Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Of all the gospel characters I probably identify most with the guy who gets the pink slip from his master at the end of Jesus’ parable today. When I listen to the guy who buried his money because he was afraid of his master, I can identify. I can barely balance my own check book, much less manage someone else’s money. I am not a risk-taker. One of my professors told me before I left seminary, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t be afraid to get into trouble for what you believe.”
I wonder how many of you are like me. I wonder how many of us here are wearing out the eraser end of our pencil long before we run out of lead. How many of us go through life riding the break when it comes to love and Christian witness. How many of us feel sometimes like we’re “measuring out our life in coffee spoons?”
There is a story I read a long time ago that challenges me in the same way that Jesus’ parable challenges me. It teaches me that there is something at stake in this life. It puts the decision of whether or not to risk the little in my hand for the possibility of something greater. The story goes like this:
A man was walking across the desert, stumbling, almost dying of thirst, when he saw a well. As he approached the well, he found a note in a can close by, the note read “Dear friend, there is enough water in this well enough for all, but sometimes the leather washer gets dried up and you have to prime the pump, now if you look underneath the rock just west of the well you will find a bottle full of water, corked. Please don’t drink the water. What you’ve got to do is take the bottle of water and pour the first half very slowly in the pump to loosen up the leather washer. Then pour the rest in very fast and pump like crazy! You will get water. The well has never run dry. Have faith. And when you’re done, don’t forget to put the note back, fill up the bottle and put it back under the rock. Good luck.
How very much life is like that! And how very “gospel” are the questions it leaves me with? Can I trust the message? Is there really water in the well? If I pour the water from the bottle in my hand into the pump will it get me the water that I need? Or is it better to drink the water I’m sure of? Will the water I have be enough to get me through? What if I don’t do it right? What if I don’t pump fast enough? What about the next person?
I know some people who would not hesitate to follow the instructions. They are people of courage. I want to be like them. I want to be like Jesus who trusted his Father and poured out his life for me and hung like an empty cup on the Cross. He was filled to overflowing and he has poured it out on me. I want not be afraid to let you drink from my little cup.
Someone has said, “Without courage, without risk, love is mere sentimentality. Vision without courage is no more than daydreaming.” God grant that each of us may find out what it is that God is counting on us to do – however small, however great – and do it. And do it fearlessly. There is water in the well.