At different times in their lives, the children of a particular family were summoned to their father’s office. He called them in and sat them down and told them that he was going to give them something precious. What he gave them might be different from what he had given their siblings, but it would be no less valuable to him, no less cherished. He would give them something and ask them to care for it, to treasure it, and to faithfully steward it. He explained that he would give them something specially suited to each of them as individuals, for as their father he knew them well—he knew their abilities, he knew their capacities, he knew their every strength and weakness, their every love and hate, their every dream and desire.
And so on the appointed day, each of them emerged from their father’s office with a new possession. One emerged with the title to a large piece of land, another with the deed to a large building, another with the position as head of one of the father’s businesses. Each emerged with a unique possession but with the same instruction: Make something of this. Make something of this on behalf of the father who loves you and for the good of our family.
The children took what they had been given and, to their surprise, found that they were sometimes attended with great difficulties. The one who received land found that, though it was fertile, it was unbroken and needed extensive care before it would be ready to bear crops. The one who received a building found that, though it was large, it was in poor condition and needed many repairs before it could be leased and generate an income. The one who received a business found that there was fierce competition and diminishing demand for its products. Yet each trusted their father so treasured what he had given and did their utmost to prove faithful to all he had called them to do.
And much like this, God grants to each of us something valuable that we are to receive and to treasure and to steward. He grants to each of us something that is meaningful to him and something for which he says “Make something of this.” And, like the father in our story, he may grant something that involves great potential but also great struggles, great possibilities but also great pain.
He may assign to one a painful and unrelenting illness. This is a difficult circumstance that comes with gritted teeth and sleepless nights and an uncertain future. Yet it also comes with many opportunities to practice dependence upon God, to devote sleepless nights to prayer, to display joy even through unremitting pain. This is a difficult thing to receive, yet one that is precious to God, for he values weakness and dependence and loves those who endure it in such a way as to shine his light in the darkness. Surely he assigns it carefully and purposefully and with great tenderness.
He may call one to parent a child who is profoundly disabled. This is no easy assignment, no easy calling, yet it is one through which the parent can serve as a clear display of God’s love for his people, of his commitment to us despite our inability, our helplessness, our utter dependence. Surely this is an assignment God bestows upon those he trusts and treasures in a special way since he calls these ones to care for his most special little lambs.
He may call one to pass through a sore bereavement, to have to say farewell so soon to ones they had loved, ones upon whom they depended, ones with whom they had planned a bright future. This assignment is given along with a broken heart and shattered dreams and days and nights of deep sorrow. And yet these ones are able to display trust in God despite griefs, to display faith that will endure such difficult circumstances, to proclaim to church and world alike that they will be true to the Lord when he gives as well as when he takes away.
The father of our story and the Father of our hearts bestow assignments upon each of us as they see fit. They do not bestow them thoughtlessly or arbitrarily, but with great care, great consideration, great deliberateness. Each gives what he does out of knowledge, not ignorance, with an awareness not only of who we are but of who we will become. Each gives what he does out of love and according to a good plan and purpose.
What the Father gives, it falls to us to receive, and to receive with faith—faith that God means for us to receive it and faith that God has a purpose in it, even if that purpose is not now clearly visible to our eye. It falls to us to receive willingly and steward faithfully in honor of the one who has so consistently and so extravagantly proven his love for us.