On Sunday, we discussed the parable of the talents in church. It's one of my favorite passages of scripture, both for the uplifting message about hard work and perseverance and for the convicting way it reminds me not to squander the gifts given me by God. For those of you keeping track at home, you can listen to the sermon online.
[caption id="attachment_2819" align="alignright" width="225" caption="Mount Hood above Mirror Lake"][/caption]
In this passage, Christ tells the story of a man who entrusted his property to his servants while he went away. Two of the servants put his wealth to work while he was gone and managed to double what he'd given them before he returned. The third servant, out of fear, did nothing with the talent he was given and merely returned it to his master upon his return.
Some people interpret this passage to deal with actual talents - God given skills and abilities that extend beyond what's expected of a normal person. A "talented" individual is someone abnormally given towards playing an instrument, towards writing, towards throwing a football. I enjoy this interpretation, but it's not the only one available.
On Sunday, we approached things from the financial perspective, taking a talent to literally represent a financial gift given for a period of time. The concept that all our possessions are gifts from God given to us through grace to enjoy for a short time isn't a new one for me. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love William Faulkner's Go Down Moses. A great book that, if nothing else, deals with deep notions of ownership and property.
Our pastor also mentioned something that struck me particularly hard. An angle I hadn't viewed this passage from yet, but which ties in to both of the above (paraphrasing):
How many of you have been in an airplane? Riding along at 30,000 feet you look down and see that God has called you to be a steward of all that.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to climb a 5,000-foot hill near Mt. Hood. It gave me a spectacular view of the mountain, the surrounding valley, and several mountains in the distance (St. Helens, Rainier, Jefferson, etc). I remember looking at the valley and thinking, "wow, He gave this to us to take care of. Have we really done a good job? Have I done a good job? With all of the work set before us, which part am I meant to focus on?"
It's rare that I consider myself a steward of creation. But when I do, my first instinct is to lean towards preservation of that over which I am supposed to guard. But when we consider the job of a steward to be both guarding that which we're given and growing it as well, it makes the job seem just that much more daunting.
I found myself realizing that when it comes to God's creation I have more in common with the "wicked" servant who buried his talent that those who used the talents they were given and doubled what they had. That realization has me dumbstruck trying to figure out how to change my situation.
So ... what specific "talent" has God entrusted me with? What can I do to both protect and grow that talent for him until he returns?