I was having brunch with some of my friends last week. We spent time catching up, and then the conversation turned to what we were planning to do in the fall. As I sat and listened, I realized we all had very different dreams. One wants to be an opera singer and “wear the big dress.” One wants to help forgotten orphans in forgotten places around the world. One wants to open a coffee shop. One wants to teach and disciple and walk with women. One wants to write a bible study called “From Ice Queen to Princess.” (Guess who…)
As we talked about our dreams, we also talked about what we were afraid of. We’re afraid we won’t be able to figure out how to balance everything, our passions and our homes. We’re afraid we are too old to do what God is calling us to. We are afraid we might partner with the wrong people. We’re afraid of waiting so long we miss the boat or maybe afraid that the waiting part will never end. One of my friends keenly pointed out we were afraid of obscurity. We all have greatness in us and are terrified that we may not steward it well. We’re afraid we could run ahead of Jesus and leave him behind.
Later a story that Jesus told came to mind. A master gave three servants a portion of money to steward. The first two invested what they had and doubled it. I think this investment must have required some portion of faith or belief. Investing money is risky; there are no guarantees that you will make money or even that you won’t lose what you have. These two however were willing to take the risk, and it paid off. They gave back to the master double the amount they had been given. The master was pleased, not because of the amount they gave him, but because they had been full of faith.
I think we sounded like the third servant who was motivated by fear. He went and hid the money. This decision was very safe and involved no risk. He knew that at the end he would be able to give back to the master exactly what he was given, no more and no less. The master praised the first two for their faithfulness. However the third was condemned because his fear crowded out his faith. And there we sat around the table each with our talents and gifts trying to figure out what to do with them… and terrified.
Sometimes the thing we fear the most is being used. The tea set I was using for this little lunch was a lovely china set with delicate blue flowers on it. I found the set all packed in a box on the third floor of Andrew’s grandmother’s house. It had been a gift from some Scottish family members. It had been shipped to her all the way from Scotland, but spent years securely and safely packed in a box in the attic.
I’m sure the fear was that if this beautiful set were used, an irreplaceable piece could be broken. The fear that maybe the person who sent it would be offended if something got lost or damaged. I adopted the set because I felt that after all those years in a box, it was too beautiful not to be used. Every time I use it there is the risk that something could get broken. But to me the greater tragedy is a beautiful tea luncheon set that never holds tea or a delicate tea sandwich. A tea set that never gets to see its purpose fulfilled. Sure the box could keep it safe, but the box could never give the tea set the beauty it deserved.
So I use my tea set, and I use my gifts and talents and passions. I don’t always do it perfectly, and I often mess things up. But hopefully each step we take on this journey is a step of faith, not a step of fear. May our fears prompt us to make a plan and steward our time and resources wisely. May our faith keep us close to the Father and dependent on Him. May we leave the result of our investment to the One who desires good things for us. May we heed the oft-repeated words of Scripture, “Do not be afraid for I am with you.”
Look it Up: Luke 19:11-26; Joshua 1:9