Embracing What God Gave You
To start off this discussion, I am going to have to be honest about something. In general, I am quite mediocre at most things. I am referring to natural talents.
I’ve tried lots of skills and trades: cooking, painting, design, music, gardening, knitting, crafts, skateboarding, athletics, business, finances, etc. In the end, I wasn’t good or bad at any of these things; I was just kind of average.
Yes, I feel that I am an adequate writer, but I would never claim to be a master at it. All the commas aren’t perfect and my sentences can be choppy. I don’t expertly use semi-colons and dashes like magic. My words aren’t always smooth and sweet like butter and honey.
In general, I am average at just about most things and not super talented at anything specific.
It took me a long time to feel grateful for what abilities God has given to me. It took me even longer to trust that God knew what He was doing when He assembled my skill set for me.
Eventually, God worked on my heart so that I was able to have confidence in His plan for my design. It was, however, a long, hard process that required some painful disappointments.
Trying to Fit a Round Peg in a Square Hole
When I was younger, I wanted something that made me distinguished. I wanted to be able to say I was an expert at something. I admired people with talent. I wanted something that gave me a sense of purpose. Something others would admire about me.
There was a boy in my high school art class who was a truly gifted artist. I just remember thinking how great it must be to be able to have an outlet like that to express yourself through. I felt envy.
There were many girls in my classes who were extremely gifted athletes. They excelled at basketball, softball, and volleyball. They were appreciated by the whole school. I felt envy.
It didn’t stop in high school. Even through my college years and my young adult life, I still hadn’t felt like I found my niche.
In my late high school/early college years, I became friends with many people who were gifted in music. I felt envy.
Despite having no natural affinity for music, despite having extreme stage fright, and despite there not being a single musical gene in my family, I decided I was going to force myself to be a great musician.
I spent hours every day for years practicing guitar, learning music, learning about music history, writing songs, etc. I spent thousands of dollars on instruments and equipment. After everything, I was only a semi-decent guitar player, sub-par singer, and I was terrified of performing in front of people.
Nothing about what I was trying to do was right. It really was like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. As the years passed, I drifted apart from my musician friends.
What did I get out of it all? Well…I have an above average appreciation for music. So there’s that… Otherwise, I ended up with a lot of expensive equipment that is now collecting dust.
I do pick up my acoustic guitar every now and again to play a bit, and that’s about it. I find that I enjoy it more when I’m not taking it seriously. I also like playing the guitar along with friends who are gifted in singing. I realize now, that I will never be extraordinary at music and that is alright.
I learned a hard lesson, but a good one. My reasons back then for desiring natural talent and gifts were all selfish and vain. I wanted to impress people and I wanted to feel special. I wanted something that would make me stand out, and in a lot of ways make me feel better than other people.
My intentions were not selfless or about helping others. My ambitions were not about bringing glory to God. Ultimately, I wanted to bring glory to myself.
Though I didn’t deserve it, God provided a somewhat happy ending to my selfish ambition and my ingratitude. During my scheme of self-aggrandizement, I learned something interesting about myself.
I realized that I really, really liked writing lyrics; I had been writing lyrics to songs nearly every day for a number of years. Once the music was out of the picture, songs became poetry, poetry became more writing, and writing ended up being that special thing. I enjoy doing it to this day.
Now granted, I wish I could have figured out my passion in a less selfish and foolish way, but I did figure it out. God had put it there when He made me and he revealed it to me after I had been humbled. For that, I am thankful.
What You Give to God, He will Multiply:
At the risk of sounding cliché, everybody is special. Yes, that sounds cheesy, but it is the absolute truth. God crafted each person with their own unique purpose and abilities. When He made each and every person, He was doing so in accordance with His plan.
I used to feel very inadequate and mediocre. The reason for this is because I was focusing on myself and what I believed it meant to be great. I was not focusing on God, His greatness, and His plan for me.
People, even those with the purest intentions (unlike myself in the past), may not always feel like they have much to offer God. They might feel like they are lacking in the way of talents and resources. This simply isn’t the truth though.
God specializes in making the least the greatest. He specializes in making mediocre into marvelous. He specializes in making scarcity into plenty. He equipped us with just the right amount of everything He needed us to have to fulfill our part of His plan.
Bring to God What You Have:
In writing this I thought of the miracle where Jesus feeds the multitude. Many probably know this miracle, but I will quickly re-cap it.
Some 5,000 people had followed Jesus to a mountainside because they heard of His ability to heal. As the day went on, the question was raised, how would such a huge crowd be fed? The disciples didn’t know what to do until the disciple Andrew spoke up:
“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 9:9, NIV
To everyone’s awe, Jesus took those two tiny fish and the five loaves of bread, blessed them, and distributed enough to feed all 5,000 hungry people. Not only that, but there was actually some left over:
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. John 9:12-13, NIV
What if the boy didn’t believe that his meager provisions would do the people any good? What if he was embarrassed by how little he had to offer? What if he didn’t give over the loaves of bread and tiny fish to Jesus and he just kept it to himself? God used what the boy offered, multiplied it, and it had gone down in history as a great miracle.
Whether it is a few loaves of bread, or if it is seemingly average abilities, God will use these things in accordance with His plan. Bring to God what you have. He will not only use what is offered to Him to bring Himself glory, but He will also multiply it.