Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Take your gift seriously

Over the past few days I have had a lot of quiet time.  My husband working double shifts.  And the kids were either at work, school or both. And the Martha in me got busy in the "kitchen". I did a few chores, browsed the internet for unimportant facts and findings.

Today I  arrived home from work and once again I had the evening all to myself.  I was feeling a little "under the weather" and tired so I decided to get in my comfy pj's and listen to one of my pastors on podcast.  I love technology!  I was so blessed by the sermon.  It encouraged me to reflect on Romans 12:8.  And I spent some time praying about my God given gifts.  Am I an encourager, a giver, a leader, or is my gift in showing kindness and mercy?  In which area am I strongest?  And in which area do I need guidance? 

Often we neglect to utilize these gifts.  We are paralyzed by the overwhelming expectations of others. And tend to hide and neglect those precious gifts .  I am guilty as charged. The brat that dwells within can be my greatest form of paralysis. My Dad use to say it was paralysis by analysis.  I tend to over think and sometimes that over-thinking brings bitterness a.k.a "Stinkin thinkin".

A few years ago I had a situation with a person in my life.  I wanted so desperately to embrace and love this person.  I reached out many time only to get my hand zapped.  It hurt.  But, I couldn't help myself.  I continued to extend the olive branch.  Hoping and praying that one day, while the olive branch was extended, this person would grab hold of a leaf.  Or perhaps pluck a piece of the fruit. I wasn't sure if God wanted me to understand my gift of persistence or insanity.  How could this individual not want to accept this invitation to be a part of my family/friend circle?  Looking back on it I see clearly that my persistence may have contributed to her reluctance.  Maybe I came off a bit in-genuine which was truly not my intention.  And in the process my heart didn't feel all that joyful.  I remember sitting with my husband one evening and talking to him about the situation at hand.  He listened and of course sided with me.  As any wise husband should.  He told me that I just needed to accept the fact that not everyone in the world is going to like me.  What?!?!?!  Ouch. He recommended that I stop putting my hand out.  I took his advice for a few months.  And in the process my "gifts" became not so gift like.  I found myself becoming bitter.  And "stinkin thinkin" consumed me.  I exchanged gifts for garbage.  I threw down the branch and dug a pit of quicksand between myself and this person.  No way was I going to risk sinking for an unwanted friendship.  Well, during that time of picking through garbage I said and did some not so kind things.  One night, while praying for this person, I felt a bit convicted.  As I should have.  I prayed every night that God would change her heart.  And I realized, during that moment in prayer, that it was my heart that needed to be changed.  I lost sight of my gifts. The Lord was very clear."So in everything, do to other what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law of the Prophets." So, I have to still be kind when kindness isn't given. Loving when not loved. Be generous when taken for granted.  And lead even if I get thrown under the bus

Whatever the gift that God has given me, or you for that matter, needs to be taken seriously.  If you are great at encouraging others, than you must encourage and uplift.  If you find that giving is your greatest gift, than you need to give generously.  If God has given you a heart to be a leader, take that responsibility seriously and pray for wisdom.  And if kindness is your forte, than do it with a joyful heart.

Yes, I extended the olive branch multiple time after that night.  And I am bless to say that God is faithful. He restored my heart and healed my hand each time it was rejected.  And in the process it was by His grace alone that a not so friendlyship turned into a blessing.  I think we both came to the pit waiving our white flags.  I pulled the plank out of my eye, laid it over the pit of quicksand, crossed over and began building a beautiful friendship with this beautiful woman. Praise God