What Have You Got to Lose?

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.  So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.  But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.

Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,  so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’  But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
– Matthew 25:14-30 ESV

I’ve held on to a singer’s comment for three years whenever I think about gifts and talents (sadly,the radio broadcast I heard it from was from abroad and I had no idea which bluegrass singer she was).

Anyway, I had been listening to the radio one day three years ago, and though I can’t remember what exactly was the topic for discussion, the radio jock quoted a singer’s interview answer on why she sings,

“I sing because I have to; because I am afraid that if I don’t…it will be taken away.”

…and I was left thunderstruck. The jock meant it as a point of encouragement, and I took it up right away. After which, I sought out English writing courses and enrolled in them, for once not doing it for kicks anymore.

What are we afraid of being taken away?

I say a lot on Facebook about possessions being not a source of lasting joy; and I meant it. Nothing we ever have at present shall be directly responsible for setting us in life without fear or worry.

But gifts are another story, especially when they’re gifts from God.

They’re given for a reason.

I wasn’t ever a very good gift giver; in fact, I would think about Christmas gifts waay beyond the sale-obsessed culture we have here by actually planning to get which stuff for my family as early as half into the year. And then I’d proceed to ruin that plan by going shopping – yep, a week to three days BEFORE Christmas. I’d start out thinking of getting things that they could use daily, or for work; but halfway I’d give up and get food. (And the nightmares of actually having to realize that you got practically the same two things for consecutive Christmases/birthdays. Some people really have better talent in this.)

Why am I saying this? Because I’m thankful that God gives talent filled with thought of who we are. Usually, I’d want for people to receive things from me that are personal and useful, because that’s how I know them, especially my family. How much more, God, who knit every fiber of your being?

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
– Psalms 139:15 ESV

If every part of me, my heart, my thoughts and words were not hidden from God, then God, who is highly personal with His sons and daughters, would not miss something in the gift-giving.

He doesn’t waste words.

I used to write so much more, for the public eye, than I used to. In fact, the six-month difference was even more frequent now — because there was a time I couldn’t trust my writing. So I put myself on a bind and quit writing, for a long, long while.

And it was desolate, indeed.

So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

During the years that I quit, I realized that my reasons for writing weren’t even clear, and my reasons to quit were even more obscure. I was failing to earn interest for my talent, and it only felt self-serving of me.

When I started to post a story I wrote on a writer’s site, I was surprised at the sudden following I had. The plot was mediocre and characters were not full-formed, but what surprised me was that people started commenting how they were touched and affected from how it was written in a way that struck a chord with them. I wasn’t necessarily pushing morals or some deep, unknown truth into the words I wove, but somehow people listened, and were grateful. And I felt grateful as well to receive their audience.

I didn’t expect anyone to, but they did. And from that time on I realized that God was probably not kidding when I received this gift, and intended for me to use it well. What I hadn’t really realized before was that I had an opportunity to share His grace to literally the whole world, and I almost buried it under the ground like the third servant. And all because I was deluded by pride that it was safer that way.

I wouldn’t know the joy of writing for my own pleasure, but now I get a glimpse of a proud fatherly smile as I write for His pleasure. There’s still so much to learn, and I keep saying that it’s tough to be a writer in this country (or anywhere). But as the faithful servants grew their talents, not for themselves but for their Master, they cheerfully received a commendation in return.

And there lies that lasting joy.

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