Using our God-given Talents


In Luke, when Jesus visits with Simon, he asks if Simon sees the woman who is tending to the feet of Jesus. This is a very deep question that Simon does not understand. As humans, we want to be recognized for what we have done in our lives, how much money we have earned, how high we have climbed on the corporate ladder. We are looking to boast, to honor ourselves for our accomplishments. This is what Simon is.

This may be what most of us are. We are tempted to brag about ourselves. We are seeking to be served for the grandiose heights we have achieved. We are not looking to serve. God create us with unique gifts; we are all different in our skills. Linda and I were watching PBS last evening, a special on Peter, Paul, and Mary. During the program, I was dreaming about the memories that this trio brought back to me, memories of my own ambitions as an amateur (very) folk singer. I lacked the talent that these three had. I was jealous.

God didn’t bless me with the talent or the drive to become a famous folk singer, even though I loved and still love the music that this trio and others, such as Tom Paxton, we able to perform. My gifts from God fall elsewhere. But I am still serving God, doing what I can to bring his light to others. When I think back on the folk songs of the 1960s and 1970s, there is definitely a protest entwined in the owrds, but the words also bring us a spirituality that grows within us. Tell me that the words of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” do not bring a thoughtful feeling throughout your very core.

I think if the words of Britts’ Sonnet #1:  How often do we miss the fainter note/
Or fail to see the more exquisite hue/ Blind to the tiny streamlet at our feet/ Eyes fixed upon some other, further view. We are blinded by our own ambitions for ourselves. Like Simon, we cannot see other people for who they truly are, not who we think they are. We are here to help others, to serve others in need, not to boast about our accomplishments.

If I compare myself to others, I sometimes feel that my life had not truly affected the world. But I know this is wrong; I know that God called me to be a teacher, a rabbi, for others to learn from, to emulate. I have met and been the intellectual mentor for many high school and college students. Through Facebook, I have kept in touch with them. Many are married and have successful careers of their own. When I read their profiles, learning of their career choices, learning if their marriages and children, a warm grows within me knowing that perhaps, just perhaps, I affected them positively.

I may not be a Peter, Paul, or Mary, but I pray that I have had similar effects on my former students. I truly believe that tis was God’s will for my life. The more faithful and joyous I am with those I meet, those I pray with, I know that my gift to the world, at least my little part of the world, will make a difference. I also believe in the ripple effect.  This is one of the gifts God has given me.

Enjoy today. It is sunny in Virginia; I pray that those severely affected by the 10 inches of rain we received can pull their lives back together.

Blessings to you all.


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