You spent hours working on this gift.
You created it from your heart specifically for the person that was to receive it.
You customized it to fit them perfectly and to show them to their best advantage. After all that the gift is rejected for one reason or another. They politely said either directly or indirectly: "It's not really me. No thank you."
And in your heart, you felt you were rejected too.
Lest we climb up on our wounded-heart soapbox and look down upon those who would do such a thing, let's look at some of the gifts we have received with, shall we say less-than gracious thanksgiving...
How does God feel when we do the same with the spiritual gifts he has - with great consideration, given us?
Recently, I agreed to do my first dramatic presentation. I was to perform in front of my church on a day when there would be many visitors. While initially I was excited to explore this opportunity, the closer the day came, the more I started refusing the gift that God has given me.
"I can't do this. I am too scared. I am going to forget all my lines and mess it all up. I am going to look silly. I think I over-act."
My list was as long as my arm as to why I couldn't do it. Finally the night came. I was terrified. One of the kids in our church was also giving her first dramatic presentation and right before she was to go on, she was overcome with her fear. While I was encouraging her that she was going to do great, had nailed it in practice and that God was right there with her, I was led to say "It is when we are terrified, and do it anyway, that God is most pleased with us. He blesses that." As soon as I said it, I realized God wanted me to hear that too.
I was rejecting his gift. I was telling Him it didn't fit me and that I didn't want it.
when I realized what I had been telling God I was embarrassed. I was rejecting a gift he had already given me because I was too scared to use it.
Then I simply told God I wanted to do it, but couldn't without Him. I needed His words. I accepted the gift of speaking and dramatic presentation and went for it.
As I was on that stage, I have never felt the presence of Jesus as strongly or as real as I did that night. I felt if I looked up, I would look right at him, he was that real to me. Afterward, several people came up to me to tell me how touched they were by what I had said. Only working in the power of God's gifting, in the place he has called us to be, will bring that closeness to him and the ability to minister to others hearts.
All callings are based on a gift that God has given. A gift specifically designed and created for use to not only glorify Himself, but to bring the bearer of the gift closer to God's heart.
"6Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith; 7[He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching; 8He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness."
Romans 12:6-8, Amplified
We can't all be the worship leader, or the creative artist, or the eloquent speaker. Not everyone is equipped to be a bold and ready street evangelist. Not everyone can give a dramatic presentation that touches hearts.
But we also can't all be the one who can organize a funeral dinner in under 24 hours. Or the person that sees that one flower or shrub that would bring balance and warmth to the entrance of the sanctuary. We can't all be the one that sees the details and leaves a shine on the floor, full paper towel dispensers and spotless glass in all the entrance doors. There has to be someone to design and print the bulletins and someone to run the sound and media. There has to be someone to be silly and crazy and share the love of Jesus with a bunch of kids.
When we search out a job or task that is outside of our calling not only are we taking the place of someone who is called to that task but we are telling God "No thanks. You picked the wrong gift for me."
Don't you think he might feel a little rejected?
I have done my fair share of explaining why I can't, or won't, or shouldn't. I have spent too much time in areas that were not mine to serve in and running from the ones that I am called to.
No one else can do what we are gifted to do. When we aren't using our gifts, something is missing. Not acting in our gifts leaves a hole in your church's ministry to others. No matter what your gifting is. What would the Body of Christ look like if we embraced our gifts and used them? How many people would we reach? How much closer to God would we be?
Be encouraged. Even if you feel you have lost the opportunity to use a gift in the past, God will bring more ways to use it if you ask Him. Be open, be willing to say "yes" when you are invited outside your comfort zone and "no" when you are offered something where you are not called.
Amazingly, the places we are most meant to be are usually the places that stretch us the most, bring the most fear, and take the most from us. And after we have given all the emotion, energy, thought and faith we can, we see that God did something totally amazing through us and it brought glory to His name.
And remember what your mom taught you: "No matter what, don't forget to say thank you for whatever you get."