Jennie’s right. This is hard.
I’ve avoided writing about this week’s Restless study lesson for three days.
They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud. — John Flavel
I don’t want to talk about gifts.
Because, the thing is, I know myself fairly well. And, honey, it isn’t pretty. My focus for the last several years has been to grow in my relationship with Jesus and to ask God dig into my heart and heal brokenness as the Holy Spirit has convicted me over and over again of the things that needed to change. Repenting my way through journals and journals. Asking Him to reveal Himself to me, to gift me with a greater longing and in loveness for Him, and to plant in me a convictable heart. Asking the Holy Spirit to shine the light on all the places where I hide, or lie, or try to camouflage with a fig leaf and a winning smile. Seeking friendships with women who depend upon the Word and who press into deepening relationships with God. Asking those trusted ones to speak into my life and going hard after being changed by grace. Asking Him to burn away whatever is dead and useless. Asking the Lord to redeem my brokenness and use every bit of it for His glory. It’s been a season of seeking God and repenting, and seeking God more and repenting more.
So, gifts have gone by the wayside. Ignored. They’ve gotten dusty to the point that they feel sort of… pathetic, weak, and fruitless. Like they were last used a lifetime ago. That’s embarrassing.
I think I’m afraid to talk about gifts partly because not only have I not been very fruitful for several years, but also because at some point I stopped believing I had any left to offer. It also has to do with the fear of appearing arrogant as Jennie and I discussed on our Author Live-Chat, and partly because of plain old fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of not being wanted, fear of inability or inadequacy, fear of failure, fear of the mocking voices that would say, You can’t do that! Who do you think you are? You don’t belong!And I’ve feared opposition, making a fool of myself, disappointing God and disappointing others.
I don’t know what your fears are, but I know if they aren’t from God they are from the enemy, and they need to be taken apart. — Jennie Allen
It helps me so much that at the beginning of the story of young Joseph (Genesis 37:1-11), we meet him as a spoiled brat tattle-tale! He’s the puffed up braggart bringing Dad (Jacob, the manipulative “tripper” or “deceiver” who wrestled with God in Genesis 32 and whom God renamed Israel) bad reports of his half-brothers… but, whom God uses anyway! That is good news, friends! The Bible is filled with stories of sinful, flawed, broken, normal people that the Lord radically and beautifully transforms for His purposes.
(Next week we’re going to talk about what God did in Joseph’s life in order to transform him, prepare him, and position him and let me just say ahead of time that it’s also good news, but it won’t feel like it because it involves suffering and loss, mistreatment and pain.)
Some of Joseph’s issues stem from Jacob/Israel, that’s true. He was loved more than any of his half-brothers. He was treated better than them. He got better gifts. (Which reminds us parents: favoritism doesn’t do kids any favors!) It was pretty much a given that his brothers would hate him. Why wouldn’t they?
But, not all of it was Daddy’s fault. Joseph made matters worse for sure. Totally aside from the human mess, though, Joseph was ordained with the supernatural gift of dreaming spiritual dreams and being able to interpret them. That part was ALL GOD!
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul teaches about spiritual gifts and that we, the Church, are to operate in unity since we are one Body. We are to celebrate one another’s gifts! We are to deeply value and honor one another. We are to use our gifts for the benefit of everyone else. They’re not meant to beat others up with, or to feel proud or ashamed about, or like we are above or below others in significance.
Our gifts’ primary purpose is for building up others. — Jennie Allen
I love how Jennie points out that right after Paul teaches about gifts and the unity of the Body of Christ, he goes straight into teaching about love. That without love we are just noise, noise, and more noise. We are nothing. And, we gain nothing.
And, yet I still struggled through this week’s lesson. If something could possibly distract me, it did. Out of frustration, this was my Facebook status:
Why is it that whenever I sit down with my Bible to study and write, the phone buzzes like mad with calls, emails, and texts, and my dogs bark relentlessly? Why does my brain think of everything on my To Do List?
The laundry is done. My room and desk are clean. I’ve prepared today’s meals. I have cleaned out drawers, emptied the trash, wiped down countertops, made a phone call, and written a thank you note. I’ve prayed and meditated, showered and dressed, and decided I don’t need a manicure.
Good grief, woman! Just write!
Talking about gifts is hard. Asking others what your gifts are is hard. Writing about gifts is hard!
I can ask my friends what my faults are, my sins, my blind spots, areas where I need to stretch, grow, and mature in any day of the week and twice on Sundays. But, asking “what are my gifts”? That feels selfish, self-centered, praise-seeking, and yucky.
So, I don’t want to talk about my gifts. It’s weird and uncomfortable and I feel squirmy. But, here I go anyway…
What if the things you love to do actually converge with God’s will? – Jennie Allen
Projects 1-4 on Pages 70-73 of the Restless Study Guide:
PROJECT 1: Identify a highlight from each life stage and what specifically was satisfying to you
- Ages 0-7 — Dancing (actually from age 6-14). I loved performing well with my team. I loved feeling like I was naturally really good at something.
- Ages 7-12 — Doing well at school. I loved learning and studying. Working hard and getting A’s felt fantastic. (I kind of left the A’s behind around high school, but once upon a time…)
- Ages 13-18 — Cheerleading. My senior year I was head cheerleader and I absolutely loved leading people in encouraging our team. I loved being on the microphone. I loved the excitement of the games. I loved the camaraderie of our cheer squads and students.
- Ages 19-24 — Being a leader in fellowship groups and singing in Church. This was one of my favorite seasons of life. Church was family to me. I was growing in my gifts. I loved singing on the worship team every week. I loved all of my fellow worship team members and loved being a small part of leading people into God’s presence.
- Ages 25+ — Mothering, homeschooling, welcoming people in our home. I love being mama to my kids. This role of being a mother has definitely brought me the greatest joys and the greatest sorrows. It’s been my primary job for 19 years and I’ve treasured it. I also loved teaching for (most of the) 14 years. I loved hosting parties, Bible studies, and groups at my home, inviting people in and hopefully loving them and encouraging them.
PROJECT 4: Reflect and narrow down five strengths most evident in your life.
That wasn’t so bad after all! Now it’s your turn! If you struggle with this week as I did, I am praying for you! You can do it!
This Week: Gifts (Chapter 2)
- Read Chapter 2 of the Restless Study Guide (pages 55-76)
- Write your responses in the Study Guide
- Watch Session 3 of this week’s Restless video either on DVD or on-demand at Vimeo($2.99/session)
Remember to Join Us for our Online Live-Chat Study
Use this link to join us in the chat on Thursday nights 10pm EST/ 7 pm PST:
Did you see our Week 2 live-chat? If not, here’s the replay!
If you watched Week 1, you’ve already met my mother, Margie McClure, and my dear friends — Jaime Guthals (from FaithGateway), Shawn Beese, and Tracy Marcus. We also welcomed Tiffany Pertillar as our guest, and YOU can join us, too! Contact us if you’d like to be a live-chat guest. Enter your information here if you’re willing to be on camera for the chat or you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Share Your Story
OK, don’t make me do this by myself. On Thursday, I’ll ask these questions of Tracy, Shawn, Jaime, Margie, Tiffany, and hopefully other guests, but I’d love to hear your answers to Projects 1-4 about your gifts! Leave your comments below! ~ Laurie
As you dig into the Restless study this week, be brave! I know it’s hard to talk about this, so I am praying for you. Remember that our loving Father created you and gave you your gifts in particular “just as He determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11) in order to glorify Him and to bless and build up others! Your gifts are necessary!
God, we love You so much! Thank You for endowing us with particular, supernatural gifts and talents. Thank You for getting under the hood with us as we explore what You have for us to do and be for the purpose of bringing You glory. Open our eyes to see how we may love and serve You more. Expand the boundaries and knock down walls. Help us to be brave and help us to always be humble. Teach us to celebrate one another’s gifts and to cooperate together as one Body. We want to give you all the glory, Abba! We adore You! Amen.