Earlier this week Ken and I went to go celebrate with a friend, JasMin, who received a prestigious award for nursing. It was great to see her honored, and remember the process that went into her receiving the award. I remember JasMin when she had just started working at Jackson Hospital, and what she went through as a new nurse. I remember her discussing her ideas to improve the nursing program.
The cool thing about JasMin’s story is that she went out on a limb and tried to implement her ideas. It’s like an illustration of the parable of the talents. She didn’t sit on her talents. She didn’t give into procrastination. She didn’t remain in the land of good intentions. She took a risk and approached the charge nurse and told her about what she would like to do. And then she pushed herself through the process of executing her ideas.
And it all paid off. JasMin was able to create a program to help new nurses acclimate into the hospital environment. She also implemented a program to allow oncology patients access to sterile wipes.
Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more.The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more.But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. (Matt 25)
What did God say to the servant who hid the money? “You wicked and lazy servant!”
Why was the servant wicked? What a strong word! The servant was wicked because there was so much good that could have been done, that didn’t get done. The servant was wicked because he had no faith. He didn’t believe God would support his efforts, or use them. And the servant was lazy. Lazy people allow excuses to be valid. They are not only lazy, they’re cowardly, because they don’t want to take risks. “The sluggard says, ‘There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!’” Prov. 22:13
The parable of the talents has also been illustrated in a big way this week, because I’ve been attending graduations. My days have been filled with cheering for people who went out on a limb, and worked hard and made sacrifices to achieve an end.
It is easy to see a contrast between them and me as I think of my creative dreams on the back burner, stuck there by a pattern of procrastination, fatigue and discouragement. “Remember your Creator when you are young, before the days of trouble come and the years catch up with you. . . Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets.” (Ecc 2,5)
I’m not negating at all the things I’m doing for God in other ways. I just know that I have been seeking to find ways to use my creative talents. I have many ideas, but they mostly remain in the realm of good intentions.
Thankfully, the graduations have also been a source of inspiration. There is no less potential for me than for the young. I love that one of the commencement speakers pointed me to the words of Steve Jobs in his last speech. I went back and read the speech. Jobs talked about the ups and downs of his life, and how setbacks actually set the stage for success and fulfillment in his future, “ . . . you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
I feel like I am treading water in parts of my life, wasting time, wasting opportunities. But I need to TRUST that the foundation is being laid for my future with the things I am doing now, that the dots will connect.
One thing I am doing now is participating in a writing group. It’s something that just sort of happened. Ken and I saw Jo, a woman I’d been in a writing group with in the past, one day, and my husband told us, “You should start the writing group again.” She said, “I’m game,” and two years later, we’re still meeting every Monday.
I’ve realized lately that the writing group has helped me to find my voice. I’ve tried writing in different styles, and I’m learning what is ME, what comes from my deepest place, what feels right and natural. This is becoming true in other areas of my life. I am learning to find what is authentic inside of me, and to let this be reflected more in my living.
Finding your voice is important, as Jobs went on to say, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. . . ”
So, in closing, here are some points from Galatians that reflect this theme:
1. “Whatever you plant is what you’ll harvest.” (Gal 6:8) I can’t expect to achieve something if I’m not putting myself out there. I can’t let past failures paralyze me. I have to apply my talents and trust that God will use them.
2. “Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers.” (Gal 6:10)People can benefit from my creative abilities. I have opportunities, and I need to make the most of them, not keep passing them by.
I was exchanging Facebook postings this week with Kevin Darby, who leads the music ministry in Athens. He told me, “The world (and especially US) NEEDS the gift that all of our creative expressions really are – and I think that’s what is so beautiful. Those in your world need your creative side – try not to give it your left-overs.”
That is great advice! Our latent talents are important. We often neglect them in the pursuit of hard work for the kingdom. May we find what is authentic for us, our “voice.” May we be intentional and STEP OUT of our comfort zone in faith to achieve the good purposes we were created for.