by Kari Diane Pike
When Theresa Sneed introduced me to American Night Writers twenty-one years ago, I had no idea what was in store. Through ANWA I’ve not only had the opportunity to improve my writing skills, but made lifelong friendships. Those friendships have given me strength when I’ve felt weak, courage when I’ve been afraid, and hope when I couldn’t see beyond the challenges.
That’s the biggest reason, when asked by Deb Eaton if I would be willing to step in and serve in the treasurer position, I had to say yes, even though I had zero bookkeeping experience (Don’t worry – I am being trained by highly qualified mentors). Deb’s comment that the experience would look great on my resume may or may not have played a tiny part in my agreeing to give it a try. Of course, there’s also the opportunity to hang out with some pretty amazing ladies behind the scenes and soak in their wisdom and wit. Sometimes they even share chocolate. Was I scared? Definitely. I still am. But I know it will all work out.
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 is one I have read and pondered on multiple times, but every time I study those words, I gain a new perspective. My most recent encounter came while preparing to teach a seminary lesson. In Matthew 25: 14-30 a wealthy man, before traveling to a far country, gives of his goods to his servants. To the first he gave ten talents, the second, five talents and to the third, one talent – “…to every man according to his several ability.” The rich man then left on his journey and during his absence, the first man took the five talents with which he had been entrusted and “traded with the same and made them five other talents.” The man who had received two talents put them to work and made two more. The third man, afraid of losing what he had received, buried his talent in the earth and did nothing with it (You can also watch a great video portrayal here).
From a lesson I gave last week, I learned that during the time of Christ, one talent equaled about 10,000 denarii (Roman currency) and that a common laborer typically earned one denarius per day. Can you imagine being handed one talent (the equivalent of twenty-seven years of labor) let alone two or even five and being trusted to take care of it for someone?
When the lord of those servants returned to reckon with them, he gave the same response to the first two servants, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” and made them rulers over many things. Their blessing was the same because they had used their gifts to the best of their abilities and fulfilled their purpose. Even though the third servant didn’t lose the talent his lord had given him, it was taken away from him because he let fear keep him from using the gift and increasing it.
Elder Sterling W. Sill of the Seventy said, “[The third servant’s] loss was not because he did anything wrong, but rather because his fear had prevented him [from] doing anything at all. Yet this is the process by which most of our blessings are lost…When one fails to use the muscles of his arm he loses strength….When we don’t develop our abilities, we lose our abilities. When the people in past ages have not honored the Priesthood, it has been taken from them. Neither spiritual, mental, nor physical talents develop while they are buried in the earth” (The Law Of the Harvest , 375).
Another little story taken from the Savior’s life helped me better understand what it can mean to not be afraid to share what gifts we have, as insignificant as that contribution may seem.
When Jesus learned about the death of his beloved friend and cousin, John the Baptist, He crossed the Sea of Galilee and took Himself “into a desert place apart” (Matthew 14: 13-21). When the people discovered where He had gone, they followed Him. Even in His own time of sorrow, Jesus took compassion on them and healed their sick. The hour became late and being “in a desert place” there wasn’t a place close by where the multitude could find food. Andrew told Jesus that there was a young lad with five barley loaves and two small fishes, “But what they among so many?”
The Savior instructed his disciples to bring the bread and fishes to Him. He gave thanks for the food, blessed it and brake it and gave it to His disciples to distribute among the people. Everyone all ate until they were filled and twelve baskets full were left over.
In the past, I’ve always focused on the compassion the Savior had and the miracle He performed in providing for some five thousand people. I hadn’t thought about the young boy giving all he had, even though his offering seemed meager and wholly inadequate. And then the Savior used His power to make the young boy’s sacrifice enough and to spare – a wondrous miracle indeed.
The Savior has given me gifts according to my abilities. Every talent carries tremendous value, but I don't need to be afraid to use them because I know more than ever that the Savior accepts whatever I can give, no matter how insignificant my offering may seem. All He asks is that I try. He makes my effort enough. He makes me enough. Through His atoning sacrifice He cleanses, heals, enables, redeems, inspires, strengthens, and helps me become what He created me to be.
Life is magnificent.