Does anyone ever waste their God-given talents on purpose? Does anyone ever say to him- or herself, “Look at this. I can do this or that very well, and I love doing it. God gave me these special powers to serve Him and give Him glory by helping others. So I decide here and now not to do that, but to become a bumbling, incompetent elevator repairman instead. Because I know I will suck at it.”
No. People do not generally engage in such perverse decision-making reflections.
Usually, when someone wastes his or her talents, it is because something else gets in the way. Like paranoia. Or pride. Or stubbornness. Or jealousy. Or laziness. Or substance abuse. Or vanity. Or video games.
“I condemn you out of your own mouth,” the Master said. “You knew I was a hard man.”
A hard man, yes. God relentlessly makes the sun rise and gives us chance after chance after chance to get over ourselves and do something worthwhile. If I can manage to be realistic with myself for even five minutes, I can almost always come up with something good in which to participate today. Then–as Woody Allen so wisely put it–if I show up, I have completed 90% of what I need to do in order to succeed.
Problem is, being reasonable with ourselves is a trick. Because I can so easily convince myself that: What I have to offer isn’t good enough. Or that so-and-so will certainly ruin everything. Or that the whole thing is really just too much to deal with.
It all would be too much to deal with—if we launched ourselves out into the world without trust in God. If we couldn’t be sure that the Lord has a perfect plan to bring the good work begun in me to completion. If we didn’t know that, first and foremost, we are His beloved children, and we please Him best by being ourselves and letting the haters gape.
You knew I was a hard man when you folded up your gold coin in a napkin. You were afraid. Of what? Were you afraid of something more terrible than the wrath of the one who gave you the gold coin in the first place? What could be more terrible?
Did the one who invested and made a ten-fold profit—did he think the Master was a hard man, an unfair man? Maybe he knew the truth, which the napkin-man also knew but was too timorous to meditate on.
Maybe the one who made a ten-fold profit knew that if his own ingenious schemes happened to fail, the scene would unfold like this:
“Master, listen. I think you know that I left it all on the court. [Just like the Georgetown Hoyas did last night!] I gave it my best shot. But your gold coin is gone. I had gained eight, but then I put them into this great plan I had, and, well…I lost them all.”
He knew that if he had had to say this, the Master would have said, “Son, I know what you did. I’m proud of what you tried to accomplish. Here’s ten coins. Go and take another crack at it.”
[Click HERE for a post about the august anniversary celebrated today.]