It makes your chest hurt. Your stomach flop. And your hands sweat.
Fear. The ugliest four-letter word you’ll ever hear.
Fear gives you two options: fight or flight.
And I’ve done my share of both. Just usually not the right one at the right time. I’ve fought when I should have walked away. And I’ve given up when I should have kept going.
Today we’re talking about the flight. Because it’s not exactly feasible to keep running away when you’re trying to make progress in life. Progress is scary. But moving forward through the fear is often the only way to gain ground.
You feel a call to go a different path. To try a new thing. To step out in faith. To take a chance.
It’ll be risky. And you’re afraid.
You’re afraid you’ll fail, afraid others will judge you, afraid you’ll waste your time. You’re even afraid you’ll succeed. Especially when you’ve spent years self-sabotaging in order to hide out.
Yet the truth is, we’ve heard those verses so many times we often forget to really listen to them.
But there’s another well-known story in the Bible that few of us remember when we’re faced with the fear of taking the next steps.
You’ll know it by The Parable of the Talents.
The Message tells the story like this:
It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities… Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second one did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.
After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: “Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.”
The same was repeated with the next servant. But when the third servant was called we see a different scene.
The third servant returned the thousand dollars to his master. He explained that he was afraid to disappoint the master and so instead of risking the money, he hide the money to keep it safe.
The master’s response is a little shocking:
The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that!… Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’
That third servant… I get him. I wouldn’t be surprised to find him somewhere in my lineage. How many times have I hidden away what God has given me for fear that if I used it I might lose it? How many times have you?
As cliché as it may sound these days you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And that includes your talents. And talents don’t necessarily mean strengths- sometimes it simply means passion.
Romans 12:4 reminds us that each part of our body does not have the same function. And so it is with the body of Christ. When one part doesn’t function as it should the whole body suffers.
You were created to offer something to this world. And when you let your fears cause you to hide away the rest of us are missing out on something spectacular.
Love yourself enough to go out on the limb. To be obedient to God’s calling. And to trust Him with the outcome. Maybe that limb is just a closer step to another tree. Or maybe that limb is where you will be successful and in that success God will be glorified. Because even the servants in Matthew knew it was all for the master.
So what are your talents? What is that thing you are hiding away from? Is there something you can do today, this week to move yourself closer to your calling?
There are plenty of writers out there with more talent and a far more reaching voice than me. But we are each given according to our abilities. When we show we can be faithful with the small. That we can steward well what the Lord has given. We will then see our territory increased.
So use those talents that God has graciously bestowed upon you. He created them uniquely for you. Don’t continue to live in utter darkness with others taking what is rightfully yours.
Climb the tree. Go out on the limb. And watch God do things you never imagined.