“Oh, how I wish I could write like her,” I whispered to the Lord as I turned out the light. “My journals are full of the same stuff. Why can’t I write so people will read it?”
I had just read a few choice lines from Ann VosKamp’s new book The Broken Way to my husband, explaining that every sentence is so insightful I must stop and process it before I can move on. He had agreed.
As I settled down under the bedcovers, the Holy Spirit spoke one of those profound things to my heart:
“Not many people read books, but everyone reads lives. It’s not that I need more people writing the message—I need more people living the message.”
Ouch! My toes felt the divine crush.
I awoke early the next morning, and the dialog with the Holy continued.
“This is what many of My children do with the gifts I give to them—be it writing, singing, teaching, preaching, serving—you name it. They focus on the gift rather than the Giver.”
Guilty as charged. It was true. I had made the gift (or talent) God had given me about me. I had attempted to enhance my gift, develop it, grow it, market it, and if the opportunity had arisen, I’m sure I would have sold it. The Giver pushed aside to make room for the gift.
He directed me to the Mount of Transfiguration story.1 There it was in plain sight how Peter immediately switched to the “it’s about me mode.” Jesus had been transformed right before his eyes, and Moses and Elijah showed up to boot—a marvelous display of God’s power and glory. Yet, the event soon became about Peter—where he was, how he felt, and what he could do to make this moment better.
Here is Matthew’s telling of what happened: “Then Peter began to speak and said to Jesus: Lord, it is good and delightful that we are here; if you approve, I will put up three booths, one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
How do you improve on that display of majestic mystery? That brush with the Eternal?
God gives gifts to His children for the purpose of drawing us closer to Himself, just as He did Peter. He wants us to see His magnificent glory and power so we can tell others about Him. He desires an intimate relationship with us, where we continually communion with Him, depending on Him to enable and anoint our gift for His purpose—reaching the world with His message.
Yet, like Peter, we soon make it about us. Our excitement takes over and ideas flood our mind about how we can make it g-r-e-a-t! Forget waiting on the Holy Spirit to direct our gift toward God’s purpose. The way we see it: God gave it, but we can take it from here.
How often do we offend the Holy Spirit by adding our humanness to a divine gift? Jesus said: “…the Son can do nothing by himself.”2 So how is it we think we can?
Making the gift our focus interferes with our intimacy with the Giver. Rather than seeing His glory, His power, His offer to operate through us, we envision all we can do for God with this gift. Instead of drawing us closer to Him, it pulls us away from Him. Our time and energy goes toward working the gift. Even prayer time centers on planning for the use of our gift. Intimacy is out the window; so is faith and trust.
I wonder if God ever wishes He hadn’t given us that gift in the first place.
Have you been thinking lately that your gift isn’t working like it used to? Are the results not what you’d hoped for? Has the freshness and anointing slipped away? Is it more a job than a joy? Perhaps you have even begun to doubt your gift?
Maybe we should ask ourselves this question: “How’s my intimacy with God?” If the answer is cold, lacking, or non-existent, then we shouldn’t expect our gift to work either.
So what can we do? Can we have overs? Perhaps.
Can we make our gift about the Giver and not about us? Maybe.
Can we allow it to draw us closer to Him rather than draw us away from Him? Not sure.
Can we let our intimacy with Him override our desire to do our own thing? I don’t know.
Is God a giver of second changes—and third—and fourth—and fifth? Definitely!
I don’t know about you, but I am asking for overs. As this New Year floods in, I see a fresh opportunity to handle my God-given gift differently.
Let’s brace ourselves, breath in some grace, and begin again. Isn’t that what a New Year is all about? Like the beginning of a new day!
Dear Jesus, I bring this gift back to you. Please forgive me for what I’ve made it. Sanctify it anew, burn out the dross, remove the humanness I’ve added, and purity it for your purpose. May it be used for your glory in 2017, not mine. ~ Janie Kellogg
1Matthew 17:1-8 (AMP) 2John 10:19 (NIV)