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“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave give bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability, Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”

Matthew 25:13-18

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Matthew 5:14

I watched bits and pieces of the presidential inauguration the other day and regardless of who you voted for, you can’t help but admit it was a pretty cool event to see. For me, the most special moments were the inauguration of the FIRST African-American/ Asian American woman vice president, Kamala Harris, the FIRST working First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, the FIRST millennial inauguration poet, Amanda Gorman, and the FIRST inauguration firework show (to my knowledge). It was an event of firsts. After an overwhelming and stressful election, I believe that we can all agree that we’re glad it’s finally over! The fireworks that concluded the inauguration were the most special to me. I believe that fireworks are a beautiful symbol of what happens when you store greatness and then finally let it explode.

I love Katy Perry’s song ‘Firework’ and I’m posting some of the lyrics below if you’ve never heard the song:

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from cavin’ in?
Do you ever feel already buried deep?
Six feet under screams, but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you?
‘Cause there’s a spark in you

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July’

Cause baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, “Oh, oh, oh”
As you shoot across the sky
Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ’em go, “Oh, oh, oh”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awe

It’s so powerful and emotional for me because I believe we have all felt that way: like a plastic bag in the wind that is overlooked, like an unstable stack of cards, like you’re already six-feet under the earth, dead, and no one can hear your cries — we have all felt pointless, worthless, and hidden. I know for me the hardest questions to answer are the ones about myself. Whether for interviews or university admission, I always struggle with: “Tell me about yourself. What are some of your talents?” Most people find this crazy because they see me as being great at so many things. I’m a writer, a teacher, a researcher, an artist, a musician, an awesome gift-giver, and I’m pretty funny. Seems simple enough, right? But I kid you not, I’m terrible at describing myself. It took nearly two months to write a 500 word personal statement for graduate school because I didn’t know what to tell the admission board.

What I’ve come to discover is that no one is talentless. God created everything with purpose for purpose from the birds soaring in the sky to the earth that treads beneath our feet. All with its own unique design. In the parable of the talents, Jesus tells his disciples about the end of days on earth. He basically says, “Hey, even I don’t know when the last day will be, but I do know that there is much work to be done.” Talents were a form of currency in Hebraic society. Like a businessman gives his workers talents for a day’s work, God gives us talents for our life’s work. Inside of each of us lies a talent — a firework, if you will. In the parable, each servant was given something special. It wasn’t about comparison, it was about completion.

We live in a superficial society where we can see the “talents” of many at the stroke of a finger but we all need to remember that it’s not about how many “talents” they have, it’s about the “talents” that we have and are actively using. It’s about our purpose and what we can produce so that, like Katy Perry said, when others see they will be in awe. Not in awe of you but in awe of your God! I love when something great happens in my life because I can use it as any opportunity to show others how good God is and that if He can do it for me, He can do it for anybody.

Like the song says, you have to IGNITE THE LIGHT and LET IT SHINE. Sometimes we’re only doing one but not the other. The servant that received one talent, or bag of gold, he knew what he had and didn’t utilize it. Perhaps he didn’t know how and maybe he should have asked the others; I’m not sure. But when you have greatness inside of you, don’t just wonder what it could be; figure out what it is! What is it worth to you? What is the value of this gift in the world? You have your whole life to discover but don’t waste another moment. IGNITE THE LIGHT and you will see what comes next. Lastly, when you start something great, LET IT SHINE. Don’t fear the unknown or the explosion, let it produce itself in your life. Don’t snub the flames of your light. God doesn’t just call you to something great but He says that you ARE something great. He calls you and me the light of this world! Don’t dim for others, shine on. Because when the world sees how bright you are, when they pay attention to your value, they will see greatness of your God .

Don’t waste another moment burying yourself, it’s time to shine.

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