Parables, classics to parents with Christian home-grown children, read by candlelight while snuggled under blankets during a power-outage or as bed-time stories to scare away the monsters in the closet. The Parable of the Talents, specifically, has had my heart for years yearning to know and to understand and to grasp. Even now, I don’t think I will ever fully understand, but I do understand more than before and what I understand I ache to share. It was in the middle of a summer college fellowship, during a rainy and muggy night, that I was hit with a question,
Can you fathom, being Adam and Eve and hiding from the Lord when He called your name?
I looked around the circle and saw heads shaking, unfathomable. Yet, as I peered into my own heart I knew it was not unfathomable. I knew that there was a time when if I had heard the Lord walking in the garden and calling out to me that I would have run and hid. I would have felt naked and ashamed. I would have fought to hurriedly clothe myself with whatever I could find. My natural instinct would have been cover because I wanted to sit in my pain and become the lies I believed about myself. I believed that I was worthless and that there was no way that I could look into the eyes of the One who was so holy, so mighty, so righteous and live. Worse even still was actually admitting this to those sitting on that red, oriental rug around me. Vulnerability with Jesus was terrifying, but vulnerability with His children, shook me to the very core of who I thought I was. This, after a season of my life where the Lord allowed me to be stripped of every relationship and every security I owned. Emerging from that season left me weak and shaky. I was unsteady on my feet, as though I had spent forty days in the desert, as though I had fled, heart in throat through the middle of the sea from armies fast approaching, as though my crutch had been ripped away and I was learning to walk for the very first time without it. I finally had to make my faith my own. Rebirth. The sense that my entire life had been drowned and I had come up from the water a wailing, helpless child. Suddenly, the confidence I had once known was gone. Once very bold, I found myself very scared. I found myself questioning every “skill” I thought I once had. I completely abandoned my writing because I had sunk so deeply into comparison that my own writing repulsed me. I fell short without fail, every single time. I set the highest standards, ones that left me cripplingly dissatisfied with any accomplishment.
But the man with one talent replied to the master,
“I was AFRAID, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.”
Afraid. He was afraid to use his talent. I think he was afraid to use his talent because he knew it would force him to be vulnerable. He would have to be vulnerable in showing the world that he only received one talent, after his own fellow servants had received five and two talents “according to their abilities.” He would have to be vulnerable in confessing that his ability was the least. He would have to be brave and he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. I couldn’t either, but the beautiful thing is that Jesus covers the unlovable things in me. The things that I am ashamed of, the talents that I think are worthless. Even and especially in the light of what others have, He covers me in the blood of the Lamb who is greater and stronger and mightier. I can be brave enough to be vulnerable because that’s what I have been called to be. I do not face condemnation from the Father because of my ability. I face pure love, the purest the world has ever known, the Author and Creator of love itself. I have been called to use my talent, though it may be one and not five. In the end, the only thing that matters is going to be the fact that I used my talent. And in the end, the only thing that is going to matter is that I stepped out in faith and I did not hide it. In bringing my one talent to the light, I can only imagine the other one-talent servant’s hearts as they too grow bold and allow their walls to come down and their one talent out into the world. Imagine a body of believers, each bringing their talent into the light. Imagine the beautiful and freeing community that would emerge. Shame over one talent disappears in the light of vulnerability. God the precious Father does not change His reaction from the five-talent servant to the two-talent servant. He will call the one talent servant who chooses to uncover that one talent by name and look deeply into her eyes with joy and pride.
He will call the one-talent servant by her true name,
He tells the one-talent servant that she belongs. He inspires the one-talent servant to reach out with love to those around her with one talent and those with five alike because comparison stemming from insecurity has no place in His scarred hands.