Within each of us are God-given gifts and talents, as diverse as the gifts under a Christmas tree. Can you imagine the impact on the world if each of us decided, today, and throughout 2009, to unwrap our natural abilities and begin to take every opportunity to use what we’ve been given? All too often our gifts and skills remain boxed up, because we feel insecure or incapable of allowing our personal and distinctive strengths, shape, size or color to be seen by others, ignoring the purpose and impact of utilizing our gifts.
We can and should use our gifts and fulfill our passions, but we must first recognize them—then we must be willing to unwrap them, and take a risk to let them be seen by others! I challenge you to make that your New Year’s resolution.
What do our gifts look like? The answer—individually unique! For some, their giftedness can’t be missed. They resemble a flamboyant gift box, wrapped in red foil with a perfectly matched bow—naturally attracting people. Yet, right next to the striking, charismatic red box is the exact opposite —a tiny white jewelry-sized box, plain, without fancy wrap or a bow. Like each of us, the small box is as unique and valuable as the other. It simply takes more effort to see all that is inside—another velvet box, holding a precious jewel. Often this “gifting” may not be as easily seen and utilized. Too often it waits quietly, perhaps never allowing its’ beauty to be found and enjoyed. But with encouraging hands and hearts, it is carefully opened, blessing those who can finally feel and experience it. Underneath both of the other boxes is yet another, which represents many people. It’s a flat, squashed, and misshapen. Its’ corners are crunched, and the once blue-flowered gift wrap is faded and torn. The tape is undone and yellow, and for the most part, prefers to go unnoticed, safely hidden from sight. Even though the gifting inside has retained its’ original value, it sits unused, feeling unworthy and in ruin. Tattered and torn, it will remain so until God’s grace and forgiveness rips away the disheveled wrap disclosing the value that is within. Whatever the shape, size, or purpose of our gifts, they are vivid evidence of a loving, living and purposeful God.
You may relate to any one of these “gift” boxes, or may have conjured up how your own personality and gifts would look like, in the form of a gift box, but another factor can interfere with cracking them open—busy, hectic days! Even the bold and confident talents can be shut away in a dark box if busy days keep gifts from being used. Sadly, the outcome may be dissatisfaction, bitterness or resentment if our innate gifts are not used. God put talents and passions within us for a purpose, and we are responsible to find them, dust them off, and make a conscious choice to use them.
I can almost hear you, “But I don’t have any special gifts or skills.” Or you are saying, “I don’t have time, or who am I to do that?” My only answer is to listen to the gentle nudges of God—start small and take one step at a time. Seek a mentor, take a class, ask to assist someone who is doing what you yearn to do.
God’s Word tells us that everyone has a gifts, (stored within), and a season in which they will be further developed. We can respond by nourishing them, even when we’re unable to commit to regularly using them. Then when the time is right, you’ll be prepared and ready.
For example, I couldn’t write full time when I had young children, but I could journal, read books about writing, and take an occasional writing class. When I was working full time, I couldn’t be away speaking, but I taught as a volunteer, joined speaking groups, read about the publishing industry, while occasionally submitting a short-story or article. All the time, building my skills and preparing for stepping out to use my gifts in the season I’m in today. I’ve learned, it is possible to have a dream and live life!
Try it! See what will happen when you have the courage to unwrap and crack open the lid of your gifts. Opening them makes you feel as if warm rays of sunshine pour out—they burst forth, breaking through to places you could not physically or spiritually begin to imagine for yourself. Though it may challenge and stretch you, joy radiates from deep within, because you feel you’re exactly where you’re meant to be, doing what you’re gifts prepare you to do. You’ll find when you are applying your God-given abilities, even though it may be very hard, it never feels forced. Instead it is comfortable and motivating, bringing inner contentment, peace and joy.
Join me; commit to cracking open your gift box. Don’t wait for just the right time—or most of all, to feel you are worthy—just begin!
We each have to ask for God’s help, just as David did in Psalm 86:16. “Turn to me, and be gracious to me; oh grant your strength to your servant.”
God guides and equips as you bravely step out, praying to find and use your hidden treasures. Sometimes you may be on bended knees, in dim light, searching for special gifts, not yet recognized. You’re not alone—God is with you, as He is with those who walked before you. It may take some time, and you will likely have to move around some other things to reach your gift box. But once it’s found, dust it off, and courageously open it. Show and tell others whom you can trust—then enjoy the journey.
Peter, who was bold, with bright red wrap, spoke to both you and me in 1 Peter 4:10. “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
With God alongside, you can feel content to take small steps—and learn to be patient, yet disciplined and persistent towards utilizing your precious gifts. As He lends a gracious hand, and with your gift box unwrapped, 2009 is bound to hold opportunity and adventure not yet experienced.
Happy New Year!
Judy Dippel www.judydippel.com
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Refreshing Hope in God
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