For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12: 4-6a
I just returned home from Michigan, where I attended a wonderful conference called Speak Up. This is a conference for men and women who are called to spread God’s message through their speaking and writing. I am blessed to have shared this experience with one of my brothers and one of my sisters, not to mention all the other inspiring speakers and writers that I met. I was surrounded by many talented friends who were all at different points in their journey. The leader, Carol Kent, has developed a gifted team who inspired us through their personal messages, drama, worship, training seminars and small group mentoring. Each of these team members are also at different stages of their ministry journey and they love empowering others.
The message woven throughout the weekend was that we are all unique children of God and have a special message to share. Some will share more through writing, some through their speaking, drama, music, teaching, studies, stories and more. Many of these speakers and writers have survived great tragedies and are living witnesses to the redemption, the hope and the power only accessed through a relationship with Christ. The message we received was clear; even though our experiences may have common threads, our personal story is unique and God needs each of us in ministry because we have varied styles, interests, angles and strengths that will impact others differently. This message spoke volumes to me.
I left with my cup overflowing with life giving water. I was filled with inspiration, encouragement, and equipped to process a ton of ideas when I got home. But I didn’t go home right away. Since I was in Michigan, I was able to steal a couple more days with my siblings and our spouses at my sister’s new lake house. That first night we went out to the lakeshore to take a walk. We spent time marveling at Gods beauty that surrounded us including the gift of the weekend and time with family. While on that walk, we passed by this beautiful piece of driftwood and my sister remembered collecting pieces of driftwood the year before. She explained to us that she was hoping to do something with each of those pieces, but instead they were stored in a box still waiting to be used.
I looked again at this huge log of driftwood on the shore. It was obvious that at one time, it was the trunk and roots to a tree. Now, smoothed by its journey through the water, the gnarled roots created a unique piece. It was much too large to bring home, but I began thinking about the process that wood goes through before it becomes a beautiful piece of driftwood. First the wood is broken off of its place on the tree, then as it travels through the water, it is tossed and thrown about as the water smooths all of its ragged edges away. The results is a unique shaped piece of wood, some small, some large, some remain in nature for all to enjoy, some are collected and used in furniture and decorative pieces for the home. But if we collect them and keep them in a box, no one can appreciate their beauty and uniqueness.
I think this is much like the gifts God gives us. Each of us has gone through difficult times, some more challenging than others, and those churning waters shaped us before we landed on the shore. But that is not the end, God wants to use us in powerful ways. We have our own strengths and stories of hope in action. You may not be called to a ministry like speaking or writing, but you are called to use your gifts and share your story in service to God. It may be in your home, school, work place, church community or even the mission field. Where ever it is, you are a unique and important part of the body of Christ. Just like the driftwood, your challenges have been honed and shaped so that you can bring Gods message and beauty into your world as a part of His body. Don’t doubt this! Now I have to make sure I don’t forget this message myself.
Dear Lord, It is not easy to say this, but thank you for all the experiences you use to shape my life each day. Help me to see that these experiences are not to bring shame to my life but to magnify Your glory. Even though I may feel like I am gasping for air in the churning water, you are there. Help me see my value through your eyes and not get discouraged or hide for You have created me as your unique creation and desire me to use my experiences and gifts in my world. Amen
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