Sunday, January 16, 2011

The men with the talents and a starfish

Most people know the parable of the men and the talents. There were three men who were each given an amount of money when their master went away and it was their responsibility to use that money. 

Here is the beginning of the passage from the Message translation (Matthew 25) "It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money."

Now, I am quite familiar with the interpretation of this passage, but this morning while browsing through my emails, I was struck with a slightly different way of looking at this passage. I am not saying this is how you should interpret this passage...it just caused me to stop and think.

Very often I can get overwhelmed with the enormity of the needs around me. I see children starving in other countries, young teens throwing their lives away, people losing loved ones, animals being abused (it was an email asking for a donation to the local animal shelter that started all this), and our earth being destroyed. It all can seem like it is just too much to handle. Too much to help with. Then I remembered the story of the boy walking on the beach where there were thousands of starfish that has washed ashore. He walked along tossing them back into the water. When someone told him that there were too many, he couldn't possibly make a difference, the boy picks up another starfish and tosses it and replies something along the lines of "It made a difference for this one."

Now I can't explain how my crazy mind put these stories together with the parable of the talents, but it did. I was feeling like it is all too much and then came the thought, "Do what you can where you are and God will increase your ability to do more." I sometimes feel like the little bit I am able to do in reaching out is so insignificant - it can't possibly make a difference. But I am called to use whatever he has given me - not bury it because I'm afraid it won't work or be of any real use. That's not for me to decide. I'm just supposed to use whatever "talent" I have and trust the rest to God. The interesting thing is, not only did the talent (money) increase for the two men who used it, they were given even more when the Master returned to check on them.

I may feel like my "talent" has very little value...most people don't get really excited about someone who is able to talk a lot....but I'm to use what I have. God will take whatever it is and multiply it so that it can do more. And whereas I cannot possibly help every hungry child in the world - I can help one, I can't save every animal that has been abandoned - I can help one, I can't clean up the rivers and streams and oceans and hillsides but I can clean up right beneath my feet. It's not about doing everything, it's about doing whatever I can. The thought of the child I can't help must not keep me from helping the one I can. Who knows - maybe when I do that God will give the increase so that I can then help another one!

Yesterday on the radio, I heard an interesting thought. What if the resources we have been given haven't been given for us to use on ourselves, but to pass on to others. What if we are merely to be the conduit through which God passes out His blessings. The problem is, we hang on to them. We even rent storage buildings to we can "house" them, then we wonder why we aren't able to reach out more to others. Here's a scary thought: that's just what Satan did. He was created to act as a conduit that passed the praise on to the Father but he decided to keep some of it for himself. I think I may have to chew on that one for a while.

I'm not suggesting we all sell everything we have and give it away. I am suggesting that we take the talent that is in our hands and reach out to the "one" that God brings our way this day. I have to wonder what will happen when we all "pick up one starfish" and toss it back to safety.

Don't bury your talent because the need is so overwhelming and you fear it will not be enough. Give what you have and watch God mulitply it so that you can do more. I'd love to hear your stories. Please share them with us so that others can be encouraged to do what they can do with what they have.
Happy Starfish tossing ya'll!

1 comment:

Phoenix-Karenee said...

Thank you. I needed to remember this today, and I needed the story that made it bigger and brighter to my memory. Each talent, no matter how small, makes a difference ... but only when it is used. I can hang on to that. Being a conduit? Even more so ... Don't you love it when the clean flow of Christ's righteousness knocks the sludge we've packed into the pipes out of our systems?