I used the think God wanted me to work for Him, now I know He just wants me to know Him.
In the Gospel of Matthew, there is a story about servants and their master. The master has to travel, so he leaves each servant with money meant to be invested and multiplied. Two of the servants invest the money and return to their master with more than what they started with. They grew what was given to them. But the last servant buried the money he was given. When the master came to him, the servant confessed, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your money in the ground” (Matthew 25:25).
This story used to give me chills because it doesn’t end well for the fearful servant. But that’s exactly what he is, right? Afraid. He buried what was meant to be multiplied because he was afraid of the master. Does that sound familiar? Often, I stunt my own growth and welcome paralysis because I forget who God is. It’s easy to get caught up in lies about God’s character and bury what was designed to be alive.
In the story, the master is overjoyed at the servants who had enough guts to invest in what was given to them. He welcomes them into his joy. He says, “well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over little, I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21) What a ride! In this joyful moment, I see a master who didn’t have very high expectations, but simply wanted to see his servants take a risk. I see a master who was on the edge of his chair waiting to bestow a reward higher than what was truly earned. I see a master yearning to invite his people into his joy. I’m willing to bet those servants knew these things to be true of the master. They were confident in who they knew the master to be, so they didn’t have to act in fear. They got it. They were committed to knowing their master, so it was easy for them to walk in obedience to him; and, it was even easier for them to walk into his reward! But here’s the kicker. The master didn’t reward them solely for what they had done. He rewarded them because what they did was fueled by what they believed. His joy didn’t come from the servants’ obedience, but from the reason for their obedience.
God is always more interested in us knowing him than us working for Him.
The fearful servant chose burial because of what he believed about the master; he believed the master was harsh and unfair; so he didn’t trust him. I do that with God, too. I forget that I’m partnering with a God who has a track record full of joy, whimsy, and goodness. I sink into the lie that He’s angry or disappointed in me. But I’m realizing now that all that produces is death. When I believe lies about who God is, the gifts He’s given me don’t get any air. Suffocation is inevitable, and the joy I was meant to partake in gets stifled.
Papa God wants us to know Him. That’s what this story is about. I think the fearful servant lived out of misunderstandings and bad rumors. It’s easy to do that. Maybe that’s why Jesus always emphasizes the importance of knowing His Dad. He takes relationship seriously, and the way He knows you, He also wants you to know Him. What an invitation! Instead of withholding, God is leaning in, inviting you to catch wind of who He really is. He’s trusting you and giving you an opportunity to trust Him!
If we learn anything from this story, it’s that the true character of God is a joyful one. He’s poised and waiting to reward us and welcome us into Him. Trusting God is sometimes terrifying. It might even feel safer to just bury our trust and go through life numb. But God’s an adventurer and a risk-taker! He’s on the edge of His seat beckoning us to invest that trust back into Him; to gamble on Him and reap the abundant reward. God isn’t asking you to be something you’re not. He’s not asking you to perform impossible tasks or live on a tightrope of expectation. What He is doing is inviting you to trust that He’ll take care of you. He’s given you the grace necessary to move deeper into His love story and you get to choose whether or not you jump in.