You are the best
gift God has ever made
Leonard B. Oakes, HCSM
Three years ago, this month, God answered the prayers of Holy Child and St. Martin Congregation by calling The Rev. Leonard Oakes as their third Vicar. The Bishop of California and HCSM Senior Warder asked me if I was willing to serve. I answered “Yes”. I did not regret accepting the call for I knew that God called me here for a purpose. I can say I had been faithful to God by listening to His voice or at least I can say I was not afraid to do His command by multiplying the talents He has given me with great expectation that it will grow not only twice or five times but 10 times or a hundred times more.
The Gospel today tells us that he who was given five talents made five talents more, and he who had two made two more, but he who had only one hid his money in the ground and therefore did not earn anything. Now, prior to the economic downturn, a lot of people would criticize the person who hid his talent. However, when you start to lose your 401k and other stocks, maybe we can say he is wise. But perhaps there was a deeper reason why the man with one talent buried the gift that was given him. If we examine it closely, this is what he said, “I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.”
“I was afraid….” That sounds very revealing, and it may well be the reason for the way he acted. He was afraid.
There is no denying that fear is a common human experience. Fear of dying, fear of losing home, fear of losing jobs, and fear of losing your stocks. Fear of losing friends because you cannot give back or do what you promised and soon will result to estranged relationships. Fear of failing in school. Fear of losing your love ones and most of all we are always afraid- afraid of something or somebody.
This kind of fear is normal part of our existence and it has some positive functions. It prevents us from being too happy-go-lucky; it challenges us to resist the feeling of over-confidence; it hinders us from being too sure and too careless. It is fear that we can control; it can be made into an asset. But when fear controls us, when it paralyzes us into uselessness, laziness, then it becomes woefully dehumanizing, and that was why the man in the parable buried his talent. He was afraid. He was frozen with fear and did not venture at all.
When people cannot do anything because of fear, even their ability to think for themselves is greatly weakened. But something within us makes us realize that human development requires that we be enabled to overcome our fear and thus create an atmosphere where people can act out of their honest convictions.
The tragic mistake of the man with one talent was of being afraid to fail and he did not try at all. He failed the test of the master. The master wanted to know if the man was willing to face the risks. And that is one test we will always have in life. And as Christians, we should have the courage to face the test. We may not always succeed; sometimes we may fail, but failure need not be dishonorable. It is the failure of courage that is dishonorable. When the master commended the men entrusted with five and two talents, he did not say, “Good and successful servants;” he said, “Good and faithful servants.” Whatever importance we may attach to success, success is not the most important thing in the eyes of God, it is faithfulness. Our calling is to be faithful. Faithfulness may lead us to success; it may also lead us to failure but it is faithfulness that counts.
How about you? Have you discovered the talents God has given you? Kindly ask the person next to you, “What talent have you discovered of yourself?” Beauty? Brain? Arts? Giver?” Are there things that you can do well or specific areas in which you excel? Don’t take them for granted. It may be singing, altar serving, altar guild, gardening, leadership; Greeter?
That’s one of the wonderful talent one could have, to be able to greet someone who comes in to the church, old and new and be able to extend that even after church, to sit down with that person at the coffee hour and make the person feel at home. Whatever it is, don’t belittle the talent God has given you. You are called here for a purpose. That may well be precisely what God has hardwired into you. It may be an important part of your destiny. Make sure that you explore it to the fullest, keeping in mind that what seems boring to one person may be exhilarating to another for whom that area is part of his or her destiny.
Remember, “God has given each of you the talents to do certain things well.” Focus on your strengths. When you are truly in your destiny, it is not a constant struggle. It just feels right.
You are called to make sure that you are fulfilling the dreams that God has placed in your heart. You are the best gift God has ever given. Are you tapping into the potential that’s on the inside? Have you discovered what you do best, what comes naturally? Are you excelling in that area?
If at school you are a leader in your class, don’t stop there, you are able to share time for school, share time for church as well. Remember, those opportunities were not there in the first place had it not been because of God who made things possible for you. Find time to come and pray and regain strength from God every time you come to receive the Holy Communion and be able to go out ready to do the task waiting for
you in the world.
If you are at a stay home person or mom, do it to the best of your ability. Don’t allow society to pressure you into some career simply because your friends are doing it. Recognize your purpose and do it well.
If you are gifted in the area of nursing and patient care, don’t frequent your sick calls. Remember that those elderly need your tender loving care. Get into the area of your gifting, and do it to the best of your ability. They need your compassion, show it to them, be the light to the rest of your co-workers showing them the proper way to care for your patients.
If you’re called to teach children, excel in it and you honor God. Whatever you are called to do, if you’ll do it to the best of your ability and excel at it, you are honoring God.
I challenge you all especially the youth and young adult, the young mothers and fathers, to find one thing that you’re passionate about and start giving yourself to it. And God will lead you one step at a time.
Remember, God is faithful and just, He wants us to do the same. He called you here in this place for a purpose. Follow God’s divine destiny for your life, discover your calling, and stay in your purpose. Make a decision to keep pressing forward, keep believing, and keep stretching until you see your dreams fulfilled. Then one day, you will look back and say with confidence, “Thank God for all your blessings, thanks for showing me the way that I reached my destiny without fear, thanks for making me an instrument of your love.”
Today, we also remember our Veterans who sacrificed their lives and families for our freedom. Let us offer them a prayer:
God of compassion, God of dignity and strength, We remember before you our Veterans. Watch over them O Lord, in recognition of their loyal service to our nation. Bless them with wholeness and love. Shelter them. Heal their wounds, Comfort their hearts. Grant them peace.
Bless O God these men and women of courage and valor, With a deep and abiding understanding Of our profound gratitude. Protect them and their families from loneliness and want. Grant them lives of joy and bounty. May their dedication and honor be remembered as a blessing from generation to generation. Amen.