Well, even though ’tis the Season, I’m not talking about those kinds of gifts. On Sunday I attended the funeral of a dear soul, taken too soon from us at the age of 46 by a brain tumor. The service was attended by hundreds, and testimony to her bright and generous spirit abounded. She loved deeply, and was deeply loved.
I went to the service expecting to come away comforted, inspired, hopeful. Instead I came home feeling dejected, inadequate, and hopeless. I want so much to be more like her, to help others, to touch lives. But I wasn’t feeling up to the task, wasn’t feeling like I had it in me, wasn’t feeling like I was born with the right tools.
As I was writing in my journal about these feelings, this Bible passage came to mind:
God hands out various kinds of gifts, but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere, but they all originate in God’s Spirit. Works done in the name of God are in action everywhere, but God is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is. Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits! All kinds of gifts are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people. He distributes them to each one, as He sees fit. The variety is wonderful: wisdom and wise counsel; knowledge and clear understanding; faith and simple trust; gifts of healing; miraculous powers; prophecy; distinguishing between spirits. To one, the ability to speak in tongues; to another, the ability to interpret tongues.
All of these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when. [This is particularly hopeful to me... We are not necessarily born with all of our gifts. He may give us more later, at the appropriate time!]
You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts – limbs, organs, cells – but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. So it is with Christ. We are all baptized by one Spirit, so that no matter what other labels we once used to identify ourselves – labels like Jew or Gentile, slave or free – we leave our old, partial and piecemeal lives behind and become integrated, a part of Jesus’ resurrected body.
This makes you more significant, not less! A body is not any one large part. It’s all the different-but-similar parts, arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” it would not for that reason stop being a part of the body. If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where He wanted it. ~ 1 Corinthians 12: 4-18 [My own mash-up of The Message and the NIV versions]
It was the reminder I needed, the reminder that I don’t have to be (and am not expected to be) just like anyone but myself. How many of us truly use the gifts that we have, right where we are, to help others? Jana did. And that’s how all of us can be more like her. Figure out what gifts we’ve been given, and how to use them to help others in some way.
So tell me… what are your gifts, and in what ways have you been inspired to use them?
1 year ago: