By Ada Brownell
Nobody likes a cemetery—especially me. That’s why it was almost more than I could do to follow Conscience out there last night.
I stumbled along beside Conscience between humpy and sunken graves. The wind whistled through the pine trees. A coyote cried in the distance. Eerie shadows danced on the white marble headstones in the cloudy moonlight.
I knew where we were headed. It had been six months since I made the inscription on the tombstone: “Here Lie My Talents—Rest Forever.”
“You were discouraged too easily,” Conscience was saying.
“But that critique group cut my manuscript into confetti. I don’t want to submit another thing.”
Conscience laughed. “But you forgot how many good sections they pointed out. Furthermore, they thought the story idea was marvelous.”
“The world apparently doesn’t need what I have to say,” I said stubbornly. “Book shelves are stuffed with paranormal stories, fantasy and wizards. People don’t want reality. I feel like I’m a voice crying into the wind. I’m tired of rejection.”
“Don’t you remember that article on controlling anger that’s been reprinted so many times? How about the piece on faith that blessed so many? Or the testimonies you’ve written for people who experienced miracles? You did enjoy the interviews and writing those, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” I admitted. “I love to do things for the Lord. I like to feel I contribute something to praise and worship Him.
The look Conscience wore was wise and kind. “That’s why I asked you to come out here. God wants workers who will serve Him willingly and be witnesses of truth. The Lord gets little joy from those who seek men’s praise. But you will have to accept some criticism and editing.”
“But I’m tired, and afraid to listen to one more critique!”
“The servant mentioned in the parable in Matthew was afraid, too. He buried his one talent because of fear. He was called a wicked and slothful servant and was cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Stiff penalty, eh?”
I almost stumbled over a grave marker. A low cry escaped my lips as a chill climbed my spine.
Conscience took my arm. His strong arm steadied me. “Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty in giving up,” I said half under my breath.
“It’s not too late,” Conscience said confidently. “You can dig up your talents.”
“But won’t they be decayed by now?”
Conscience handed me a shovel. I walked to the grave and slowly lifted out a scoop of dirt. The more dirt I removed, the more excited I became. Finally they were all uncovered. I lifted them out.
“See,” Conscience said wisely. “Talents don’t decay; they just rust. They’ll be in fine shape after you use them a little.”
I laughed. It was good to get the feel of my talents again. Suddenly I felt strong and reckless. I picked up a big rock with my free hand and heaved it with all my strength. It hit on target. Pieces of white stone scattered over the empty grave. The letters of the inscription looked like a scrambled puzzle.
I held my talents close to me and walked away, determined to use them for the glory of God, not the praise of men.