I was afraid. That’s it, the bottom line reason that one servant in the parable of the talents got thrown into the outer darkness. I was afraid.
I’ve heard this parable dissected a million and one ways. I participated in those reindeer-games myself, years ago. But not anymore. This story is not about faithful service and doubling your investment or laziness or even about your talents/abilities/gifts/whatever…lord, I get nauseous just thinking about all the cheerleading routines built on those steps. No, this is a story about those three little words that make heaven itself weep and gnash – I was afraid.
I believe that’s why Jesus mounted the platform, disrobed himself of glory and dove down, down, down into this cockeyed sea called life…he doesn’t want us to be afraid. Yes, he came to seek and save and set the captives free and heal the sick, yes, yes, yes, all those things, but if you reach in and grab the heart of those truths and rip it out and hold it bloody-high, it beats with one phrase – don’t be afraid.
I realize that can turn into its own pep rally, complete with cocks-on-the-walk sporting know God, no fear t-shirts and sticker bumpers. I realize that.
Right now there are a handful of things I’d like to do, try, even be. As I’ve pondered these lately, the only reason I can come up with for not doing, trying, or being is I’m afraid. Sure, maybe the money’s not there or the timing’s not right or there’s not consensus…I'm betting the asphalt in hell has been mixed with such intentions.
We’re afraid of earthquakes and aftershocks. We’re afraid of where the economy’s going. We’re afraid of losing our jobs. We’re afraid of what the culture is doing to the kids. We’re afraid of terror in the skies. We’re afraid of the current administration or the residue of the last. We’re afraid of ridicule, failure, and being black-balled from the orthodox. We’re afraid we can’t put it down or can’t get it up. In the midst of these perfect storms with waves that threaten to overtake, Jesus surfaces, shakes his divine mane, and treads, treads the very hydrogen and oxygen molecules he wooed together and bobs up, down, up, down, while whispering in a voice pep rallies know little of – don’t be afraid.
Me: But Lord, I’m scared (tear falls, teeth grind).
Jesus: (wild-eyed) John, I didn’t say don’t be scared. I said don’t be afraid.