Redeeming it all for Christ
During the summer when my research program is operating at full tilt, I receive packages almost every day. Most of them contain consumable molecular biology supplies like tubes of DNA polymerase for detecting specific genes in a sample, bottles of media for culturing bacteria, and reams of antibiotic disks for testing the antibiotic susceptibility of bacteria. On occasion, a textbook publisher will send me their latest release in my discipline in the hopes that I will adopt it for my classes. A couple weeks ago, though, an oddly shaped package was delivered to my office.
It was about two and a half feet long and triangular in shape instead of square like a normal box. It was addressed by hand and the return address was from Fresno. I had no idea what was inside, but I was certainly intrigued.
After cutting off all the clear tape from one end I pulled out a felt sleeve with multiple pockets running down its length. Each pocket, it turned out, contained a segment of a 4-piece fly rod. One of my former students, Will, had hand-made a 3-weight, 7-foot 9-inch fly rod as a thank-you gift for my years as his advisor.
I was floored. I sat back in my chair trying to wrap my brain around such a personal gift.
Over the ensuing hours and days, I couldn’t seem to shake a sense of God’s hand in this gift. To understand what I mean, you have to understand Will. He’s a fly fisherman himself and knows the intimate relationship a fisherman has with his rod. Additionally, Will is good with his hands, remodeling his family beach house and hand-carving surfboards for his fiancée.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense: Will had taken the gifts God had given him and redeemed them for His glory. Rather than buying something for me to say thanks for my input into his life, he poured some of himself into a gift that I will always treasure.
What Will did for me is a beautiful picture of God’s plan for the gifts he has given to each of us.
In the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that the Master has given us gifts – money, skills, relationships, material stuff, opportunities – and the clear expectation is that we will turn around and use them to His glory, that we will redeem it all to love God and to bless people. When we come to the end of our race, there isn’t one of us that doesn’t want to hear those celebrated words, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
A godly young man in my church named David said to me recently, “My whole life I’ve been given pretty much anything I want. Imagine if I had used it all for God. Imagine what a difference that could have made.” It’s never too late for David to start redeeming it all for Christ. And it’s never too late for you and me either.
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Questions for thought
If you made an inventory of everything God has given you – money, house, car, clothes, stuff, relationships, jobs, church… – it would be an awfully long list. How could you start today, one by one, redeeming each and every one of them for the Lord? How could you make everything on that list matter for more than just your own personal comfort?
If you actively, aggressively pursued contentment in your life, how might that affect your ability to be generous with your time, talent, and treasure?
If the Master returned today and demanded an account like in the Parable of the Talents, of all you had done with what he had entrusted to you, would you hear those coveted words, “Well done good and faithful servant”? If you’re not sure, what needs to change?
Provider God, words cannot express our gratitude for all you have given us. Show us how we can use it all to serve others and bring you glory. May we be found to be good and faithful stewards when you return. Fill us with contentment and extravagant generosity. Teach us to love you and the people you created with reckless abandon. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.