Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. – James 1:17, NKJV
Several years ago I had lunch with a friend whom I had not seen in a while. The conversation was nearing a lull, the kind that often happens between friends who are no longer “current.” Then my friend said something that caught me by surprise and lingers still in memory. She said, “You look really happy in the pictures I see on Facebook.”
Now the irony of that statement is that at the time I was going through one of the darkest periods of my life—and none of my friends really knew about it. My Facebook page certainly did not bear witness to the fact. Meanwhile, I had built glass walls of “perfection” around me. My self-worth demanded nothing less. But glass walls are bound to crack sometime, and I soon found this outward “perfection” impossible to maintain.
Years have passed, but I still find remnants of the glass walls, things I have been loath to give up, cracks I’m afraid to show. And I’ve been thinking lately about Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25:14-30, wondering, is the meaning of “talent” much broader than the unit of currency used at the time of this parable, or even than special abilities and spiritual gifts?
What if it includes one’s testimony, the trials God has allowed one to walk through for His glory?
Could it be that these things are, somehow, “good and perfect gifts”? And that, by sharing them, we can encourage others who are going through the same difficult trials?
In the parable, the wicked servant admits to his master that he hid his one talent because he was afraid. Out of fear, then, he wasted the gift he was given just by keeping it safe.
My conversation with my friend remains in my memory as a reminder that, yes, I have buried my testimony out of fear. I have curled up behind my glass wall of perfection, rather than finding shelter under the wings of the Lord. I have not trusted God to multiply the talent He entrusted to me, to use my struggle with darkness to encourage others. I have nursed my pride and protected my image, rather than sharing the gift that I have been given.
In closing, as follows is a verse which has challenged me to embrace being small and weak and ordinary in the world’s eyes:
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
(2 Cor. 12:9, NKJV).
When we are small, He is big. When we are ordinary, He is stunning. When we are weak, He is strong.