This week I made Happy Meals for supper. That’s right, I said I MADE Happy Meals. I’m not perfect when it comes to food. Occasionally we pick up fast food, and I’ve been known to throw a frozen pizza in the oven on a weekend, but for the most part, even on busy days, I make it a priority to make home cooked meals, and a favorite for the kids is homemade Happy Meals. I make homemade chicken nuggets and french-fries, individually wrap them in single portioned amounts and put them in a bag decorated with my mad Sharpie skills. It is served with the very special, because it is not often provided, chocolate milk. They enjoy the food, but I think the novelty is what makes it most fun. They love seeing how I have decorated their bag uniquely for each of them and pulling out their little packages of food, just like they would if we were sitting in the dining room of McDonald’s. Most of all, they are excited to pull out the surprise they know is inside. They have found their favorite candy, trinkets from the dollar store, small projects from the craft store, etc. This week though, I did something different. At the bottom of each bag laid a dollar bill. To my great surprise, they did not like this treat.
One might think I was disappointed by their ungratefulness, but I was actually quite touched by their disappointment. It wasn’t that they weren’t grateful for their dollar. They were. They don’t often get money of their own. We don’t give them an allowance and they generally don’t receive money for birthdays and Christmas. That leaves what they receive doing odd jobs for the neighbor, what they get for lost teeth, and the quarter they retrieve if they’re lucky enough to be the one to return the cart at Aldi. They were disappointed because they take pleasure in pulling out something that was chosen just for them. I loved that they were still at a stage when they treasured the gifts I gave rather than wanting to choose for themselves. It got me to thinking, how often have I wanted to choose my own gifts rather than finding joy in unwrapping or discovering something God picked just for me?
Here are a couple (there are more) places the Bible that speak of the gifts God gives to His children .
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8, NIV).
“To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues “ (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, NIV).
A decent list of gifts can be made from just these two passages.
Distinguishing between spirits (often called discernment)
Speaking in tongues
Interpretation of tongues
That’s a pretty sweet list and I don’t know about you, but there are totally some gifts there I would like to pick out for myself.
Serving—sure I have done it before. I take care of my elderly neighbor and when I was on church staff was known to shovel the parking lot, clean urinals, and take care of vomit. But that’s not really my thing and when I look at those to whom it comes naturally, I think, “Wow, if only I was a servant like them.” I’m lucky to remember to ask somebody if they want a drink when they come to my house.
Generosity—How cool would it be to have the means to give so much away? I would be buying wells, sponsoring multiple children (and probably adopting a few too), being the one to always buy my friends lunch, giving gifts, etc. Let’s face it though, my kids get excited about their Aldi quarter, generosity is not my thing either.
Encouragement—I am in awe of those who have this gift. Sure, I have encouraged somebody before, but I have to think about it, and even then, I stumble for the words and fumble my efforts to show that I care. Sending cards isn’t something I’ve thought about since… well until just now, when I sat down here thinking about encouragers. I see what encouragers do though; I feel what they do when the gift is directed toward me. They have the ability to turn a frown upside down and push in the right direction with their amazing cheerleading skills. Yep, I would like that gift.
In addition to these spiritual gifts, each of us is created with certain talents, and I would love to pick a few of those too. I could go for being more athletic, to have an inclination toward music (I’ve always wanted to plunk out hymns on the piano…I have an old soul), or to be able to do math without my fingers or touchpoints (does anybody remember those?).
I could keep on going, but I won’t, because when I saw my kids long for a gift chosen by me, I was reminded to be thankful for the gifts my Father has given me, and to find joy in discovering them.
I am a leader. From a young age, I was always able to rally the troops around a vision. I have created large programs and successfully passed them off to others by raising them up to do the job. I am wise, or so I have been told. I am a teacher and have even started to discover my ability to be a preacher. The most recent gift I have been unwrapping is writing. I get giddy when I work on my most current story and was incredibly excited to realize that my work was good enough to get published when that happened for the first time just a few months ago. Why then, would I still want to choose my own gifts? Perhaps it is because my human condition draws me to comparison. I see one gift as better than or more useful than another. God knew this though, and He provides an answer.
Following the 1 Corinthians 12 list of gifts, Paul, who wrote this letter to the church in Corinth, explains that all of these gifts came the same Spirit, are a part of one body, and addresses the issue of comparison or significance of the gifts.
“You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-18, the Message).
There is no need for comparison. God has gifted us each uniquely, making us each a significant part of a greater body designed to fulfill His purposes. There’s also no need to choose, to take our Happy Meal dollar and go shopping. He has chosen for us and His choice is an act of love, just like I show love for my children when I pick out a special surprise for them. We can find joy in discovering what He has chosen and gifted us.
By Kristyn Woodworth at findingtheextrordunarysite.wordpress.com