By Beth Demme
Guess what? You have a gift.
Truly. You have a gift.
Actually, you ARE a gift.
You have been uniquely created by God to be … YOU.
You are the VERY BEST you God has ever created.
In fact, God is so pleased with how great you’ve turned out, that God will never again make another you.
In making you uniquely you, God has equipped you with gifts and talents. (1 Corinthians 12)
Sometimes we let fear keep us from using those gifts and talents.
We are afraid we’ll get “called” to do something huge and hard. We’re afraid God will make our life uncomfortable by sending us to Africa to be a missionary, or worse, compel us to work with [insert your least favorite ministry here: toddlers, middle schoolers, nursing home residents, homeless people, etc.].
Even if fear is common, it doesn’t have to stop us.
As a pastor once told me, “the opposite of faith is not doubt—the opposite of faith is fear.”
We can take that fear directly to God. One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” We can do this because God’s “perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
In Isaiah 41:10, God says:
Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When I feel afraid, it helps to remember that God is with me.
Asking “what can God do?” leads me to a different answer than asking “what can I do?”.
I have a lot more faith in God than I do in myself.
Maybe the main reason we don’t use our gifts is a fear that we aren’t good enough or we don’t have enough skill.
Ironically, we are afraid we don’t have enough to offer God even though we believe God created everything ex nihilo, from nothing. (Genesis 1)
At the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the disciples felt they didn’t have enough, but Jesus created abundance from the little they offered.
Very few stories are shared in all four Gospel accounts, but this is one of them. Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran pastor in Colorado, uses Matthew’s version to illustrate a point about ex nihilo creation.
When Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” The disciples replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.”
Jesus tells the disciples to feed the people and they reply, “we have nothing” to give them.
I don’t know about you, but I feel that way sometimes— I have nothing to give.
But we know how The Feeding of the Five Thousand ends, right? There was more than enough:
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:19-20)
God created an abundance from what the disciples described as nothing.
As Pastor Nadia says, “’nothing’ is God’s favorite material to work with. God looks on what we dismiss as nothing, insignificant, or worthless, and says, ‘Ha! Now that I can do something with.’”
It’s interesting the loaves multiplied after leaving Jesus’s hands. Maybe it’s a subtle way of reminding us that our own gifts are multiplied when we use them.
We all have something to offer. We all have something God can use.
We might be afraid to use our gifts, but instead of letting fear stop us, we can remember that we are enough because God is with us.
We might think we have nothing to offer, but that’s okay — “nothing” is God’s favorite material to work with.
What are your gifts? Is it scary to say out loud what your gifts are? Have you experienced God using your “nothing”? I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment, send me an e-mail, or find me on Facebook.
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