Gifts. We all have gifts. We all have God-given abilities. We all have hopes, desires, dreams. We all want to do something or to become something. We all want to do something that we love, something that makes our hearts leap with joy, something that brings us satisfaction and peace. Right?
I have been thinking a lot about what gifts God has given me, about what abilities I have. Now, I want to preface what I say with stating that I believe God can do anything through even the most unlikely vessel. He enables and equips even when it makes no sense to our carnal minds. I can attest to this in so many ways in my own life. "God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful." (1 Thessalonians 5:24) If God says to do it, He will make it possible for you to do it, whatever "it" may be.
But, God also distributes gifts to us. He loves us so much that He has gifted every person in unique and individual ways that His Kingdom might be furthered, that more may know His name. And, there is no greater joy than to know the Creator of the universe, the Lover of souls. While I do think the primary reason that God has gifted us is for His glory, I also think it is because He loves us, because He desires good things for us, because He has abundant life planned for us, because He wants joy to overflow in our hearts. As I seek to develop the gifts God has placed inside of me, I find so much joy, so much peace. I have spent a lot of time over the past several weeks and months meditating on what gifts God has given me, trying to sift through the desires of my flesh and the desires of my spirit, which desperately wants to honor my Father. And, over the course of the last several weeks, I have had several dreams and gifts re-awakened in my life. Many times it has come in unexpected ways--conversing with a friend, coming out on the other side of difficult trial, sitting in silence with the Lord, reading Truth, seizing opportunities. When I sit back and observe what has taken place, I am awestruck. I am simply amazed at how God has worked everything in me together for His good. His gifts are good.
"You fathers--if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Of if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him." Luke 11: 11-13
God understands what it means to give good gifts to His children.
So, God's gifts are good. But, there is this part of me that has been wondering if it is wrong or selfish or silly of me to focus my energy on only pursuing the use of those gifts that bring me joy and satisfaction. As a follower of Jesus, shouldn't I be willing to do anything? Shouldn't I be willing to joyfully clean toilets every day of my life, knowing that I am working as to the Lord and not as to men? Shouldn't I be willing to step up and "do what needs to be done" because there doesn't seem to be anyone else doing it? Shouldn't I just humble myself a little more and ignore that this isn't what I thought I signed up for? It is all part of dying to yourself, right? It is all part of taking up that cross daily, right?
Or, is it?
The flip side? Does God enable me to do things well that He has not called me to do? I mean, I know that I can fumble my way through things. Given some time and direction, I can figure most things out, and I might even be able to do something competently. (This would be where my determined spirit comes in handy.) But, simply because I can do something competently, that does not mean it is what I want to do or would choose to do or is what I should be doing. And, as I have been thinking through all of these things, weighing out (and repenting for) my own selfishness, desiring to please my God first and foremost, making choices that have not been popular, I have come back to this.
"Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, 'I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,' that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, 'I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,' would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where He wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, 'I don't need you.' The head can't say to the feet, 'I don't need you.'...If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad." 1 Corinthians 12: 14-21, 26
Selah. Pause. Calmly think of that.
If God has distributed us as the parts of His body, if He has put each part where He wants it, if He has deemed all parts necessary, why are we striving to "serve" in positions He never intended for us to be in? A foot will never be sufficient as a hand. Sure, you might be able to adapt and learn to do some things that a hand can do. Maybe you learn to pick quarters up with your toes. Maybe you can learn to press the volume controls on the television. But, you will never be a hand. It will never be natural to do things a hand does...because you were never supposed to. And, so long as you are striving to figure out how to do what the hand is supposed to do, you are not able to do the job of the foot that you have been appointed to do, gifted to do, enabled to do. Additionally, the hand is not able to do what it has been gifted to do...because your striving, your desire for control, your selfishness has crowded out and silenced the hand's gift to the body. It is not wrong to choose to operate in the gifts God has given to us. It is best. There is nothing wrong with joyfully scrubbing toilets. There is nothing wrong with sitting in a cubicle analyzing endless data. There is nothing wrong with teaching children to read and write. There is nothing wrong with planting and harvesting rice and corn and wheat. There is nothing wrong with offering listening ears to those in distress. There is nothing wrong because it is right, it is true, it is what God intended...
Father, forgive us for our striving that has not honored the gifts You have given us, and forgive us for all the ways we have disabled our other parts...