It’s Christmas morning and I go to open the giant box that my mother-in-law sent us. As usual, she’s drawn little cartoons and written notes all over the outside of the box. I slit the packing tape with a kitchen knife, expecting to find a number of smaller packages wrapped in tissue paper with nametags attached to them. Instead I find…a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. What?!
Now don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful juicer. It can take whole carrots, oranges, apples, anything and turn it into a nutritious and delicious beverage. I’m sure that someone who is into juicing would have been very excited about it. I am not one of those people. I have never juiced anything in my life and it’s not something I have a desire to start doing.
Josh and I looked at each other in confusion. Huh? A juicer? By this time the kids are excited to open more presents, so the juicer gets set aside. An hour later, all the presents are open and it’s time to call people to wish them a Merry Christmas.
Janet answers the phone in two rings and the first thing she says is, “How do you like the juicer? Did you see that it came with the bonus accessory kit?” Stumped for an answer, Josh acknowledges that we saw the bonus kit and asks what made her think of getting a juicer for us. His mom explains that she had gotten one for each of his two sisters and us because they were a great way to get all your fruits and vegetables quickly and efficiently. Josh thanks her for thinking of us and then lets the kids chatter away to their grandma on the phone.
So this juicer has sat, unused, in my garage for the last two years. It’s dusty, neglected, and forlorn. It’s a fully functional appliance, but I don’t see any value in it. To me it’s useless. Sometimes that’s how I feel about the gifts God has given me. You look at a newborn baby, excited at all the potential gifts that God has placed inside them and eagerly watch as these gifts come out as the child grows to adulthood. I feel like I’m a juicer. My gifts and talents, in contrast to those of the people around me, seem efficient and good for your health.
I know you are…
I look at Josh and see the creativity and gifting God has given him for music. He can sit down with his guitar and create music that inspires people, evokes emotion and worships God. If I sit down with the guitar I can play three chords and those not very well.
I look at my friend Judah, who is the youth pastor at our church. He has a passion and a talent for art. He can create paintings that he then sells to benefit anti-slave trafficking charities. He decorates his home and office to create an atmosphere that is warm and inviting. He uses his artistic abilities to glorify God and create awareness about the injustices that occur in today’s society. If I wanted to paint a picture it would have to be a paint-by-number and no one would want to buy it.
I look at my friend Dee. She seems to excel at everything she puts her hand to: photography, quilting, decorating, and even raising chickens. She has this personality that invites you in and quiets your soul. She is a nurturer and a mother to so many people in her life. She inspires me just by being her.
But what am I?
Then I look at myself. I’m good at administration and organizing things. But that seems like such a boring gift. I don’t see any value in the gifts God has given me; like my juicer, I see it as useless. I see the gifts that my friends have and I wish God had given me that instead of what I’ve received.
Someone once said to me that it’s hard to recognize the gifts God has given you because they come naturally to you. I don’t see my gifts from God as a valuable contribution because I assume everyone can do it as easily as I do. I see the things that are hard for me and admire those abilities in others. I can easily recognize their gifts, but not my own.
Then I look once again at my husband and my friends. I look at them and compare them to me for a second time. This time I notice that the things that come easily to me are difficult for them. My husband is awful at time management and organizing things. He calls me his “wifetary.” The same is true for my friends. Where they are weak, I am strong. And it’s not just in the “boring” gifts I have of administration and organization. I find that another thing that comes naturally to me, opening my home and providing meals for people, is an area that they see as a gift in me.
I’ve always been told that it’s not good to compare our gifts and abilities with others because we all have unique and valuable things to contribute to the kingdom of God. But I think that in this instance comparison has helped me to see value in what I’ve been given.
It’s like when we were selling our home. The realtor did an appraisal of our neighborhood to help us establish the value of our home. The need for an appraisal arose because no two properties are exactly alike which means that there cannot be a set measurement of value. The value of my gifts goes up, for me, when I recognize how uniquely I am designed by God.
We are the body of Christ and we all have different functions to perform that lead to the betterment of the body. One gift isn’t better than another; it’s just different. I began to see that the gifts I had received from God, when He formed me in my mother’s womb, were important to Him and His plan for me to have. As I look around and see the abilities God has given to my friends and family I now glorify God for the creativity He had in creating us and for the unique way He made me.
God knew what was best for me; what would improve the life He has planned here for me on earth. Just like my mother-in-law, He wants to provide me with the tools to better my life. My mother-in-law saw the value in a juicer because, if used regularly, it can improve your health and give you energy. To me, the juicer was useless and there were other gifts I’d like better. Although I might still also feel that way about some of the gifts God’s given me, I realize that it’s important to use them and see the value in them as well as recognize how my contributions are unique.