There was a fellow who had two sons. It was a Saturday afternoon- all 3 men had slept in late. There had been a quiet snowfall during the night, leaving their neighborhood covered in a blanket of icy cold flakes. The elder son is quietly working on his homework in his room, hoping to finish it quickly so that he could have the rest of his weekend free. The other boy, not all that much younger, is lounging in his beanbag chair in front of the TV, intently playing his video game.
The Dad, realizing he had overslept, scrambles around the house in a mad rush to get ready for his meeting in just half an hour. After spilling coffee on every square inch of the kitchen, putting his shirt on inside-out, and forgetting his tie, he is finally out the door running toward his car, when he slips and falls *SMACK* - right on his back. He moans as he gets up and looks about him. Snow. He's about to tip toe to his car and leave the hazardous sidewalk behind, when he notices that his portion of the sidewalk is the only un-shoveled portion of pavement on his whole street. With a groan of frustration, he tramps back into his house through the ankle-deep frostiness.
"Jimmy!!" he shouts as soon as he walks back in the door. He's not surprised to hear his son's "What?!" coming from just around the corner in the family room. When Jimmy wasn't eating or sleeping, he was in front of that TV playing his games. "Jimmy, I have to run to work or I'll be late- but the walkway needs to be shoveled. Would you be able to do that for me?" Without pausing the game, Jimmy performs an exaggerated sigh and eye roll would impres any drama student. "But Daaad, I did it last! You always make me do it- why don't you ask Brayden? He's older and stronger anyways. Plus, I think I'm coming down with a cold. *Cough, cough*"
Wanting to be fair, and also not wanting to waste any more time, the Dad runs to the foot of the stairs leading to the other boy's room. "Braaayden!!" he shouts up to his eldest- knowing his voice has to overcome the music blasting through his son's headphones. After shouting again, he succeeds in receiving a hoarse "Yeeeeahh???" from his most diligent son. "I have to go to work- Jimmy says it's your turn to shovel the walkway. Could you have that done before I get back?" Much to his delight, Brayden answers with, "Okay- I'll do it after I finish this project!"
A couple hours tick by, and the father pulls back up to his house to find his walkway perfectly clear of all snow- a job well done. As he gathers his books and papers together, he can't help but feel honored to have such a responsible son who is such a good example to his younger brother. As he steps in the door and goes to greet his sons, he tosses a casual, "By the way, thanks for doing such a great job of shoveling, Brayden." But to his surprise, he watches his eldest son's eyes go wide, and his face start to colour. "Oh. Sorry about that Dad, I completely forgot! I was so focused on my project- it took longer than I expected."
Confused, the Dad look slowly over to his younger son, standing awkwardly in the corner. "Jimmy? Did you shovel the walk?" Jimmy nods, feeling awkward because of how he had refused his father earlier. "You told me you wouldn't do it earlier. What changed your mind?" Jimmy looks at the ground in embarrassment before thoughtfully replying with, "...because you're my Dad, and you asked me to."
This story is actually a parable, straight from the mouth of Jesus. This is simply my attempt at translating the short story into a modern scenario that might give you a clearer picture of what's going on. It is found in Matthew 21:28-32. Jesus told this short snippet of a skit amidst a cluster of other parables, all of the same nature; they were all about the end times. The Parable of the Great Feast, the Evil Farmers, and even a direct foretelling of the future. It seems like a simple fable, but the true meaning is much more compelling than a simple piece of advice.
The Father is coming back. Tonight, tomorrow, next week, next year, next century- nobody knows. And because nobody knows, a lot of us are losing track of time. We're busying ourselves with our 'homework,' even after promising to take care of the important jobs that our Father has assigned to us. He's told us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). He's commanded that we preach the Gospel to the unbelievers (Matthew 28:16-20). He has taught us by example to give up our lives and live as a slave (Matthew 20:27).
And what have we done about those commands? When He comes back, I suppose we could argue our case by showing him the binder full of songs we've written and sung about loving people. Maybe He'd be pleased with the number of verses we've highlighted in our Bibles. Or- hey! What about this blog I've written? That oughta count for something, right?
God has commanded us to be the workers in His field- the workers that are supposed to be bringing in the Harvest. But we've done better! We've made clubs and Bible studies and talked about doing that for hours! We downloaded all the songs that talk about being unashamed, and we only listen to them! (Through our headphones so we don't bother anyone else, of course.) Oh, and we also read a few good books and articles about missionaries overseas and their awesome stories. And what about that one time we mentioned a Bible verse in our English essay?
So when God comes back and looks at what we've done about His commands, boy will we have a lot to show Him! "God, we sung about your commands, we talked about them with each other, we listened to them, we read them, we even memorized them- word for word and the reference! We posted a few statuses quoting them, we put them on our walls, we wrote some references on our family's Christmas cards, and we even subscribed to the "Verse-a-Day" app on our phones!"
And what will God say to that? What will He say to those of us who act like Brayden? Standing in church every Sunday and singing "I will rise when He calls my name," and "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine," and then trudging through the rest of the week worrying only for our own interests does not get the job done. Talking and debating, discussing and arguing for hours just to prove a point, and then ending the conversation there is not the kind of relationship that Jesus intended for us to have with people- it doesn't accomplish anything!
And because so many of us are so incredibly preoccupied with worldly goals and shallow ambitions- are we prepared for our Father to return? Or will we be put to shame because we forgot to shovel the sidewalk?
"So you, too, must keep watch! For you don't know the day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.
A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. But what if the servant is evil and thinks, 'My master won't be back for a while, and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There was a part of me that hesitated as I wrote that, because of how harsh it sounded. But those are the words of Christ! And of everything in the Bible- His words are the words we should be savouring. He is God! Those verses cause me to really take a step back and reflect... are there any jobs that I am procrastinating on? If Jesus came back tonight, are there jobs that I have left unfinished, in my pursuit of my self-created dreams?
All I know is this: the talents that I have do not belong to me. They are a loan. A loan that, if not used properly, will stand as evidence against me someday. They were given to me from the real Owner to be multiplied for His purpose. I do believe that God is using me with my writing. But at the same time, anyone can write. It just takes a brain and some time. It's an entirely different thing to do the things that are written. I certainly don't want to be like the Pharisees. Just take a look at what Jesus said about them:
"The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don't follow their example. For they don't practice what they preach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show.
In short, let's think about what we are saying when we promise to follow Christ. Can you imagine if when Jesus called the disciples to follow Him, they shouted "Coming!" and then remained where they were- repairing nets or collecting taxes? It's absurd! Are we lying to ourselves and to God by singing and talking about following Him even unto death, and then neglecting to care for the people around us? Say what you mean. Mean what you say. You are on the Mission Field!
"So why do you keep calling me 'Lord, Lord!' when you don't do what I say?"
We don't know when our Dad is coming back. So if you say you're going to shovel the sidewalk- you'd better get at 'er!