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Your Calling and Your Gifts

Before she passed away, Sue led a group of women who call themselves the Beacons. This gang of big hearts still gathers monthly to piece and sew fabric squares into patterns and then hand-tie layers together into quilts for distribution to the poor in the Appalachian foothills in Southeast Ohio. The Beacons have a limited budget, so receiving donations of cotton fabric is always a plus. That’s were Sue came in, for while sewing was not among this leader’s skill sets, procurement of donated fabric was. “I can’t sew, but I can beg,” she would quip. The irony was rich: the leader of a quilting group, unable to sew but humble enough to ask store managers for remnants.

This story reminds us that we all in the body of Christ have different gifts, for we saw in Sue what we heard from Paul: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”1 Yet in Sue, we see more than just the differences among us; we grasp the wisdom behind them, the beauty of our submission, and the confidence to thrive in our uniqueness. There is no reason to envy the gifts and callings of others, for no matter our role, it is vital and worth our all. Again, Paul challenges us, “So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”2

Ours, then, is to accept our differences, embracing our role, celebrating our gifts, and living boldly in the confidence that God knows what He is doing in us and through us. So, if public speaking terrifies you, but you mentor well one-on-one, engage deeply. If you cannot endure a short-term mission trip, but you can intercede for those who do, pray boldly. If you do not fully understand the troubles besieging others, but you have the compassion to come alongside them, then care sacrificially. Your roles and your gifts are all part of God’s plan. So be bold, and rejoice. You are gifted and equipped for whatever God has in store for you today.

Father, thank You calling me into Your kingdom work. No role is unimportant nor any obedience unfruitful, so lead me into whatever You have for me to do today. I trust You. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
2 Romans 12:6-8 NLT

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Come and Sit with Me for a While

“You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” —Psalm 16:11

Our Bible discussion among internationals was winding down for the evening. Just in our little breakout group alone were people originating from Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, China, and even two from Michigan. Now it was time to share our prayer requests. One by one they poured out from full hearts—deep desires for faithfulness, hope, healing, strength, stamina, and direction, some of these for ourselves and some for others. When it was her turn, one young woman—we’ll call her Michelle for purposes of this post—prefaced her plea, explaining to us, “Sometimes I will say to God, ‘I don’t have a prayer [right now], but can you come and sit with me for a while?’ I find it calming and freeing.” Her prayer? She wanted more of this. And in that humble moment, we all did. For this was relationship—the Creator and the created, together.

It is good simply to be in the presence of God—resting in His love, trusting in His care, and enjoying His being. David longed for such nearness, expressing his desire through lyrics, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”1 Likewise, God desires us to draw near and just be with Him, such as the time when Jesus and His disciples were so busy in ministry that they didn’t even have a chance to eat. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” He told them, so “they went away by themselves . . . to a quiet place.”2 Jesus and His friends, just being together.

The 17th century mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and theologian Blaise Pascal once opined, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” If this is true, then here is some good news for humanity and its problems: we don’t have to sit anywhere alone. Take a moment today—now, if you can—and sit quietly with God. Enjoy His presence, knowing He enjoys yours—the Creator and the created, Jesus and His friends, God and you, together.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. —Psalm 73:28

Jesus, come and sit with me for a while. In Your presence may I find freedom and calm. Amen.

1 Psalm 42:1-2
2 Mark 6:31-32

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Balm or Blame

Do you remember Hank? In our September 14 post, he gave us a glimpse of life under parole—released from incarceration, yet remaining under the watchful eye of the penal system. He is grateful for his new season of life; he uses it daily “to contribute to a broken society that [I] helped break.” While Hank views his parole experience as “a positive one” overall, it is not without challenges, for there is, in his words, an implied, “We’ll let you out, but . . . we’re going to remind you of what you’ve done and who you are.” Now parole officers have the difficult job of protecting society while navigating offenders back into it, and those who do it well deserve our gratitude. Yet Hank’s experience illustrates the human tendency to blame and criticize others for their moral frailties, even though we struggle mightily with our own. In our sin nature, we scorn theirs. There must be a better way.

Jesus once asked a gathered crowd, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”1 We all sin, then sin again in judging others, and in doing so, we hold them to a standard we, through our flesh, cannot attain. The apostle Paul speaks for us all: “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”2 Even we who are born into Christ struggle against our sin nature, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other . . .”3 We cannot live a godly life by our own power, nor can anyone else, so why would we heap accusations and judgments upon the already battle-scarred among us? They need balm, not blame.

James wrote, “Don’t speak evil against each other . . . If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law [of love].”4 Instead, life in Christ looks more like this: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”5 Then do we ignore sin? No, not at all. Sin is serious. But “if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”6 Apply balm, not blame. (It’ll feel better to you, too.)

Father, You have compassion on us, remembering that “we are dust.”7 May we be so merciful, bearing hope, not hurt, and balm, not blame. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Matthew 7:3
2 Romans 7:18
3 Galatians 5:17
4 James 4:11 NLT
5 Colossians 3:13-15
6 Galatians 6:1
7 Psalm 103:13-14