Where we wrestle with the sublime, mysterious, powerful and often frustrating paradox of God's necessary grace.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Jesus Shovel

Hi there.

Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm trying to finish my novel and so have devoted most of my casual writing time to that. Rahter than than keep you hanging around waiting for my posts, I'm going to take a vacation from blogging here for the month of August. I figure if I have an official vacation, I won't feel guilty about not updating this blog.

Okay, onto today's topic. Please bear with me on this one.

The Parable of the Talents

Matt 25:14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.

Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.

After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.

So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Okay, Bible versifying over, you can breathe now.

I never understood this parable. To me, the master came across as a cruel jerk, punishing the third servant unfairly. Then I was reading a Jim Butcher novel from his "Dresden Files" series, and in it a priest quotes this parable and then explains his understanding of it. I realized I had been looking at the parable from the wrong direction.

The talents can also represent us--our selves, our souls and spirits. What makes you, you and me, me. The first two servants invested themselves in the outside world and profited thereby. The third servant played it safe and hid himself away from the warmth and light of life. He took no risks. He entombed himself.

How many of us are scratching at the inside of that jar? I'm guilty of hiding away from much of life. "Do you know why?" he asked rhetorically.

I was absolutely convinced, adhering limpet-like to the rock-solid, unquestioning conviction that life could be cut to order. It could be neatly bagged and tagged, dealt with quickly and easily with the right amount of self-discipline, smarts, good character and breeding. O, and money. You just had to want to and needed a few tools.

Aside from the fact I was an idiot, I was wrong.

Allow me to quote a line from the wonderful movie Parenthood, as spoken by Grandma: "Life is messy."

Let me repeat that: Life is messy.



Advertising has sold us a load of shit, TV in particular. It's sold us the idea life is resolved in 22 minutes and 4 commercial breaks, or in 97 minutes with optional car chases, aliens and lovely-yet-ditzy heroines who always get the right guy at the end. My life has never once worked that way and Sandra Bullock has yet to fall into my arms. I suspect your life suffers a similar lack of congruence to the Hollywood model.

I didn't want to admit life was messy so I hid myself away in a Mason jar and buried it deep and dark. No light = no exposure = no risk.

But life is messy. Always was, is, always will be.
The only thing pure, clean and un-messy? Death. Except...I'm not ready to go there yet.

So now with the help of the sagacious Dr. Julie and love of my wife and good friends, I'm digging me up, gonna unscrew the lid and let me out for walkies in the air and light.

Join me?


E said...

Wow.... I never thought that the story of the talents would relate to that "isolating" thing I have perfected but I see it clearly now. Thanks Ken... you are an illuminator. And yea, look for me on the outside. I hope to see you there too.

KenWritez said...

Thanks! :)