Dear son, friend, or fellow entrusted one,
It is amazing to me how my mind works and how my heart is spoken to in the most unsuspecting of places. How sad that it has to be the most unsuspecting place, because those are the rare times that I am quiet enough to listen. A parable Jesus taught about the talents, out of Matthew 25:14-30, randomly but I am sure intentionally, elbowed its’ way to the front of my mind the other day. I have always thought of the talents as money that I have been trusted with, or gifts that have come through nurture and nature, but most often there was an overlying fear of what I did with them for fear of being thrown into the dark where gnashing teeth reside. But today it resonated quite differently.
I believe that everyday I am trusted with moments, with time that I get to fill, with relationships I pour myself into or am indifferent towards, with choices, with sacrifices, with habits, with cycles, with interactions, with stretching my heart and will exercises, with investing opportunities that will pay off visibly or may have to settle with accepting the peace that comes with obedience. I am feeling convicted about how poor of a steward I am with the little choices and talents. I was reminded today that I need to invest myself, I need to be willing to look the fool, to do the unordinary, and to throw off the fear of pain, discomfort, and of irrationality. A story that chose me comes to mind. A story that only those closest to me know. So, Son, I tell you this in order to encourage you to risk it all when the deepest part of your heart is battling with whether or not you should step out of the boat and walk on the choppy water. But don’t do it for fear of gnashing teeth. Do it for freedom, for life. That is what the Master yearns you choose.
Around Thanksgiving time, I dropped you off with your mother. A time of family and celebration, but for me, and I am sure many of the people around us, it was a time of struggle and grief. I was driving down a side road downtown on a brisk 15 degree afternoon. My mind wandered and tears still clung to corners of my eyes. Then, I saw him, Greg. A man stumbling into the bushes of the home he was passing. I looked back as I passed and saw a man in a sheet whose eyes were acraze, his matted hair gray and wild did the best it could to fear me away. To pass on the other side of the street so to say. And in this unsuspecting moment, this man was my Samaritan, my opportunity, my talent entrusted. The voice was clear…..”Give him your coat.” I wish I could always say that I live with this abandonment of myself, but I can’t, but on that day I did. I drove around the block and as I got out of my warm truck, my coat in hand, I walked up and said, “Sir, please let me help you.” We were both standing in the middle of the road, he was confused and disoriented and I placed my coat on him. I took off my winter hat and covered this man who had a mere pair of torn jeans tied with a shoestring and had a sheet to cover the rest. His feet had socks on them, but his shoes were gone. Then he began, “I am not always like this….” and he started to defend his situation. I quickly stopped him and said, “Sir, it does not matter how you got here. I am just so thankful that I am here with you. That I can help you.”
As he got into the truck, he began to sob as he lay on all the heat vents, the realization of being snatched from death’s jaws sunk in. I placed my hand on his shoulder and said, “Sir, you are safe. Let me take you home.” He gathered himself and asked if I went to church. “I used to be a Mennonite and believed in peace, love and happiness.” I said I did too. “I know that Jesus went through a lot, but I don’t think he had to deal with the cold.”, he finished, and we laughed. While getting out, I asked Greg if I could pray for him (another moment entrusted), and again I placed my hand on his shoulder and he squeezed my leg. I prayed that he be granted wisdom, and protection and that he would be blessed. I left him with this….”Greg, every time you put on my coat and hat, know that you are loved. I understand that life is often beyond cruel, but you are loved and God loves you. And I am so thankful that I made a friend today.” With that, he walked inside his government housing and I do not know if our paths shall ever cross again. But in that moment, two men were alive.
The next week was another exercise for me as I went without a winter coat so that I may be able to relate just a little bit more to the world of lacking. As I reflect on that story Greg was in, not his complete story, I make sure that I continue to reflect on my days, my choices. Not for fear, but for life. Not for covering all my obligations, but for fulfilling my life’s purpose. Not for being a nice and good man, but to become a man alive who intends to change the world. And just like that day in late November, the process of stewardship, radically changed mine.