"For it is just like a man about to go on a journey. He called his own servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent, depending on each one's ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. In the same way the man with two earned two more. But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master's money." Matthew 24:14-18The parable of talents gives us insight into the ethics of work that correspond to gifts granted by God. Each worker in the parable was granted a gift, money that did not come from their own pockets or bank accounts. The first two workers stewarded what they were given, doubling it. They held what they had been given. The last worker did nothing of the sort; what he had been given was left buried and stowed away. The parable goes on to describe the outcome of these actions. The man returns home, is pleased with the workers who held his money well and is astounded at the folly of the man who buried his lot. Like the servants in this parable, we are only in as much control over what we're given according to our stewardship; we are called to be faithful with what we're given. We cannot afford to stow it away, ignore, or abandon it. We put our hands to the plow. We work. We hold our gifts and opportunities, albeit with an open hand, knowing that what is ours is truly something we're expected to steward. We work at an incredibly small church, we come from small means, and sometimes we're working with only small faith in very difficult moments. But I wake up daily with the prayer, "God, help me to be faithful to what You've tasked me with." I try to attend to my own spiritual needs and be attentive and sensitive to the needs of those around me. I try to work hard, even when I don't feel like it. I try to grow in affection toward God, despite Him sometimes seeming so far. I try to steward my giftings, even when I want to keep them to myself. I try to be faithful. I try my best to hold things with an open hand. But I still must hold them. I have to acknowledge that God is the One who is sovereignly in control of outcomes, and I am merely called to be as faithful as I can. I oftentimes falter, but when I succeed it is nothing short of God attending to the things in my open palm, grasping and guiding the things around which I'm tempted to clench my own fingers. We often view the relinquishing of control, the holding of circumstances with an open hand, as an upheaval of work. Not only do we relinquish control, but we relinquish activity, halting all semblance of stewarding the things to which we've been called by God to attend to. I've fallen into this many times. However, control is not work's equivalent, and though we must let go of our insatiable need to be in control of our lives, we still must hold our lives. We don't clench our fist around our trials, but we cradle them. We don't grip tightly to this life, but we steward it. We don't have control, but we are faithful to attend to what God has appointed and thoughtfully placed in our hands. We hold with an open hand, but we still hold. Something lovely happens when we defer to God's control rather than our own–we are allowed to look back at our lives with perfect vision, knowing that the Lord caused. He caused the success, He caused provision through the unsuccess. He carried, bore, strengthened, provided, and nourished. God did it. It was never in our control to begin with. Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.