“Watching & Waiting” Meditations: 18. Handling the Riches
Mt 25:15 “To one he gave five bags of gold [or five talents], to another two bags, and to another one bag.”
Jesus’ parable of the talents that modern versions change to bags, has a footnote that says it would take an ordinary labourer about 20 years to earn a talent of gold. So this employer gives out mega-bucks! Enough for this first one to become a hedge-fund manager, the second to become a property developer and the third … well choose what you want to do, it’s a lot! If Bill Gates said, “Here’s a hundred million to use for good, what would you do? I suggest pray for wisdom. It doesn’t matter what God gives each of us, it’s staggeringly more than we realise and we still need to pray, a) to understand how much it is, b) how much you could achieve and c) how you need to go about it! Ponder that if prayer is your ‘talent’ or bag of gold to be used!
But what if we don’t feel prayer warriors? I don’t. I’m a pygmy in comparison to some of the people – mostly women – I’ve encountered along the way who seem to have prayer and intercessions weaved through their very beings so it is the most natural thing to do. Yes, I have been in, and led prayer meetings galore in the days gone by and relished in the wonder of praying in the Lord’s presence, and yes there have been times when prayer has felt like the air we breath – just natural. But it’s not like that most of the time. And yet there are times when someone with a need crosses my path and suddenly it seems like I am anointed with faith as I pray over them in ways that later I wonder about – where did all that come from? It is like there is this spring that just sometimes wells up and pours forth amazingly or, to use a different analogy, there is a room full of amazing resources where, when there is a crisis in someone else’s life, I go there and find what’s needed – though it isn’t like that most of the time, just the times, it seems, when He sees this is what is needed and releases it to me.
So you don’t feel a prayer giant or an intercessory hero, but the truth is that the resources are there, probably infinitely greater than we realise most of the time. Jesus said, “the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life,” (Jn 4:14) and “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit.” (Jn 7:38,39) Then of course there was that picture that Ezekiel had, of a river flowing out from the temple, a river that flowed deeper and deeper the further it got from the temple, bringing life to the land where it flowed (Ezek 47).
Now all of these verses point to the same thing: there is a resource that God provides that does not depend on us, it depends on Him. It is His Holy Spirit, this resource, and because He is eternal there no end to this supply. Now when we read Jesus’ parable from which we get our starter verse, we tend to see these resources as one lump sum, and that’s how it is in the parable – this rich man with his servants, depicting God with us – he hands out these bags of gold as this version puts it, so there you are with this single bag (?) or pile of bags at your feet for you to use. And that’s true, this is what He does, give us these ‘talents’, these resources which He expects us to use. But the water pictures add another dimension to our understanding, that the resources He hands to us, are just the start, they come from a ‘spring’ or a ‘river’ and both suggest ongoing volumes of supply.
So here we are, ‘standing on the ramparts’, or sitting in our quiet place, and some days we wonder what we are doing. After a bad night’s sleep, or some family mishap occurring, we feel less than wonderful. It’s a grey day, so different from the previous day when it was pure blue sky and the sun had shone and transformed the world into beautiful colours. And we stand or sit there feeling impotent and incompetent. The enemy reminds us of the healing we are not seeing, the family members who appear to remain impervious to the Lord, the difficult circumstances that don’t seem to get any easier with the passing of days.
And then the still small voice from heaven whispers, “What have you got there?” Just five small loaves and a couple of fishes that are nowhere near enough for what is needed, (Mt 14:17) or “nothing at all except a small jar of oil.” (2 Kings 4:2) He blesses it and so it starts, a revelation of a resource that cannot be seen with the natural eye, a resource that will go on and on until the need is fully met with some left over. So as you sit or stand there feeling impotent and incompetent, you sit in silence and He fills it with His presence, you utter a word and to your surprise another follows it, and another and another and the river is flowing. You think, I don’t know what to say to my unsaved loved one, but as you become sensitive to Him, you finds words flowing. They ask you to pray and you wonder what. You start on familiar ground, that God loves this person, and then suddenly you start seeing pictures, ‘words’ start coming, verses spring to mind and suddenly the river is flowing. The resource is there, enormous, enough to make you a hedge-fund manager or real estate manager, and all you’ve got to do is be available and open and let it flow, which is what it will do once you start.