I am more than 6 hours into my flight back home and I can’t sleep. I keep thinking about my dreams for the future. I am also stressing out on pending items I left back home and frustrated that I can’t do anything about them on the plane. I am a planner, that’s one of the things I do best. I like to plan ways to quickly and effectively reach my dreams. I have all these if so, then…” diagrams in my head.
The problem with dreaming so much about the future is that I forget to live in the now. Not that I neglect the present, but I get frustrated having to do all the things that need to be accomplished now.
In this trip, I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Israel. This country is remarkably blessed; such a small piece of desert land with neighbors wanting to obliterate them, and yet the environment is safe and the economy booming. You don’t have to be a jew, muslim, or christian to see that so much of the world’s history and current events is inspired and affected by this tiny nation.
…Which inspires me to dream some more. Our country, the Philippines, is several times the size of Israel and we have much less conflict to deal with. The potential to be a great nation is there with our wealth of human and natural resources. I definitely want to one day be a part of making that happen.
I know, however, that when I get home I won’t be solving our economic and political problems. When the plane lands, all the items I left on my desk will greet me, and I will be too busy catching up on all the things I’ve missed. I wish God would hand my dreams to me in a silver platter, all that I want to become and all that I want to accomplish. In my mind, I tell God that if He hands me everything I want, I will use those blessings “faithfully”. I dislike the fact that I have to deal with the now because all the possible awesome futures are so clear to me.
It has become increasingly clear to me though that faithfulness has more to do with the now than it has to do with the future. To be more specific, faithfulness has more to do with the little we’re currently responsible now than the lot we dream for in the future. It’s less likely that I will have the opportunity to do well with my big dreams if I don’t start doing well now.
One text in the bible that I continue to look to for direction is the Parable of the Talents. The story begins with a Master who entrusts three of His servants with His possessions. To one He gives five talents, to another He gives two talents and to the last He gives one Talent. Talents is a measure of monetary value. To each one, the Master gave according to their current ability. After giving the three servants His possessions, the Master leaves and expects the servants to multiply His talents while He is away. The first two servants with five and three talents immediately go out and double what they had by trading with them. The last servant with one talent dug a hole and hid his Master’s money.
When the Master returned, He settled accounts with His three servants. The first two showed Him how they had doubled the talents He had entrusted them. To each of them, the Master responds:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you much. Enter into the joy of your Master.”
The third servant who hid his Master’s money explained his actions and told him that he believed the Master was a “hard man” (difficult or impossible), earning money even when He didn’t work for it. He basically thought his Master was unfair. The Master took the talents He entrusted the third servant and gave it to the first servant. He then had the third servant thrown into “the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
A number of points in this parable stand out when we talk about faithfulness. The first:
What the workers had to work with and what they created didn’t belong to them. They belonged to the Master who gave them the talents and who later on made an account for the capital and the profit made.
This is something I seriously struggle with. I regard everything I have to be mine including anything that I will receive and create in the future. For the first two servants in the parable, however, they knew that what they had belonged to the Master and worked diligently because they understood that their responsibility wasn’t to themselves but to him. The Master in this story obviously represents God. The question I have to ask myself is: Am I working as if I will be submitting my results to God? If this understanding were consistently in my mind I believe I would be working a lot more faithfully.
The second point is how the Master responded to the good work that the first two did:
“Well done, my good and faithful servant, you were faithful with a little, here is more.”
This gives us a perspective into the way God operates. We need to prove ourselves faithful with a little before He gives us more responsibility. Being in business, I see how this makes sense. Why would I let an employee who can’t even do simple things correctly handle more important things? I believe, however, that this point goes deeper than proving to have the developed skill to handle more. It has more to do with building character traits such as humility, patience, and love so that when we are given more we will not be corrupted. Success and power can definitely do that, especially when we are naturally inclined to put our needs at the forefront of our decisons.
The third point has to do with why the third servant failed.
The last servant reasons to his master,
“I knew You to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown… so I hid what you have given me”.
The third servant felt negatively toward the way the Master operates. He questioned the fact that the Master got to keep what the servants worked for and called Him a “hard man” for it. He didn’t like the idea of working for the benefit of someone else. This third point is very much related to the first. Part of being a Christ follower is learning to accept that what we have is given to us so that we can create more for the purposes of God.
The fourth point is that each servant was given talents based on their current state.
As Christians, we must hang on to the promise in the bible that all things work together for the good of us who love Him. This means that the specific situation I am in was intentionally decided on based on my current overall state. Where God has placed me is where He knows I can build skill and character for whatever He has in store for me in the future. It’s now about my willingness to face the place I am in faithfully.
So why be faithful? I believe that we can draw inspiration from the stories of God and Israel in the bible. No matter how many times the Israelites turned their back on God, He never stopped pursuing them. Same thing goes for us, no matter how many times we mess up and turn away from the wishes of God, He faithfully pursues us and is ready to forgive if only we would turn to Him. God is faithful to us without any reason other than His genuine care and love. In our journey of learning about God through scripture and living out the principles of His word in real live, it will become increasingly clear to us that God is the opposite of a “hard man”.
As an exercise, list three things you feel you can do more faithfully and commit to do something about them immediately. One mistake I keep committing is that I limit my being a Christ follower to the “big-ticket items”: being active in church or being honest in business. Being a faithful christian has a lot more to do with the “simple things”: being there for a friend, being understanding of people’s feelings even when you know you are right, and other “little” things we can do everyday to show our love for God and our neighbors. We must build character so that we can handle whatever dreams God has in store for us.
Faithfulness is in the now and is in the little.
Our front image is a photo of the Apple I , the first computer Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built in Job’s parent’s garage in 1976. Only 200 units were made, according to the website Old Computers, and up to 50 are thought to have survived. This is our tribute to the man who challenged the world to think differently.