“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. . . . I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.” Matthew 14-18,25
I have a little digging to do.
I can’t really blame it on the cancer, though I do. But there are a lot of stewardship issues I have let slip over the past year. I’ve buried my “talents,” just like the fearful servant in Jesus’ parable. Finding the discipline to begin caring for the resources God has given me is tough. I’m getting there, but I still have a little digging to do.
I’ve always thought it was ironic of God to inspire the use of a currency called “talents” in this parable about stewardship. Our resources really are about much more than money. In my case, the gift of writing, the love of painting, the creativity to minister to others in need, the discipline to have a structured, productive life are all resources that I buried at some point. And the courage to dig them up and actually invest them has been slow in coming.
Much of it has to do with fear for me, too. As I re-enter life, I am a little fearful of getting back to “normal.” When life is normal, it’s easier to be blind-sided by things like cancer. As long as everything is disrupted anyway, difficulties don’t feel like such a scary surprise.
I also continue to find the future a little fearful — and investing my talents, just like any investment, requires a glimpse into the future. And a little patience.
But avoiding the hard work of digging up my talents not only leaves my treasure buried, it also keeps my head buried in the sand. I have to face reality that life really is full of surprises, and the future really is uncertain. But God knew those things when he gave me the gifts, and yet He still gave them to me expecting me to use them.
In the novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, authors Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows describe a character who also had a digging problem, a Miss Daphne Post. “When she heard the Germans were coming, she buried her mothers’ silver teapot under an elm tree and now can’t remember which tree. She is digging holes all over the island, vowing she won’t stop till she finds it. ‘Such determination,’ said Will. ‘Quite unlike her.'”
That’s the problem with leaving our talents buried too long; we forget where we hid them. And when that happens, not only have our gifts failed to multiply with use, we don’t even have the talent anymore. We’ve become useless and empty-handed before the Lord.
So, it’s time to get the shovel out and start digging. And I am trying to find a new rhythm to life that will allow me to use my talents again. I’m setting my alarm a little earlier for the mornings, and I actually got up and wrote a little two days this week. It was only a few minutes at a time, but it’s a start. Maybe a little like Daphne Post — I haven’t found the silver teapot yet, but at least I’m digging.
Near the end of the Potato Peel Pie book, another character has observed Daphne Post digging again and wishes there was some way to help her. “Saw Daphne Post digging a big hole under Mr. Ferre’s elm tree. She always does it by the dark of the moon. I think we should all go together and buy her a silver teapot so she can quit and stay home nights.”
Those of us digging around at night need people like this in our lives, people who care about us and wish the process weren’t so difficult. But we don’t need new teapots, we need people who will pick up the shovel and help us dig. That’s what so many of you have done for me over the past few weeks by encouraging me to write more and prompting me to pick up the paint brush again. I don’t need new talents to use for Jesus; I just need to find my way to using the ones He’s already given me.
But I’ve got more digging to do.