What if your life is required of you? Are you ready? Which areas of your life might be exposed as fraudulent or unkempt if suddenly someone else had to take responsibility for it? Your finances? Your relationships? Your personal health habits and choices?
Does this idea produce anxiety in you? Is it this anxiety that keeps you from acting on the knowledge you possess to do something about the problem?
Tools in our toolbox to battle anxiety:
Grounding: use your 5 senses to experience something other than your overwhelming emotion. Touch something with texture. Taste something (healthy). Smell something. Listen to something. Watch something in nature. Get back in touch with reality. Yes, your emotions of fear or sadness are real. But they are not the sum total. Gain perspective by grounding your senses in things that are also very real. (body)
Gratitude: keep a gratitude journal. When anxiety threatens to steal your peace and your sense of identity or accomplishment or power, pull out that journal. It can be as simple as a “notes app” list that you keep on your phone. Journal anything at all that gives your heart peace. When anxious, read back over the list. Allow the memory of that sense of gratitude to abide with you for a moment. Then add a few more to the list. These can very simple things. Or they can be very profound. But something significant happens in our brain related to chemical release when we choose to be mindful about gratitude rather than anxiety or bitterness. (mind)
Grace: remember that grace is sufficient and grace is a gift. Grace says it’s ok that I’ve gotten anxious. Grace says it’s ok that I’ve become fraudulent or unkempt. Grace says the story is not over. Grace says we can start again. Graces says you are loved, you are forgiven, and you are not alone.
The story of the talents. The 5 talent person is one who when called on the carpet discovered he had not been fraudulent or unkempt with any of his blessings. And they grew. And the master gave more. When it is discovered that we have been faithful in a season, it is likely that next season we will find ourselves overwhelmed with more than last season. And it may seem just that: overwhelming. But God is growing us up, building up our faith.
The 2 talent person is the one who perhaps was faithful with part, but fraudulent or unkempt with another. Maybe this person has strong relationships skills, but has been less than honest with money or material possessions. And their worst fear is that these people will discover what a mess exists under the rug and under the table and under the hood. Or maybe this person has impeccable spreadsheets, but has made a mess of human relationships to get there. No one quite did it right, everyone not on board with the plan was expendable, people were a tool to be set aside when no longer useful. And maybe when life is reviewed and reflected upon, what is learned is that very well kept material possessions provide no keeping in return. That is, a lifetime built upon caring for materials things is not reciprocated. So in the next season of life, there may be a little lacking. There will surely be some blessing, because there has been some faithfulness! But there will also be some grief because there has been some loss.
The 1 talent person is the only one who seems to not understand that (1) the master is returning and (2) what the master wants when he returns. Which leaves the master incredulous: you knew…you knew. We are without excuse. We know how the story ends. None of us escapes a final breath. But this is the only servant who doesn’t experience joy with his master’s return. And this is unfortunately our fate if we choose to continue to be unfaithful with the blessings we have been given. We have the choice to walk away and do nothing about our broken relationships. Not my fault. Phone works both ways. We have the choice to keep denying and hiding our rubble under the rug in our unfaithful approach to material gain. Everyone does it. Nobody is perfect. And when we face the Master and say, “well, I buried my head in the sand again because…I didn’t want to deal with it. I thought it was too harsh. It made me feel bad, anxious. So I just got a drink and turned on the TV, decided not to worry about it.” It will not go well.
Notice that the reward was different but the result was the same for both the 5 talent and 2 talent servant. “Well done. Come and receive.” They weren’t perfect. They didn’t even achieve the same goals or results. One amassed less than half the other. But it wasn’t about the work. The work reflected the heart. It was always about the heart. Same for the “wicked servant.” His heart reflected apathy, fear, greed, and resentment. He believed he would be rejected, and he was. He did not have faith.