Risk and Reward

Recently, I was reading the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25: 14-28. In the parable, a master goes on a journey and leaves his servants in charge of his property. He gives a different amount of talents to each of the servants “according to his ability”. Two of the servants take the talents they were given and doubled their value while the master was away. The third servant took his talent and buried it in the ground.
When the master returns, he praises the first two servants saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” The third servant is rebuked for his lazy attitude. At the very least, his talent could have earned money in the bank. Instead, it was useless buried in the ground.
As I was thinking about this parable, it isn’t so hard for me to identify with the third servant. He may have been lazy, but he took the safe road. He could have invested the talent, but there was always a risk that he could lose all of what he had. He chose safety over risk. He chose a road with no responsibility. He didn’t try to think of what he could do to increase the amount he had. He just buried it. And under the ground, he didn’t have to think about it. He knew it would be there when he returned.
It’s easy to follow the path of the third servant. It’s easy to play it safe and not take risks in life. After all, when you’re playing it safe, it’s easier to control things on your own. The outcome is more predictable. You don’t have to ask for help. You’re in familiar territory. You feel safe.
I don’t think God wants us to play it safe. He wants us to take risks. He wants us to trust Him to control our lives. He wants us to follow His paths even when we don’t know why or how or even the final destination. It reminds me of when God called Abram and said, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12: 1-2) God told him to leave everything that was familiar; leave your family, your friends, your surroundings, your comfort zone and go where I tell you. He didn’t tell Abram how he would get there or what would happen along the way. All Abram knew was that God made a promise to bless him. And in faith, Abram left. He followed God. It wasn’t an easy road for him...and there were lots of roadblocks along the way. Abram didn’t always make the right decision, but God was working all along through great acts of faith (his willingness to sacrifice his son) and moments of disbelief (Hagar). Abram didn’t play it safe. He could’ve taken the path of the third servant by staying in his home with his family and friends. But what would he have gained if he had done this? He is a pillar of faith, an example of an imperfect man that followed God and believed His promises.
In the parable, the master says, “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” God expects much from those who He has blessed with much. He wants us to follow him. He wants us to take risks with what He has given us. He wants us to follow him, unafraid and trusting in His perfect will.
I’m about to move 3,000 miles across the country. It’s a risk. I’m leaving a place where I’m comfortable, where I understand how I fit in, where I know people. In the past, God has blessed me tremendously each time I’ve taken a risk. It has never been easy. In fact, it has been quite painful at times. However, I can’t begin to imagine where I’d be right now if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zones. I don’t know where I would be today if I had buried my talent over and over. God blesses those who are willing to takes risks and follow Him...no matter where that might lead. Even 3,000 miles away...