I'm not typically given to quoting athletes but I heard him say this once and it struck me as a deep truth to remember. So into my quote book it went.
It comes to mind often....surprisingly often actually. One of those things that makes me aware of the Lord's deep caring of my character. The Devil may know my buttons to push but the Lord knows me, as a whole person and provides the reminders He knows that I need.
Have you ever taken a class on spiritual gifts? When I first took the class I'd never heard of "spiritual gifts" before, even having attended christian schools all my life. It was new to me and it opened my eyes to how specially the Lord had been working in my life in a way I'd not been equipped to see before. My relationship with the Lord became more intimate and I saw that I had a useful purpose in life - I was useful to Him! It was a major marker in my faith walk. Like with anything though it can have it's drawbacks.
While taking this class was tremendously positive, it lacked a firm focus on the fact that gifts are only a tool. We are tools and like a hammer, are only useful if the carpenter picks us up to use us. Gifts are not individual super powers to be used willy nilly. They do not make one person more important or special than another. A hand is no more important than a foot. We don't praise the hammer for pounding the nail, we praise the carpenter for his skills in knowing just the right tools to use. It should be the same with us. We are only as useful as our relationship is close to Him. The farther we get the more rust forms and we don't quite function as accurately or efficiently as we could.
The farther we get, the more credit we take, the more we depend on ourselves instead of Him. Suddenly we find ourselves as a hammer on a bench glowing about how wonderful and awesome we are, yet completely useless. Nonfunctional and totally unaware of how far we've slipped.
Been there, done that.
The thing is, we help each other get there too. We give each other credit for the amazing things that happen as a result of our prayers. I'm rambling off target again, I know but stay with me. When we know what someones gift is, we give them the credit instead of God. We reduce them to that gift, tie them to it and limit them to its use. People have often referred to me as a "Prayer Warrior". A title that indulged my gluttonous ego. I loved it and it sucked me in to a place where I felt powerful and singled out......and every time it would cause me to stumble and fall face first into the fluffy frosted sweetness. My gift became my badge, my identity and then who I was as a whole person seemed to disappear to everyone - including me - except God. In His wisdom He would pull me away from whatever I was doing and set me back into a sort of "time out". Seclusion, not isolation, but a quiet time where opportunities for me to put my foot in my mouth were farther apart, compliments were not needed, where silence helped me review and see things with new eyes, talk to Him, confess and repent...again. Followed by a refreshment and a newly adjusted perspective. I've been in an extended time out. He's shown me what ministry He wants me to do and cleared me of assumptions and rules I thought I needed to follow. He stopped my running after peace and made me sit and experience it as He put it in my lap.
He's shown me my weakness and He's shown me how it is fed. Compliments and credit. Now He is teaching me how to turn my weakness into a way to glorify Him. I've so much to learn here....how to phrase a correction, turn a compliment into a praise of Him...redirecting their attention to Him and off of me. Some respond with an intense tone that I need to stop being so "humble" and accept the praise and ownership that He has blessed me with "tremendous gifts". No. Here is the plain ugly truth:
I am as arrogant and prideful as they come. Jesus and the Devil both know it too. Compliments turn me into a fat kid in a room full of cake and no supervision. Jesus knows I have to turn my nose up at a compliment like its poison because the temptation to stuff my pride with those luscious words is too great a detriment to my diabetic soul.
How to handle those moments? I haven't mastered that yet. Right now I think I verbally flail around until the delectable morsel ends up knocked in the dirt. It's awkward and ungraceful....and can border on offending. On the upside I didn't devour it.......though sometimes I do secretly dig it out of the dirt. While my spirit is covered in dirt filled frosting I turn to Him and don't even have to say "oops I did it again". He knows.
When you know the Lord has used someone in your life to bless you......affirm them by telling them that the Lord has used them in a mighty way to bless you in your life. Share it with them but give credit where credit is due.....to Him and Him alone.
"The Devil knows just what I like and just how I like it."
Blessings of grace and truth, moments of beauty free from flailing.