Weekend Walk, 07/21/2012: Grace Gifts

My older daughters just walked out the door to swim lessons while my toddler and I are here at home.   I can hear her singing in the other room as I sit and type about this week’s verse.

My daughters and I have been talking often about finding “their thing,” their God-given gifts and talents, the set-apart uniqueness that God lovingly placed in their hearts and minds even before birth.

Is it ballet?  Is it art?  Piano, singing or some other musical instrument (my one daughter wants to play the tuba)?  Is it swimming or soccer?

Hence the swim lessons and ballet classes.  It’s why I sit next to them on the piano going over notes and fingering.  It’s why I’m still waiting to hear from one girl whether she’s signing up for ballet in the fall or holding out for spring soccer.

With one daughter, the problem isn’t what—it’s how much.  She’s artsy and crafty, a lover of stage performances.  She wants to play the piano and the flute, sing, act, get her pointe shoes in ballet, excel at school, and be an artist.

It’s my middle girl that I check in on often.  I don’t want her doing activities just because her older sister is doing them.  She needs to find her own way, her own passion and joy, and then work hard to develop skill.  She CAN do many things, but what is it that stirs her soul?

We were alone a few days ago and she announced from the back of the minivan (where it seems most of our conversations take place), “I know what I can really do, Mom. I can make people laugh.  I think I could be a magician when I grow up and tell jokes and funny stores to make people laugh during my show.”

Hmmmm.  How do you nurture a gift like that?

It’s still a process of discovery.  After all, they’re little still, and we’re searching and figuring out what treasure God has placed in them.

And this is a treasure hunt for all of us.  1 Peter tells us that we have all received a gift from God.  He didn’t skip over you when handing out presents from his spiritual gift and talent bag.

We have a responsibility, though, to use these gifts to serve others.  No hoarding them or hiding them or using them only for our own benefit or glory.  God’s goal is to unite us in service to one another.

Not only that, but we are “stewards of God’s grace.”  That means when people look around and wonder where God’s grace exists, if it exists at all, they should see it in us—in the spiritual gifts He has given us and our faithful service to use them.

That’s what your crafty, artistic flare is.  Or your creativity.  Your musical talent or your compassion.  Your generous spirit of hospitality or your athletic discipline.  Your wisdom.

The gifts God has given you are deposits of grace in a world desperately impoverished.  So, let’s meditate on this verse for the week and ask God to help us be faithful stewards of His grace, in whatever form He has given it to us.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms
(1 Peter 4:10 NIV).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Devotions From My Garden: Be An Original

 “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t”
(Romans 12:6 MSG)

I am a passionate gardener from about March to June every year.  It feels refreshing, good for the soul, full of life, and peaceful to push my trowel into the dirt in the cool morning air or in the breezy moments before twilight.

During those months, I fancy myself a real gardener as I spread the mulch over the newly weeded flower beds and stand back to survey my plot of earth.

Then it gets hot.  All my gardening ambition dies.  When I weigh weeding in the heat with working in the comfort of air conditioning, my inside work wins every time.  So, my gardens transform into jungles as weeds brazenly shove aside my mounds of mulch.  Massive spiders take up residence in undisturbed webs.

Two years ago, I had an epiphany in July when my gardens were just taking on that forlorn abandoned look.

After a quick trip to the Home Depot for a super sale, I toted home some $2 pots of ground covering.  They started small—these tiny plants of phlox and candytuft, but over time I hoped they’d cover the expanse of the garden.  And if it worked, there’d be less space for weeds. (Crosses fingers and digs into the dirt).

Yesterday, I worked in the flower beds with all my usual spring passion.  I fingered the tiny green sprouts just peeking up from the dirt and tried to remember what perennials should reappear in the next few months.

I yanked the viny weeds away from my radiant tulips with their bold colors. In these early spring months, the tulips are the stars of the garden.  They are fabulous.  They are eye-catching.  They are royal show-offs.

Next to them, though, are the bright and cheerful phlox and candytuft, the simple plants that have now quadrupled in size.  No one has ever told them they are just ground covering and I’m not spilling the secret.

Every glance around my garden testified to God’s creativity.  The beauty of this world is so vast and varied.  And I wondered—is it possible to say that this pure white candytuft, all fluffy and bright, is less beautiful than the deep purple tulip blooming next to it?

They are both unique testaments to God’s design.

So are we.

The flowers aren’t bothered by their variety or the specific beauty God’s given them.  The tulip rises high and blooms bright, giving glory to God by being a tulip—as it was designed.

The candytuft spreads across the ground with simple and sweet blossoms stirred slightly by the breeze, giving glory to God by being candytuft—as it was designed.

We, however, so often stunt our growth and destroy our own service by becoming ministry busybodies and nosy talent scouts.  “She’s better than me.  I’m better than him.  I wish I had her gifting.  I wish I could do that.  I’m great.  I’m nothing.”

It’s spiritual gift envy and it’s destructive and dangerous.  It takes something beautiful—the variety of spiritual gifts God has given—and twists it into ugliness and pettiness.  We might as well trample all over the gardens of faith God has created, stomping on the blooms of others and smashing down their leaves.  Meanwhile, others are ramming their big boots down on our own petals.

Paul wrote in Galatians, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:26 ESV).

I love this passage in The Message:

That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life (Galatians 5:26, 6:4-5, MSG).

You are an original.  So is the person next to you in Sunday School.  And the lady who cares for the babies in the nursery, rocking them to sleep.  And the guy on the stage singing.  And the artist arranging the flowers in the church windows.  And the couple who houses missionaries during their visits.  And the man who comes early to unlock doors.  And the servant who gives his time to set up the chairs for covered dish meals.

All of them original, all of them part of God’s amazing design.  We can trample all over each other, vying for personal glory, attention, and the best gifts in God’s bag of talents.

Or we can “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. ”  We can “do the creative best you can with your own life.”

We can also seek out every opportunity of pointing to the beauty of God in others.  Don’t worry if people don’t always see your own beauty.  Whether you feel like groundcover or like a tulip taking center stage in a spring garden, you’re blooming for God’s glory.

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.