When ever something is constantly on my mind, I feel the need to express it or let some one know about it so any one who reads this gets to listen to me rant from my heart.
I'm in a NewlyWed Sunday school class at church. I know, I know. I'm not exactly a newlywed. My husband and I have been married for 4 years. I feel though that one can never learn enough about how to improve your marriage no matter how great yours is. Plus, my classmates are wonderful and no one seems to mind that I'm there so I'll stay for a while.
This past Sunday, we have a "substitute" since our regular teacher was away. I'm pretty sure the man's name was Don and he may never know it but God sent him to our class that day if for no other reason than to help me clarify some things that have been bothering me for years.
He gave us a list of spiritual gifts along with instructions for an exercise. He told us to figure out what our own spiritual gift was and then see if we could figure out our spouse's gift. Then we discuss with our spouse and see if we were right. My hubby wasn't able to be there but I'm pretty sure I had him pegged anyway.
Having grown up in the church, spending 13 years in a private Christian school and then 2 years at a Christian college, spiritual gift tests were not a new concept to me. It wasn't the first time I'd taken one or seen the list. I already knew what mine was. Not only had I figured it out on my own years ago, but I've had more than a handful of people identify mine after spending time with me.
Before I go on, let me clarify what spiritual gifts are. In the Bible, we are made aware that Christians posses gifts or "different kinds of service... different kinds of working..." (1 Corinthians 12:5&6). Each Christian has something that they are particularly "good" at that God uses them through to promote and further His kingdom. There's a list. For really great explanation and answer to difficult questions concerning these gifts, go to this site: http://bible.org/seriespage/spiritual-gifts-1-corinthians-121-11. I found it very helpful.
The list that we were given in class (in a nutshell) included the following:
1)Administration-being able to understand and plan the immediate and long term goals of a specific unit of the body of Christ and to execute those plans according to God's will.
2)Apostle-a special ability that God gives to certain people that helps them take on the role of leadership over a number of churches in spiritual matters which is recognized by those churches.
3)Discernment-The ability to understand a person or situation for what it really is and recognize its true purpose or agenda. Also, being able to tell if something is of God or of Satan.
4)Evangelism-the gift to readily share the Word of God with nonbelievers in a manner that compels that person to become active Christians.
5)Exhortation-the gift of encouragement. Being able to comfort and counsel other Christians in such a manner that helps them feel consoled and helped.
6)Pastor/Teacher-the gift of being able to take on the role of leadership with a group of people and guide them in God's ways.
7)Prophecy- the ability to receive and communicate special messages from God in a way that is clearly understood by the listeners.
8)Service-the gift of being able to see what needs to be done in order to complete a task and to meet those needs with whatever means possible.
9) Teaching- the gift of being able to communicate and instruct information which is helpful and useful to other Christians.
10)Giving-having the gift of seeking to give with a happy heart to those in need.
11)Healing- the supernatural gift of being able to pray and reclaim health in an ill person through the Spirit of God.
12)Helps-the gift of being able to graciously and willingly drop all you're doing and assist others so that they are free to use their own gifts.
13)Hospitality- being of a mind and heart to always have your home open to others for things like food, lodging, events, etc.
14)Mercy-the gift of showing compassion or sympathy or empathy to others. Having a heart that bears the burden with those suffering from different afflictions, be they spiritual, mental, physical, etc.
Some people may laugh at this because they've very successfully pulled the wool over my eyes but I'll explain how in a little while, but my spiritual gift is Discernment. This gift has been a dangerous one for me. It has not been an easy one to 'weild'. And I'm sure that it never will be.
I've always been able to see things a little deeper or perhaps see behind the curtain, so to speak. I've always been able to see through people or see what drives them or been able to tell when something was wrong and usually, able to pinpoint very quickly what was going on. However, like with any spiritual gift, if you don't use it, you'll "loose" it or it will become dull and you wont be as strong with it as you should be. And I've come to realize lately that with any gift, prayer should come hand in hand.
Being able to see the "core" of people, because I wasn't praying or perhaps didn't even realize at the time that I was seeing something that no one else was, I let it overcome me. There were certain people in school or at work that I just could not figure out why every one adored because I was able to interpret their actions differently. I made friends with individuals that most avoided because I could enjoy why they were so different from others. I saw dark sides of pastors that congregations flocked to and it made me so sick and angry that it finally pushed me over an edge and I turned my back on God completely. That situation was just the straw on the camel's back though. It happened all throughout college and even back into high school and earlier. Instead of seeing and praying, I judged and criticized. I'm not saying at all that I was above every one else just because I could see all their flaws. Quite the opposite. I identified my own flaws even quicker. I knew my own heart even better and I hated the things I saw. I hated who I was. Which, ironically, only pushed me down that path even further. The anger grew and grew and the bitterness ate away at me. For years.
Recently, some one close to me totally pulled a fast one on me. Not just me but my whole family and apparently a friend or two. Its been a snowball slowly rolling downhill. Rolling so slowly that we didn't even realize what was happening until it hit us at the bottom of the hill and knocked the wind out of us. It is constantly on my mind. I have played the situation over and over again in my head trying to figure out when it started and how it started and why it started. And how I had no clue that I was being lied to.
After this past Sunday, I've been wondering even more, since I know what my spiritual gift is, how I was so in the dark about the whole thing. And then it dawned on me. It happened because I wasn't allowing God to show me. I hadn't been seeking His will in my life. I wasn't using my God given gift at all. I haven't "honed my skills" in years. I'm out of practice, so to speak. I didn't see this coming because I didn't have my "spiritual eyes" open. And I feel like a fool. If I had been seeking God's will in my life, maybe I'd have seen it coming and I could have helped save this person from themselves and from hurting the rest of us. Its so hard not to get angry about it and bitter and curse this person, especially since now I see how truly ugly they are inside. It hurts. Every day. And every once in a while, I want to punch this individual right in their face. Rub their nose in their mess. But I know it wont do any good. Being able to see now and to understand, having been praying about it for quite some time now, I am genuinely scared for this person. Because I know the dark road they're on and that its only going to get darker. This person really has no clue what's in store.
I have a lot of work to do. I don't want to misuse my gift again. God gave me a present. Something specifically for me, suited for my personality and mindset. Something that He believes that I can use for His glory. I've got a lot of praying to do and studying of His Word to do before I feel that I can properly use this gift. It scares me, honestly, because I know that damage that I will do to myself and ultimately to others if I use it improperly again. Plus, I need to have it honed and sharpened by the time my daughter starts bringing potential suitors home. I need to know which ones have a hidden agenda and which ones really do care about my daughter. I also need to know which group of guys are going to encourage my son's inevitable racing addiction. Something I'm going to do my best to hinder :)
It's almost amusing to me to have so quickly and randomly understood something that I've been asking for years. I have been wondering for a very long time now, "What went so terribly wrong in my life that caused me to turn my back on everything that I knew to be right and true? What was the catalyst?" I knew the answer all along but I guess I didn't realize that it was even a possibility. All it took was for my regular Sunday school teacher to go on a business trip and his substitute allow himself to be used by God (he even said at the opening of class that he had something else planned for our lesson for weeks but that God suddenly told him to teach on the gifts). Its amazing how God works and how strongly it will impact your life when you're able to acknowledge it.
*If you're interested in finding out what you're own spiritual gifts are, just google "spiritual gift tests" and take a few. Also, if you're interested in receiving more information on anything I've said, write something saying so in the comment box and I will be sure to communicate with your further on the matter.*