What Is in Your Hand?
A little over a week ago, I sat at my kitchen table and listened to my friend Heather explain the world of widgets and add-ons and web hosting. I know she was talking because I saw her mouth moving, and my ears seemed to be receiving some sort of sound; but if you were to ask me what she said, I'd probably end up giving you my best impersonation of Charlie Brown's teacher.
Heather is helping me through some very necessary updates to Sometimes a Light (stay tuned); and within a matter of minutes, she had cleared up several things that have eluded me for the last two years. (If you've ever wondered why SAL seems a little low tech, it's not because of some Luddite idealism on my part. It's sheer, unadulterated ignorance.) But sitting there, watching Heather work her magic, something else happened: I remembered of why I believe so strongly in providence.
In Made for More, I describe providence as God's love and His power working together to make us exactly who we are meant to be. You see, it's one thing to embrace the fact that we all reflect God's nature, but it's another thing entirely to understand how the details of our lives allow us to do that. Because just as much as I sat there in awe of Heather's gifting, she expressed the same awe at mine.
But the truth is that that I couldn't explain to her why I ended up writing a book anymore than I could explain why I can't organize a spreadsheet without having to call my husband for tech support. I couldn't explain why I received a Christian education for 17 years (K-5 through B.A.) or why I ended up working beside my husband in church ministry. It's not because I was more committed to God or a "better" Christian or a even a harder worker. The only reason I could come up with was thatGod put the pieces of my life together so I could do what He has called me to do; just like He put the pieces of Heather's life together so she could do what He has called her to do.
And most of the time, those pieces are more mundane than we realize.
Exodus 3-4 tells us about the time God meets Moses in the wilderness and commissions him to return to Egypt. From the flaming boughs of a dessert shrub, God tells Moses of His grand plan to redeem Israel and keep the promises that He made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. He is going to bring His enslaved children into a land that flows with milk and honey, to provide their every need, to be their God. Moses responded to all this with a question. Essentially he asks "So you're expecting me to do what exactly?"
Undeterred, God asks Moses a question of His own: "What is that in your hand?"
What Moses was holding was a shepherd's staff. A staff that he'd been carrying around for the last forty years. A staff that he'd been using to nudge stubborn sheep and support himself in times of weariness. A staff that God was going to use to humble Pharaoh's magicians, part the Red Sea, and lead His people through the wilderness
In many ways, my experience has been a lot like Moses' with his staff. When I first started blogging, I had no way of understanding what God would eventually do. I only knew what He had placed in my hand. I only knew what His providence had given me to serve Him. And once God drew my attention to it, a funny thing happened. Once I realized that I was gifted to write, I automatically realized what I was NOT gifted to do (*ahem* web design) and so I was free to affirm the gifting of others. At the same time that I was freed to use what God had given me, I was also freed to celebrate how God was using others.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul teaches that differences in our gifting actually draw into dependence on each other and join us into one body: the body of Jesus Christ. And here's where imago dei identity comes full circle. God intends not only to reveal Himself through us individually, but through the relationships we share as well. God, who Himself exists in intimate relationship as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who binds Himself to us through loving covenant, does not intend for His image bearers to live in isolated, self-sufficiency. He intends for our abilities (and our lack of abilities), our weakness and our strengths, to join us together. He intends for us to reflect His nature through the Body of His Son.
When I sat across from Heather that morning, my mind was mostly consumed with just keeping up. But something else was happening too. I had a glimpse and a glimmer that we were participating in something bigger than either one of us. As Heather used her gifting to help me and as I used mine to bless her, we were freed to live as we were meant to live; we were free to live in God's image.
____________________________________________________________________ So what is in your hand? How has God providentially shaped your life to reflect Him in a way that someone else cannot? How does your gifting allow you to serve others? How do your limitations allow others to serve you?