It's been a wild weekend. A July weekend. July. Ah, July. It's the month of our lives, you see. Three of our five birthdays huddle at the end of this month like we're basketball players at the end of close game. E's birthday was the 25th (Beve's is next, on the 30th and mine the day after on the 31st), so to celebrate E's most momentous of birthdays (besides her birth-day itself, of course!), we shuttled down (in more than one car, due to our very careful planning. Sigh!) to Seattle to help her celebrate. She got to show us her brand-new condo, one she's slowly and carefully making her own mark on, help her do a little shopping at Home Depot now that she has those big-girl home-owner pants belted firmly in place. Beve and the girls did some thrifting together (a gift E requested when she first decided to buy a condo), and we all helped her pick out the perfect (and perfectly comfortable) couch in both size and color. She's one happy grown-up, my oldest child. Yes, I said child. Even when I'm 87 and she's 60, she'll still be my child. That's just how it works.
Then, after dinner, my sister, RE and I drove back home. Having a day alone with my sister is quite a treat and we filled it from pilar to post. And while we were sitting at the requisite afternoon tea (I'm chagrined that we neglected to take our friends there last week!!!), she asked this: If money, other obligations and health were no object, what would you do with the rest of your life?
It's the perfect question for those of us in our mid-fifties who are staring retirement in the face. Last week with our friends, retirement and the last decade or less of working came up a lot. But RE got to the heart of it. And my answer was quick and instinctive. I'd teach/preach and write. Study the word so I could share with the body of Christ. Do what I'm doing, in a sense, but in a larger context, with a more pronounced aim. I love teaching, and have felt blessed by the many opportunities He's given me to do so in retreats, churches, etc.
"I'd organize them for you," she told me. That's what she likes. Organizing such things. Feels blessed to do it. Called to it. Good at it.
We got to talking about humility then, and how often we pretend haven't been given the gifts we've been given because we think that's humility. But that's just stupidity. Beve gave me the watch I wear. I like this watch. It's pretty, functional and it pleases me as it works and aids my life. But for me to take credit for either its work or the gift would be ludicrous. All I do is wear it. Likewise with spiritual gifts. We wear them. We are the beneficiaries. First, of life, then Life in His Son, then in whatever He specifically gives each of us so that His bride is complete, so that His Kingdom comes. It isn't a matter of being proud to admit we know He's given us whatever gifts He's given us, but of given credit where it's due, of being honest about the fact that our abilities aren't self-generated.
So I think about the question RE posed this afternoon (and I'll probably be pondering it for quite a while), and I know He means me to be useful. Back when I was a green college student there an Amy Grant song with the lyrics, "
I know a man, maybe you know him, too.
You never can tell; he might even be you.
He knelt at the altar, and that was the end.
Hes saved, and thats all that matters to him.
His spiritual tummy, it cant take too much.
One day a week, he gets a spiritual lunch.
On sunday, he puts on his spiritual best,
And gives his language a spiritual rest.
Hes just a faaa...
Hes just a fat little baby!
Wa, wa, waaaaa....
He wants his bottle, and he dont mean maybe.
He sampled solid foods once or twice,
But he says doctrine leaves him cold as ice.
Ba, ba, ba, ba...ba, ba...ba, ba!
Hes been baptized, sanctified, redeemed by the blood,
But his daily devotions are stuck in the mud.
He knows the books of the Bible and john 3:16.
Hes got the biggest king james youve ever seen!
Ive always wondered if hell grow up someday.
Hes mommas boy, and he likes it that way.
If you happen to see him, tell him I said,
Hell never grow, if he never gets fed.
Hes just a fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fa-at, fat...
Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fa-at, fat...
Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, faaaaat...
The last think I want is to be a bloated believer, a person who gets so full that they never go anything but take it in. I think that after today, I'll look at this wrist watch and think of what gifts grace my life that help me tell the time of day to those around me. These gifts help His Kingdom come and His will be done in and through and because of me. Without such gifts I'd be late to His banquet, I know I would, because I'd be working too hard to get there on my own. And once I belly up to that table, I'd be so busy shoving my face in, I wouldn't see what He intends me to contribute to the great feast. Does this make sense? Because He always intends something. That's the point. I am who I am because He gave such gifts. And I am meant to contribute WITH them. They are meant to be used. Spiritual gifts are never nic-nacs, never merely decorative. They're always meant to be worn and used and wielded.
Let's not be obese believers, okay? Let's name our gifts, learn how He wants to use them, and be glad.