Publishing a book is terrifying.
I mean, this book you’ve spent countless hours crafting, these characters you are convinced are real (I know they’re not, but I’m not the only one who feels this way, right?), this story you love so deeply … is metaphorically tossed to the wolves.
Ok, that’s a little dramatic, but that’s how it can seem sometimes.
I love sitting at my desk and writing for my own pleasure. It’s so enjoyable just to write a story, maybe let one or two family members read it, then tuck it safely away from any other prying eyes.
That’s how I’ve written all of my life. But then, my sister published her first novel, and she urged me to do the same.
But publishing was just as scary as before—even as a bystander. All of that editing? Yuck! All of those pesky typos that always pop up when you’re not looking? Ew.
And having all of these people read your book?
Then one night, I was reading Matthew 25—specifically, the parable of the talents.
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
(Matthew 25: 14 – 18)
So this is the story Jesus tells of a man who had three servants, and he gives each of them a certain number of talents. The first two guys both increased their talents and did something with what he’d given them. The last dude, though, just hid the money—the talent.
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
So the first two guys were faithful servants; they’d doubled their original talents.
Not so with the last dude.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
The last guy hid his talent, because he was afraid. And the end of the story for him isn’t a good one.
Now, sometimes when I’m reading the Bible, I fail to apply it to myself. I just read along, understand what’s happening, then go on with my life. (Bad habit that needs work.)
But that night, the Lord wasn’t going to let me do that.
I could be one of those guys in the parable.
I could be the dude who had two talents, doubled the amount, and was praised by his master. Or I could be the other guy who had five talents and did the same.
Or I could be like the guy who hid his single talent.
Because he was afraid.
Just like I was afraid.
The Lord had given me a talent to some degree—writing. (And yeah, I know a talent is a coin, but I like to think there’s a reason there are two meanings in English.) And for me just to tuck that away, to bury it for no one to see, would not be faithful stewardship with what my Master had given me. We are not our own, but the Lord’s (1 Corinthians 6:19) and are to “Let your light so shine before men…” (Matthew 5:16).
So I didn’t have an excuse.
But the Lord wasn’t done.
He knew I would try to find some other reason to be afraid, to cower from what He had called me to.
Me: I’m not this amazing writer. Not even close. Yeah, I can string some words together, but it’s not that great.
Well, thing is, none of these guys were given equal talents. One got five at the start, the other got two, and the last dude got one.
Yet the faithful ones both received commendation, despite the fact one of them had made much more money than the other. Like, two and a half times the amount the first guy had. “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”(v. 23)
Faithfulness is the Lord’s command, and we are to leave the results in His Hands. Remember that verse in Zechariah that talked about the people who “despised the day of the small things”? (Zechariah 4:10). We’re supposed to be faithful in the little things as well as the big things, and even if my writing’s one of those small things in comparison to other writers, that shouldn’t stop me from obeying God’s call. Yes, I should do my very best to honor the Lord, but beyond that, I must only obey Him.
And whether I started out with one talent, two talents, five talents … it doesn’t really matter.
So, there it is—why I can’t escape publication, even though the thought still makes me highly uncomfortable. But the Lord never told us our life would be easy, did He?
Obedience can be incredibly difficult.
And, interestingly, this theme comes out quite heavily in my upcoming novel, Unknown. I think the Lord knows what I need to be thinking about these days.
What kinds of talents has the Lord given you?