It’s time to unwrap your gifts…

Blue elegant gift boxToday was one of those spontaneous cleaning days. You know when the toys and the junk  and the mess is out of control and you’re either going to LOSE YOUR MIND, or just throw it all away? So I’m tossing stuff into goodwill/garbage bags and kids are crying like “But mooooom we LOOOVE those toys!” and I’m like “You don’t take care of them and you never even play with them!!” And that’s when it hit me. It’s time to unwrap my gifts.

You see in this season of rest and abiding and solitude with the Lord, there’s been a lot of conversation about gifts and calling. And it usually ends up coming back to me throwing a fit that sounds something like “But what will people think? What if its not good enough? That gift isn’t even important! Does it really matter??”

Now let me pause for a moment, because there is absolutely a time and season for us to nestle in close to the Lord and let Him heal our wounds and affirm our identity. There are seasons of searching and wilderness and healing and rest. The Lord is in them ALL. And its important for us to walk through each season obediently while He speaks all the truth and grace that needs to be worked out in our souls. But at a certain point, when He has affirmed our identity, ministered truth, healed our wounds, and those seasons are ending and we’re transitioning to the “next” and the Lord whispers “follow me, let’s move on” and I’m STILL camped out on the threshold- that is now what we call a “temper tantrum.” If you’re in a place of rest, abiding, healing, searching-be there! Embrace it! Embrace every blessed, uncomfortable moment of it. Because there is beauty and glory in every ounce of it! But at a certain point, when you hear your creator whispering for you to step back out into His great big world again…when you know its time to leave the nest and soar…when He’s inviting you to explore and experiment and truly be who He created you to be…when He invites you to armor up and be a warrior that pushes the Kingdom of God forward…don’t make the mistake I did and doubt every truth He spoke to you in your hidden season.

We lean into those moments of rest and solitude with Him, because it is critical that we know WHOSE we are. Knowing whose we are is what then leads to knowing WHO we are. And when we know who we are, we discover WHY we’re here. And when we know why we’re here, its time to act.

So-what are your gifts, are how are you using them?

In my OCD-driven clean-up fit today, I heard myself chastising my kids for not taking care of or even playing with their toys. And I heard the Lord gently ask- “But what are you doing with the gifts I gave you? Have you opened them? Explored them? Embraced them? USED them?” And the truth is, I haven’t. Not to the extent that I should. And its not because the Lord hasn’t given me permission or released me to-but its because I doubt. I doubt their worth, I doubt my ability, I fear how using my gifts might seem to others. I’m listening to the lies instead of the voice of my good Father.

You see, you were created with a PURPOSE. Everything about you is intentional. Nothing is a mistake or accident, or even coincidence. Every passion, talent, interest, ability, gift-it’s all by design. And it all serves the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God. What the Lord does in us, its for us. He wants you healed, whole, transformed, secure in your relationship with and identity in Him. But there is also a purpose for His work in your life that reaches BEYOND your life. This is what He has been challenging me with for quite some time now.

The Kingdom of God is not advanced by buildings or programs or initiatives. It is advanced when the PEOPLE of God speak and live the TRUTH of God to the world around them. Everything else we create-the programs, activities, buildings-these all assist in facilitating the work of God, but they cannot sustain the advancing of the Kingdom of God without you. The Kingdom of God is only advanced when His people stand up, speak out, and use their gifts.

Imagine if Jesus’ disciples had not continued his work. If they had doubted their voice or not used their gifts. Imagine if the Apostle Paul had not written his letters to the churches  or traveled to the cities or preached and lived the truth of God’s word. The Kingdom of God is advanced only if and when we open our mouths and use our gifts-whatever they may be, season to season, as the Lord leads.

There will be voices that tell you that you aren’t good enough.
That you aren’t ready.
That your gifts don’t really matter.
That you aren’t experienced enough.
That you’re too broken, you made too many mistakes.
That you’re just being prideful and self-serving.
That you haven’t paid your dues yet.
That you aren’t really making a difference if your platform isn’t “this” big.
That its not valid if you aren’t making money from it or you don’t have a title.

Some of these voices may even be your own. But you can rest assured that these are lies intended to distract from the GOOD WORK that YOU, yes my friend-YOU-have been called to.

As I spent time with the Lord today talking about what gifts He’s given me, and what He wants me to do with them, and why it really matters at all, He reminded me of some of my good friends…

Of Melody, who has the gift of hospitality and atmosphere. Yes “atmosphere” is a gift. Melody creates beautiful spaces. She opens her home and her heart, and it doesn’t matter if its 5 or 50 or 500 people-she creates spaces where everyone feels welcome and at peace. She knows little details like people’s favorite colors, and their love language. She plans parties and gatherings and she brings people together. At Friendsgiving she makes you write down what you’re thankful for, and at someone’s birthday she asks you to speak or write (based on their love language!) a word of love and encouragement. She forces you into community and vulnerability and truth and relationship-and she makes us ALL better because of it.

Of Meghan, who is a homeschooling mother of 5 (almost 6!) beautiful children. She is a kingdom warrior who invests herself fully into raising more warriors for the kingdom. She is populating this earth with individuals who will know their worth and value, who will embrace their gifts, and who will be world-changers because she trained and discipled them to be just that. She shares her wisdom and her heart and her life with anyone who asks. And she stands bold and strong in her kingdom purpose.

Of Yasmina who did the work of healing, and who continues to do so. Who followed the dream that God gave her and created a space for women to be discipled in their identity in Christ. Who pushes forward unapologetically with her voice, her leadership, her vision, and her passion to see others set free.

Of Melissa, a spine surgeon (1 of only about 100 in the US) who was listed as 1 of the top “38 female spine surgeons leaders to know” by Becker’s Spine Review. She literally touches, corrects, and heals a place in her patent’s body that none other than God himself has ever seen!

Of Shanicka, who not only serves others as they pursue their God-given gifts, but also pours her life into equipping and inspiring women and mothers to fully embrace their role and RUN into what God has for them! She addresses, relates to, and meets women in their most vulnerable and toughest MOMents-and she speaks truth that transforms lives.

What if these individuals-and so many other men and women like them, had not leaned into their gifts and followed their passions? There are countless lives that would not be who they are today, if these brave souls had not stood boldly in their identity. I myself would not be who I am today, if they had not used their voices, their gifts, their dreams.

As I wrestled through my own fears and doubt with the Lord, He reminded me of two scriptures that transformed my perspective.

First, in 1 Peter 3:15 we are reminded to “…be ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Are you living a life that raises questions? Is anyone asking why you’re different? And if so, are you prepared to use your gifts-your leadership, your speaking, your writing, your hospitality, your service…to explain to others about the hope that is in you?

And second, 2 Timothy 4:2 which tells us to “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season…”

To “preach the word” means to proclaim openly with authority. And we are instructed to do this in season and out of season-when the opportunity comes and when it is lacking.

We aren’t called to use our gifts, use our voice, and advance the Kingdom only when its convenient. Or when it feels right. Or when we think we’re good enough. We are called to use our gifts at all times! When it makes sense, and when it doesn’t. Whether its an audience of 1 or 1,000. Because we are here-healed, whole, transformed-for one purpose only. To speak truth, to make disciples, and to continue the works of Jesus on this earth.

Every time you open your mouth, write your words, love your children, honor your spouse, open your home, travel to new cities, serve your neighbor, fight for the justice and freedom of the poor and oppressed, plant a new church…use the gifts God has given you to the fullest capacity, season to season, as He leads-you are changing the world by advancing the Kingdom of God, one act of obedience at a time.

Friends, do not fear. Do not doubt.
You have been gifted.
You have been called.
You were intentionally designed with great purpose. That purpose is not defined by numbers or title or income.
Whether you are called to street, or nation. To 1 or 1,000,000.
You are called. And therefore you are equipped.
You have great value and worth. You are loved.
And while you will continue to learn, grow, make mistakes, be redeemed, and be transformed-make no mistake about the fact that you have been called for such a time as this.

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