Don’t bury your talents
At a place where most students have some sort of faith in God, it would not be difficult for someone to ride out their four years at Calvin without accepting any challenges to their faith.
Coming from a public school, I had to defend my faith and beliefs daily in the face of numerous challenges. The only solace for me in high school, after a long day of debating Bible verses with my teachers, was the short bus ride home and the Bible study time my family had every night before bed.
Coming to Calvin, I expected many things: rest, peace of mind and, most of all, comfort. “Finally,” I thought, “I will no longer have to argue about God and Jesus and the Bible; I’m going to a place where everyone will understand me and my beliefs.” Fortunately, I had no idea that Calvin College was not that kind of place at all.
Those of us who are familiar with Matthew may recall the famous parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In this parable, Jesus related the story of a master who had entrusted his servants with his wealth. To one servant, the master gave five bags of talents, to the second two bags and to the third, one bag.
The first two servants went and immediately invested the master’s talents and doubled their money, while the third servant, with only one bag of talents, went and hid the money in the ground.
Upon his return, the master was delighted with the first two servants and furious with the third, even though the third servant had diligently and earnestly kept his master’s money.
Why was the master furious with the third servant, even though he had kept his master’s money in pristine condition? My religion professor gave me the answer, saying that, in the context of the parable, the bags of talents were the servants’ faith.
While the first two servants fully utilized their faith and prospered, the third servant maintained the status quo, burying his faith in pristine condition.
I do not want to bury my faith.
When each of us came to Calvin, each of us carried our own bags of talents left to us by parents, grandparents, mentors, friends, etc. Those of us seeking comfort, to maintain the status quo, have buried our talents.
I know that in my first year I put my one bag in the ground and called it good. My life, my faith, was supposed to stay the same from the first chapel I attended to the day that I was buried next to my bag of talents.
Calvin College, however, thought differently. During the course of my first year, I found myself repeatedly digging my bag up, spending some talents and, just as I got ready to lower it back into the hole, I would open it one more time and use it again.
The classes here, the people here, simply would not allow me to rest in that shallow grave next to my faith. I sought the status quo and instead found a world where I could look into the sky and ask, aloud, if there was a God; if Hindus, Muslims or Christians, or all three, could go to heaven; if there even is a heaven.
I do not have answers for those, but I thank God every night for that uncertainty because every time I invest my faith and discover more about myself and the world, I can feel my bag get a little fuller — I can feel my faith growing.
We can invest or preserve our talents; I strongly discourage people at Calvin, and in general, from choosing the latter.