The Invisible Parable

The small band of Jesus followers sat weary and discouraged. The old woman came upon them and asked the source of their long faces.

“Our task is large, our numbers are small, and our faith feels small, though once it was great.”

The old woman looked on them with love and asked, “And what does it tell you in the Book about accomplishing this great task?”

Their Book was well-worn for they knew it well and loved the Author. Their response came quickly and was true. “It says our Lord has given us everything we need and yet . . . here we are.”

“Yes,” the old woman nodded, “I have known this kind of weariness.” She glanced around the room. “I notice in every corner and especially along the back wall, you have many unopened gifts. Tell me about these.”

“Those?” they replied, with looks that indicated they’d stopped seeing those gifts long ago, “There are many reasons we’ve left them where they are. It’s complicated, you see.”

“Make it simple for me,” the old woman said as she walked to one pile and pointed. “What about these?”

Just look at the ancient wrapping on those gifts! They have been unused for so long! Surely there can’t be anything there of use in modern times or that might appeal to this generation! We would never toss them out, of course. We cherish them. But surely there’s nothing there to help us in our great task!” They looked at one another with confidence in their response.

“I see. Well, what about this other pile. This wrapping isn’t ancient. Why are these untouched?”

They continued to respond with confidence in their thinking. “Oh, those gifts are waiting for their mates to arrive. Granted, some have been waiting a very long time, but we aren’t sure how to use them without them being in pairs. As soon as mates arrive, we’ll explore their gifts and put them immediately to use!”

“And these beside them? They appear to be rewrapped.”

“Yes, those are gifts that had mates at one time but lost them. So, they’ve been set aside until a new mate can be found or the old mate returns.”

The old woman closed her eyes for a moment before asking about the last two piles. “What of these and these?”

See that big pile is full of gifts that are of such odd shapes and sizes, we can’t imagine how to employ them in the task. They don’t fit any ways we currently work. Some are too big for us to manage, others too small, and others just escape our understanding all together. And that last pile? Well, those seem perfectly fine. They’ve just been sitting there so quietly, apparently, we’ve forgotten they were there. Maybe they don’t want to be put to use. The gifts that arrive well-shaped, in the proper groupings, that announce themselves clearly are all employed in the task.

The old woman closed her eyes, inhaled deeply, exhaled slowly, and waited in the silence that followed.

One of the Jesus followers rose and picked up one of the gifts leaning against the back wall. “Is it possible that we do have everything we need but we haven’t been seeing it? But why would some of what we need be invisible?”

The old woman smiled and opened the Book. “‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ 2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV Is not our God an invisible God? Have we not been created from that which was invisible? Can you imagine, then, that He would employ both the seen and the unseen in this great task?

And as she spoke, their eyes opened to the great number of gifts in their midst. And their hearts awakened to the great possibilities that before had been unseen. And the wrapping fell away from most gifts which revealed their obvious value, though a few others remained partially hidden.

“What of those?” they asked the old woman, “Why do some remain almost invisible?”

“Ahh,” she laughed before she replied, “Certainly an invisible God has determined that some work would be done by those who remain invisible. Has He not, even now, expanded your faith to believe in the work they contribute even though it remains unseen?” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

“Yes!” they shouted as they joined her laughter. In fact, the room filled with the laughter of those who once had been weary and those who once had been invisible. And then, there was a great silence as they prayed together and then a burst of chatter as they discussed the great task.

And the old woman smiled as she watched the impossible – faith that cannot be seen expand and deepen before her very eyes.

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    The Conversation

  1. Carla says:

    Amen! I pray that God will use me and let my church “see” me. That is the message I received from this. I hope that I can also see what God has in front of me that might be unseen as well.Thanks for your encouragement.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well said, Lori. True about the church AND its people sometimes.

  3. Barb Welch says:

    Amen!! It only takes a spark to get a fire going. Where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in their midst. They only need to praise and worship Him and seek how God wants them to be His hands and feet. That’s the spark that moves His children into action. He is sufficient for all our needs as we seek first His kingdom. GO YE THEREFORE!!!

  4. Sherry Carter says:

    This is a great parable. I look around and I can see many unopened gifts, yet I doubt whether I have the tools I need to follow God. I wonder if He has already provided what I need and I’m letting it sit, unopened. Thanks for opening my eyes.

  5. Lori Hatcher says:

    Thank you for this, friend. May many who look with unopened eyes receive the gift of sight.