Monday, September 8, 2008

Blessings Like Manna

Have you ever taken one of those spiritual gifts inventories? If you haven't, I'd say it is worth doing. Not only is it interesting, but it helps you see where your abilities are so that you can learn to use them to serve. My church offers a class on service, and I found it very enlightening that serving doesn't mean misery! Once you know your gifts - I suggest reading Boundaries, then you'll be better prepared about when to say "YES" and when (and how) to politely decline. If you are curious about gifts, there are some free surveys that can help give you some insight at the following links:
  • http://www.churchgrowth.org/analysis/intro.php
  • http://mintools.com/spiritual-gifts-test.htm#begin
  • http://old.enewhope.org/spiritualgifts/evaluation.php
What got me started thinking about spiritual gifts was sitting down to write about one of mine. At first it surprised me that one of my strongest spiritual gifts was faith - I never considered myself to have particularly strong faith. But what I've learned over the past several months is that I've lived most of my life as a spiritual baby. I'd start to grow, then I'd slack off into a comfort zone of sorts.

The thing is - both our spiritual gifts and the zeal in our hearts require fuel. Our lives tend to run hot and cold ... like an unattended campfire allowed to simmer to warm ashes overnight, and be rekindled again in the evening. What would it take to keep that fire burning bright? We'd have to keep providing it fuel, and we'd have to keep fanning the flames.

A spiritual high at an event is an amazing thing. I had many of them growing up - camp, Dawson McAllister conferences, mission trips. Places where each day was lived out wholly aware of God and His Word. But then we'd come home, and it would be back to normal. I'd slowly stop reading my Bible, and my prayer life would dwindle to brief cries for help in moments of panic.

So, a spiritual gift, like a musical gift, requires practice. You may be gifted at the violin - but if you never pick it up - no one, including yourself, will be the wiser. So while my gift surprised me - once I started exercising it things started making more sense. I've grown so much more in 2008 than in the rest of my life.

I came to God for some much needed healing, and while I won't say it has been easy - He has come through, just as He promised me. Now I guard my heart like the treasure He says it is. If it is precious to God - it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. His love sustains me and I have faith that His love will not break my heart.

Slowly but surely, I let go my grip on the things in life that I'm afraid will spin out of control - or cease to exist - if I'm not holding them. My faith is growing that God's plans are always, always better than mine. When the voice of discouragement comes I run to God. I cover myself in prayer and His word. I surround myself with His people. My focus is on the things He commands - His work, His opinion. He sifts through me and washes away what is not of Him when I let everything go.

Time and again in the past months, even weeks! Even the past several DAYS! I pray and meditate, and when I'm sure of the direction God is pointing me - I boldly step beyond what I can see. And He has been there! He doesn't just catch me - He lifts me up higher to something I didn't even know was possible.

I'm aware that with growth will come pains, and that the flow of blessings in my life does not go unnoticed by the enemy. But I also know that God will not allow anything to happen that is not part of His plan - and His plan is good.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Amanda,

    I took Systematic Theology 1 and 2 from Dr. Earl Radmacher. He focused on persons finding their spiritual gifts. But, as God's plans are better than ours these things can take awhile to both figure out and implement.

    In my latest I discuss the largest and fastest growing North American churches.

    Russ:)

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  2. Amanda, much of what you wrote reminds me of my wife. She is a musician, for one, and she fully believes in Growth via practice. Gifts included. She may even use a term like 'spiritual' high if inclined.

    Jim

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