At the age of 9, John O'Leary suffered a horrific accident that resulted in burns over 100% of his body. 87% of these burns were 3rd degree burns - the worst kind. These are deep tissue burns, normally requiring skin grafting which can only come from the victim himself.
When John's mother rushed to his side at the hospital, the first thing she said to her frightened child was "I love you. I love you." Realizing how dire his situation was, she did not mince words. She spoke to him candidly "Do you want to die? Your choice, not mine."
"Momma, I don't want to die."
"Then you fight, like you've not fought before."
John fought. His injuries resulted in five months of treatment in the hospital. He fought. Over the next several months John sustained multiple surgeries, including amputations to all of his fingers.
Today John O'Leary is the best selling author of "On Fire", not only his story, but practical advice for all of us and the choices we can make to "ignite a radically inspired life". John is a married father of four and a motivational speaker who addresses 50,000 people a year. The little boy who was expected to die is now telling others how to live.
Talents comes from the Greek word talanta literally meaning weights. The talent was valued according to the kind of metal of which it consisted, most commonly silver. The servant who was given one talent likely had a small bag of silver coins. He got so caught up in comparing what he was given relative to the other servants who received more, that he hid his talent in the ground and simply returned it to his master upon his return. Jesus makes it clear that this is not what is expected of us. Take what you are given, be grateful, and build off of that.
When I think about the Parable of the Talents, I always think about people like my grandparents who came to this country from Nazi-controlled work camps with literally nothing. I think about people like John O'Leary. You could say that these people weren't even given a full talent. Just one coin.
Yet they took that coin, gave thanks to God for what they've been given, and invested it - again giving thanks to God for any dividends yielded from the effort. We've all been burned by something or other in life. Whether that be a health issue, divorce or other relationship strife, job loss or other financial setback. Take what you are given, be grateful, and build off of that.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to reflect on Your Word and the example of Jesus Christ. We pray that we may become daily disciples of His teachings and invest our talents into fulfillment. We pray that we may become living examples of Your unconditional love to ignite radically inspired lives. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Written by Rich Krygiel. Rich leads one of our men's ministry groups at Arcola Church. He is a devoted husband to Mary and father to Ella and Zack.