“Ah!” my wife, Diane, cried as she glanced out the window several years ago. “She’s digging again! Someone needs to go out there and stop her!” I didn’t have to look. There was only one “she” to which Diane could possibly have been referring.
We sent out our then-ten-year-old son to intervene, his seven-year-old brother accompanying him. A moment later I heard a sharp, “No! No digging!” and then they returned, with the horse-of-a-puppy in tow. After he carefully cleaned her paws, our son set her loose in the house. His brother, having quietly observed the proceedings, followed after him.
As they passed out of sight down the hall, I could hear them discussing the number of large holes that had turned a section of our backyard into a lunar landscape.
“We’d better bury the holes,” the younger boy advised solemnly, his comment immediately sparking a question in my mind.
“When you bury a hole,” I wondered, “does it cease to be a hole?” I may or may not have voiced my question aloud, but if I did, anyone in hearing distance wisely chose to ignore me. People in my house know that it doesn’t take a lot of encouragement for these kinds of ponderings to get out of hand.
In this case, a whole series of pointless questions ensued. “Does a hole cease to be a hole when you bury it?” was followed by, “If you bury an especially beloved and valuable hole, should you draw a treasure map so you can find it again?” And then, “If you bury a hole that you really want to keep safe, what’s the best way to guard it so no one comes along, digs it up, and then makes off with it?”
Well, however one chooses to answer such “important” questions, one thing is certain, one must do something about the spiritual holes that we frequently find in the landscape of our lives. And just what are “spiritual holes?” Naturally, one might mean the void in each of our hearts until we find Christ and the urgency for each of us to allow God to fill that void with His loving presence through our repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
“And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us. Whoever keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in them. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit Whom He has given us” (1 John 3:23-24 ESV).
Or, of course, one may be suggesting that there are “holes” in our character. When we can begin to honestly admit that it is so, we can then allow God’s power and His nature to begin to “sew” up such holes so that we might be men and women of integrity whose dealings in this world demonstrate the goodness of God.
“A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight” (Proverbs 11:1 ESV).
And many, many people are contending with yet another kind of hole – a hole into which they pour their giftedness, energy, and resources but without any kind of spiritual dividend returning to them.
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus tells a story about a man who, when setting out upon a long journey, places his resources to three servants. One is given five units of money; the second is charged with three; and the third is entrusted with one. In the Biblical account, the unit of money is generally translated as “talent” and was worth more than a thousand dollars.
While their boss is away, the first two invest their talents in opportunities that yield a return of one hundred percent. Does the third follow their good example? Nope. He buries his in a hole in the ground! When their boss finally returns, he calls a staff meeting in which they each must account for their actions. The first two report and show the fruits of their investments. Their master is very pleased and commends them, entrusting them with incredibly greater opportunities than before.
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master!” (Matthew 25:21 ESV).
But when the third servant reports, he presents to his boss the one talent that had been entrusted to him and admits that he took his charge and simply put it in a hole in the ground! Not only that, but he has the audacity to displace blame onto the master who had entrusted it to him in the first place! As you might suppose, his boss is NOT impressed, confiscates the talent, and kicks the servant out, essentially firing him for laziness and insubordination!
I’m afraid to say that far more of us are more like the third servant than we realize. Here we are, entrusted with oodles of physical, material, relational, and spiritual blessings, and we too often simply sit on them, oblivious to the opportunities to invest them for the kingdom of God. And while we may realize that the “hole” in Jesus’ story partially represents inactivity (simply not using what we’ve been given), that hole ALSO represents our blessings used for any purpose other than the will of God! Watch out that you do not bury what God has given you in holes of ambition, selfishness, greed, or lust. If you take the gifts that God has given to you, for instance, and use them merely to profit yourself or to impress others, you’ve buried your talent in a hole! Or if you take your material blessings and use them just to accommodate your own comforts and plans, you’ve buried your “talent” in a hole of selfishness.
The time is coming when we also will have to account for our blessings in the same way that those three servants did. When it’s YOUR turn, wouldn’t it be a tragedy to see His beautiful face filled with disappointment and to hear His voice utter words rebuking your untrustworthiness?
Let it not be so for you. “Dig up” today whatever you’ve been burying in your own willfulness, and begin to reinvest it in God’s kingdom. Invest your time, your resources, your relationships, and even your words and thoughts in the great work of pleasing Him. Invest and anticipate those wonderful words from the Master, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master!” (Matthew 25:21 and 23 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at email@example.com).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 years. He is the author of “The Fairy Tale Parables,” “Crimson Harvest,” and “A Heart at Home with God.” He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org).