An Open Hand
“For [the kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more… And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
Several years ago I asked my friend Frank if I could use some of the wood in his barn to build a table for our church. Although he had been keeping the wood for some as-yet-undetermined future project, he told me I could have it. Why did he say yes? In Frank’s words, “It will be good to get it into service.”
Frank thinks this way. He has a fair amount of land, a pretty large home, and a shop full of tools in his garage. The number of things I have borrowed from Frank over the years is legion—from books to post-hole diggers to his truck and trailer. He and his wife Catherine regularly open their home for gatherings of various kinds. They offer their guest rooms to people who need a place to stay, long or short-term. Several years ago they rebuilt their kitchen to support their hospitality. I have seen as few as one and as many as 200 family and friends in (and around) their home.
Frank holds what he has with an open hand because, in the end, he knows he doesn’t own anything. Rather, he has been entrusted with what is God’s. In other words, Frank doesn’t consider himself an owner, but a steward. Which is precisely the point of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:14-30 (cited above in part). The stewards who wisely invested the master’s money were commended because they realized they had been given a trust, and were therefore to use it to further the master’s purposes. The one who buried the talent is condemned because he did nothing. He failed to “get it into service.”
God has blessed his church with great gifts, which He intends to be used to bless others, particularly those in need. Understanding this is crucial, for to serve well in a culture where vulnerable women are encouraged to seek abortion requires us to hold our resources with an open hand: our money, because babies are expensive; our homes, because some women will need a place to live, perhaps for a significant period; our time, because some in crisis pregnancy are afraid and alone; our connections, because some will need a job to make ends meet, and others will need childcare so they can continue in school or work. In the end, this kind of service requires not only our availability, but our acceptance of the varied ways in which we may be called upon to help. To serve well will require many of us to reorient our thinking, recognizing that we are not owners, but stewards. What do we have that we might get into service?
There is another reason we need to think in this way. In asking a woman in crisis pregnancy to carry her baby to birth, we are in effect asking her to consider that her body is not her own. And that is a weighty matter. One of the cardinal arguments used by abortion-rights advocates is that a woman’s body is her own, and therefore no one should presume to tell her what to do with it. While prolifers may rightly point out that there is more than one body involved, let’s stop to acknowledge the force of the objection. A woman’s body is not separate from who she is. Her “body” does not carry her unborn child—she does. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy, a woman not only carries the baby, but supports and nurtures him—as a mother.
Prolifers are asking a woman to make herself available to the little one she carries—one now entrusted to her—for at least nine months of pregnancy, and often for a lifetime. We are asking her to see herself not as an owner—even over herself—but as a steward. If we ask her to do that, we need to be prepared to do likewise, and make ourselves available to her however we can.