1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12: 1-8 (NIV)
Gates is just a little bit different than most children his age. Sometimes you wouldn’t even notice it, but hang around him long enough and you’ll get the sense that there is something special about him. It isn’t something that has been diagnosed yet, I’ve been too afraid to get an official name because I want it to be something that he will grow out of, something that will just disappear. I ignored it when his speech was delayed until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. The true extent of his delay caught me by surprise when I had him evaluated by the school district. And it wasn’t just speech, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, everything was delayed except his ability to learn. (Although quite frankly, I have made it through life without being able to catch or throw balls well and so that portion of the test still miffs me a bit. And really, how was he supposed to learn to catch when I can’t throw it to him?)
He’s grown out of a lot of those delays now, but as I said, hang around him long enough and you will sense that there is still something a bit different. Maybe his utter and absolute focus on whatever happens to be occupying his brain at the moment, maybe his mannerisms and pitch when he talks, maybe the way he seems to drift off into his own world at times, or his complete unawareness of social cues. And yet God didn’t leave Gates out when he spoke of the body. I don’t know what his gifts will mature into, but I know that when he turns his attention on someone he has the ability to make them feel absolutely loved. (Maybe that’s just my motherly bias speaking, but I don’t think so. It’s in the smile and the glint in his eyes; it’s there for those who are willing to see it.)
Sometimes I fall into the trap of feeling like I’m one of God’s ‘special’ children. That somehow, the gifts that develop in others just aren’t developing in me. Even as I struggle with feeling unfinished I also struggle with wondering if there is anything to finish. Maybe my walls were meant to be bare, maybe I am that one person in the entire universe to whom God somehow declined to give a gift or talent. That’s a rather presumptuous thought when it comes right down to it, I guess. Call it circular logic; in order for me to be the one person totally beneath God’s notice there’d have to be something rather unique about me, right?
Our pastor preached on gifts this morning. (I’ll try to get a link up once it’s up on the church website, I honestly believe it is worth listening to and I’m not just saying that because he reads my blog.) He started with a football analogy that quite frankly zoomed over my head like, well, like a field goal kick. But here is what I got from it: Take a risk. When we are learning what our gifts are sometimes exercising them at all feels risky. We want them to spring forth full blown and that doesn’t often happen. Sometimes we have to fall flat on our face a few times before we discover just how God intends to use us. Sometimes we are going to look awkward when we first start exercising our gifts. We may practice them quietly for years before they reach their full impact. But keep using them.
Each of you has a gift. Maybe you know what it is, maybe you only think you do. Maybe you are clueless, or maybe like me you are still thinking “OK, God, I think maybe this is my gift, but how on earth is that any practical good?” And maybe you are still at the point of thinking you’ve been left out of the whole gift thing. I can promise you (because God promised it first), you do have a gift. This week, may God begin to open your eyes to see the gift that he has placed in you.