in spite of my self, I spent four months as a missionary in the Middle East when I was 24, and we brought Orlando and Dielo home from Haiti in 2013.
Fear is a powerful weapon of the enemy. The Lord knew how easily we would be persuaded and overcome by it—how many times does His Word tell us not to fear? A lot. And the reason He gave us not to fear is that He is with us and won’t leave us. I forget sometimes the magnitude of what that means. The God of the Universe, the One who breathes stars, who created everything out of nothing—that God promises to be with me and because of that, I have no reason to fear. I have no reason to fear. But I still do. And His great patience and mercy and grace allow me to be His anyway.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus is giving the parable of the talents. I have been meditating on this parable for months now, and what it tells me about what I need to do even when the world is scary. This seems right to talk about in light of what is going on in our world. In the parable of the talents (or bags of gold), Jesus tells of a master who was going on a journey and called his servants to him. “To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his ability.”(v15) The servant who had been given five talents traded with them and earned five more, and the servant who had been given two earned two more. But the servant who was given only one talent was afraid to lose it, so he buried it in the ground to keep it safe until the master returned. When the master returned, he was angry and took away that one talent, calling the servant who buried it in the ground “worthless.”
The master gave to each according to his ability. I’m not sure which servant I am in that respect – I guess it’s all about perspective. To say I’ve been given the least sounds ungrateful or falsely modest. I could play it safe and say that I’m the servant who has been given two—not the most, not the least…that’s safe, right? I wouldn’t say I’ve been given the most, but I think people who live in other parts of the city/country/world would disagree. The reality is that it doesn’t matter…He has given to me according to my ability. This means I am capable of doing something good, something of value to Him, with whatever He entrusted to me. He entrusts me with more money than I need to survive. Why? Because I deserve it? Because I work hard? Because I follow Him? No. The Bible is clear that we all deserve death—everything we have is a gift of His grace. I do try to work hard, but if my work isn’t in love and for His purposes, it is worthless. (And don’t get me started on the prosperity gospel… No.) He entrusts me with this because He wants me to do something of value to His kingdom with it. That’s it. And it is more than just money—it is time, skills, gifts, my family, my job, my relationships, my voice… the only reason I have anything that I have is to serve His purposes.
Lord Jesus, please, please don’t let us be the servant who let his fear determine his actions. Don’t let us bury what you’ve entrusted to us just so we can hang onto it and keep it safe. Please help us remember that following you was never about being safe, never about being comfortable. Don’t let our desire for safety and comfort of people we love make us poor stewards of your gifts so that we are deemed worthless to your kingdom. Father, remind us that we have nothing to fear because you are with us. We believe Lord, but help our unbelief. Remind us that this world is not our home and that the things the world values are truly worthless in comparison to the glory of your kingdom. And as the world around us continues to get scarier, please strengthen us to be faithful and obedient with what you have given us so that others may find the same mercy and grace that you have given to us.
Monica Wendel has been a member of SCC since her family moved to Louisville in the summer of 2014. She is a Jesus follower, wife, mom of four amazing kids, social justice activist, and UofL professor who loves to cook for people and make her kids laugh (but not with the cooking if possible)