TOPIC: Hope for the Hopeless
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SCRIPTURE: 1 Peter 4:10-11, NLT
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”
By Annie Yorty
Oh, I can’t stand this! Groaning, I tossed and turned on my bed in frustration. Just as it had a million times before, my mind commanded my right hand to flex. But this time, the appendage, packed in layers and layers of gauze encased within a rigid form and covered with a stretchy bandage, refused to obey. The bulky cast dangled at the end of my arm like a heavy bowling pin with four puffy fingertips protruding.
A week out from joint replacement surgery, I already felt claustrophobic, barely able to resist clawing the wrapping off my arm. The pain, initially excruciating, had subsided enough that I yearned to move. To stretch just a bit. To simply use my hand. But, bound and immobile, it seemed disconnected from the command center of my brain.
My useless hand made me wonder how often I’ve constrained spiritual gifts God graciously gave me when I was born again as His child. His Spirit places these abilities within us for an eternal purpose. They enable us to “do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).
Apostle Peter lists two of the gifts which may be infused into us by the power of the Holy Spirit—speaking and serving others. We find additional gifts listed in other books of the New Testament—teaching, encouragement, giving, mercy, prophecy, leadership, and more. “It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have” (1 Corinthians 12:11 NLT).
God supplies us with the strength to use our gifts. Often, however, like my immobilized hand, there seems to be some disconnect between the power source and implementation. I sometimes find my gifts hanging limp and useless.
At times, a lack of courage prevents me from acting. I’ve been too timid to step out of my comfort zone. Other times, I’ve focused on the gifts of others and judged my Spirit-filled abilities to be insignificant by comparison. I admit I’ve also used my gifts selfishly, tending to my own needs and neglecting to edify others. If these attitudes become habits, my spiritual gifts will languish and even atrophy from disuse.
I don’t want to be a dead weight dragging down the Body of Christ. I’d rather be vibrant and sensitive to the Head of the Body, Jesus Christ, flexing my gifts at His command.
During recovery from surgery, I exercised my hand as it healed. I started by wiggling my swollen fingers to encourage a flow of life-giving blood. As the feeling gradually returned, I stretched and strengthened each digit. When healing stalled, I sought an occupational therapist who specialized in hands. He assigned targeted, repetitive tasks that built up weak areas.
Just as I exercised my hand, we need to use our spiritual gifts. Like my hand therapist, God cheers for us as we start small and gradually increase in flexing our spiritual gifts to do the good things He planned for us from before we were born. When we get stuck in our progress, God shines through our weaknesses by designing circumstances that target our need for growth.
I practiced for months to achieve the goal of all five fingers working together properly. I rejoiced when my right hand finally resumed normal tasks of writing, brushing my teeth, closing buttons, tying shoes, and much more. Life was so much easier!
God created the interdependence of bones, muscles, and tendons in my hand. He also fashions a Body out of all the uniquely complex members of His family. He unifies us to operate under the power of the Holy Spirit. We serve others, perhaps weakly at first, until we become healthy, functional vessels of God’s grace.
How satisfied I felt when I could finally stretch and use my fingers again. But nothing physical will ever compare to the pleasure of exercising our spiritual gifts for God’s glory.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
What spiritual gifts have you received to serve the Body of Christ? What might be holding you back from exercising your gifts for God’s glory?
Annie Yorty writes and speaks to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. She has written From Ignorance to Bliss: God’s Heart Revealed through Down Syndrome. Please connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.