At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Grace in Being Overlooked

          One of the quirks of life may be when we do what is required of us, but we get overlooked. We might be totally faithful--or as faithful as we possibly can be--to God’s plan, and yet we might not be fully in the limelight. How do we deal with those “trials”? 

          In thinking about these matters, a couple of years ago I decided to try my hand at adopting Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents”. The question I had in mind was "How could this be told from the perspective of the 'middle guy' who had two talents of silver?" The result was--for me--a fresh look at a message of undeserved love that had been sitting there staring me in the face long before I recognized it.
          Yes, literary liberty has been taken with the story, but please dwell on the main point rather than the details.

The Parable of the Talents: The Man in the Middle
            Without hesitation, I approached the king. He looked upon me with a warm smile as I held out my hands and presented the treasure chest to him. “Your majesty,” said, “You have given me two talents of silver. And look, through careful investment and planning, I have doubled that total to four!”
            True, I thought. That is not as much as Simon, who was given five talents and doubled that to ten. But hey, it’s the same percentage increase. The king must be pleased with me.
            And pleased he was. “Well done!” he smiled. “You have been faithful in smaller details, and so I will bless you with the oversight of even greater things! You have done well, Matthias, and I could not be prouder of you!” He laid a kind hand on my shoulder and gripped it lightly. With my eyes glistening, he waved me to his side chamber where I met with Simon.
            “Great work, Matthias!” said Simon. “And you too, my friend!” I spoke back to him. I had wondered why the king had given us differing amounts of wealth to steward well, but that seemed to be a distant memory. All was well now.
            But not for long! There was a crash and a thud from the throne room, and soon that worthless Thomas was racing past us to get outdoors. The king was hot on his heels, screaming, “ONE TALENT! I give you one measly talent, and all you do is STUFF IT UNDER YOUR PILLOW AT NIGHT and BURY IT IN THE FIELD and do nothing with it? GET OUT!”
            Shaking with rage, the king turned to us, and once he got a hold of his emotions, he handed the silver talent to Simon and said, “Here, my friend. You earned it whereas Thomas did not. Add it to your amount.”
            And then the king turned and was gone.
            Simon fingered the talent uneasily, looked at me, shrugged, smiled, and quietly shuffled out of the chamber.
            And there I was, stunned, along with my thoughts.
            Excuse me?! I thought to myself. We both work hard. We both do well. I struggle to succeed and do well just as Simon does…AND HE GETS THE SILVER? What about me? What about my efforts? I thought the king was pleased with me!
            I sat down, head in my hands, wondering why this was happening to me.
            And at that point, I heard the voice of my servant, Saul. In every situation, his wisdom and sensitive nature never wavered. And here it came again.
            “Sir,” he said, “Why are you upset?”
            “Isn’t it obvious?” I roared back. “I work myself hard and invest that silver carefully while the king is away on that long trip, present doubled income to him when he returns, listen to him praise me up one side and down the other, and now he overlooks me and gives that extra talent of silver to Simon. HOW DOES HE JUSTIFY THAT?”
            “I do not know the exact answer to your question, sir,” said Saul, “but I do know this. He was pleased with you, wasn’t he?”
            I paused, then answered meekly, “Yes.”
            “And,” continued Saul, “He gave you more rule, more responsibility, more opportunity to live well and please him, didn’t he?”
            “Yes,” I quietly growled, knowing where this was going.
            “So you are a bit upset about being overlooked when you performed well. Might I remind you that you have no right to be in this position at all?”
            I turned to him and quietly asked, “What do you mean?”
            Saul spread his hands and continued, “You owe your life to this king. He didn’t even have to choose you for this task, but he did. He didn’t have to give you the silver in the first place, yet he did. And he could have asked why you hadn’t done more with it. But he didn’t. Here you have a king who is proud of you, excited about your service, and loves you like he loves his own child.”
            I looked down at the small treasure chest I had brought in. I had come in looking for recognition from my king. I had received that, but in truth, I had been given so much more that I had failed to see.
            “And so, Matthias,” Saul finally said after a long pause, “given all that, because your king loves you, shouldn’t that be enough?”

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