I’ve known the parables attributed to Jesus ever since my boyhood days in Sunday School class and vacation Bible School. To me they were nothing more than neat stories which had no application in contemporary society. Not until I was ready for God to illuminate my darkness, did I read these parables in a spiritual context. They then began to pop off the pages with amazing truth and wisdom.
The story of the prodigal son is my favorite because I lived that story through alcoholism and recovery. The verses continue to humble me today even after many years of sober-living. I knew of a God as a child, I turned my back and traveled to the “far country” to find my fortune and pleasure, I suffered financially and morally, I finally came home to Father who was waiting excitedly for me with open arms. It was probably the most profound home-coming I shall ever experience.
One of today’s inspirational readings cites the parable of the talents. “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling to a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.” Matthew 25:14
In the times of Jesus a talent was worth more than $5000. To one servant he gave 5 talents, to anther he gave 2, and to another he gave 1 talent. The first two servants invested the money wisely and when the man returned from his travels his money had increased. The third servant had buried the talent in the ground for fear of losing it and thereby bearing his master’s wrath upon returning. The servant did indeed suffer his master’s anger because of his timidity in using the talent wisely.
Jesus is the travelling man who showered humanity with unfathomable wealth in wisdom and truth before he was crucified. He entrusted his disciples with the “talents” of eternity instructing them to invest that which he had taught them and to increase God’s wealth throughout the world. That’s his simple directive yesterday, today, and forever.
I am basically an easy-going man. Don’t get excited about too many things and don’t rely on worldly wealth for validation or fulfilment. There is a part of me that could be labeled “lazy”. Yep, guilty as charged. Sloth is one of my favorite character defects and it has been a reliable bed mate of depression for most of my life. Two more of sloth’s definitions in the Merriam Webster are “inertia” and “apathy”. If I am inert it is probably because I am also depressed. If I am depressed it is probably because I am inert. Both scenarios lead to apathy. Therefore, it is in my best interest and the health of my sobriety to stay active, stay involved with other recovering addicts, and stay protected by the wisdom of AA literature and scriptures. That is my best defense against sloth, apathy, depression, and inertia.
Not only during this special observance time of giving thanks, but always, my recovery from alcoholism needs a daily dose of gratitude, a fix of appreciation for the multitude of blessings received, unmerited and undeserved, from a power greater than myself, a Higher Power whom I call God. It is my fix for the brokenness which I call Larry.
“This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine”. Childhood Sunday School simplicity nails the heart of Matthew 25: 14-28, the parable of the talents. God did not save me from the pits of hell lived in alcoholic stupor to rise up into the salvation of sobriety without stipulations. Jesus has told me that merely being sober is not enough. The wealth, the talents, he has bestowed are not meant to be buried or hidden under a bushel basket. They are to be shared unselfishly with the broken masses. They are meant to be invested in the still suffering addict, the depressed man who has no source of consolation, and ultimately returned to Jesus himself as payment with interest for his grace shed upon me. It’s not complicated and with an attitude of gratitude, it is entirely possible for even a man like me, a wretched and lost soul, to return and bask in the light of God.