Repost from Facebook Notes October 18, 2015
This Sunday is Laity Sunday in the Methodist Church. I’ve come to understand that this looks different in every church, and in the mind of every pastor. It’s also become clear that this Sunday for our little church is not going to plan. Well, at least not the plan that was being set in motion before a sudden trip last week for a funeral. I had thought I’d be writing a bit about that tonight, or last night actually. But, as I sat sorting through some things in my mind for tomorrow, I realized it was a different message than beginnings and endings that came to the surface. God was instead once again reminding me that nothing happens outside of His plans. I don’t know how that will play out tomorrow morning, but I am suddenly filled with a sense of overwhelming excitement to see. And I’d like to share what brought me to that excitement from the sense of fuzziness broken by periodic stomach flips that has plagued my whole house it seems today.
Everyone went to bed, and my boys went to their Dad’s. I had turned off the show we were watching before they left, and tried to switch over to practicing the music for tomorrow. They are songs I know well , and I could not really bring myself to engage in practice the way I usually do. Something else was calling. It is a time of turmoil. I have felt it building since early this week, which is always a little frustrating because I can feel the storms coming, but it takes longer to pinpoint the pieces of those storms. I knew some of it had to do with meetings I have missed while I was out of town. I knew some of it had to do with the sermon I was supposed to be writing for tomorrow. I knew some of it had to do with other nudges and tugs that have been coming through the last month or more. But, the sense of disturbance, of change, was undefined and inexorable. I’ve learned what that is over these last years. I know it is God moving. It is always God moving. But, knowing that does not always stop the sense of trepidation that sometimes crashes over me in a wave. Because it signals change, and I have grown wary of those moments. They have so much potential for the amazing, and so much potential for disaster.
As I sat here tonight, I was led to do what I have often done in the past when I feel change coming but cannot quite see where it’s going or what I need to do. I sat down to do my Spiritual Gifts inventory. I typically use the one that goes with Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts by Charles V. Bryant. Of the ones I’ve run across in various training and small groups, this is the one I have found to be most in depth and most helpful for what I use it for. I don’t necessarily need an inventory to tell me what my top Gifts tend to be. They haven’t changed since the first time I took this particular inventory more than three years ago, or on any of the other inventories I’ve taken that include prophecy as a gift. But, inventories I have discovered are useful tools for direction when I am feeling a little lost. We all have access to quite a number of astonishing Gifts from God, and Scripture tells us that He distributes them according to His purpose. It also tells us they can grow. I have seen in my own experience they can also diminish. My compassion and hospitality for instance bounce up and down like a ping-pong ball.
In the past I began to realize there was a reason and a pattern to this. At times when I need to do things I would never dream of doing, God equips me to do them. When I no longer need to do them, whatever Gift raised up to accomplish the task usually drops back down, back into the background of basic Christian behavior. So, inventories can often help give me an inkling of what’s coming when I can feel change but cannot yet see the shape of it. Tonight, I felt led to pray hard for God to take me out of the way, and to reveal something of what is coming on like a freight train at the moment. And I cried.
I usually have several things competing for the top line of Gifts, the highest “score” for lack of a better term. I think the most I’ve ever had on that top line has been six, with four in the line below it. I looked at my results tonight, and there are 11, including at least four I have never seen that high, one of which has never even made it into the top three in numbers. I could question if I was somehow weighting my answers, except I know I wasn’t, because there were a couple I actually went back and knocked the numbers down a peg because my first response was sort of a knee jerk reaction from things I used to be good at or like to do that are no longer as important or easy for me. I cried because the picture those 11 Gifts paint is a little bleak.
I had left my other music running while I did that, and it was still playing along when I was done. Battle, Martyr, Service, Suffering. Faith, oh thank You Father, for faith. Thank You Father for humor and miracles rising where they never have before. Because as I listened to the music I have grown to love, my little playlist that I seldom get all the way through anymore, the music that came up was songs I have not heard in a while. This Is Amazing Grace, You Are I Am, I Know You’re There. As God so often does, He sent me a ringing, joyous, hands in the air, dancing and singing as loud as I can, reminder of just who He is. He rounded it out with Love Will Have the Final Word before sending me to my keyboard before I go to bed tonight.
Those Gifts, are well, gifts. All those ones that are always there, and all those ones He has for some reason raised up high, are His equipping, to let me participate in some way in bringing Him glory. Better yet, whatever it is that is coming, I know somethings about how that all works, at least when I get out of His way. He will give me joy, it is the fruit of His Spirit from whence His Gifts come. He will give me strength and be my shield. He will give me comfort. He will give me work and His words to speak no matter the situation. He is I AM, the one who conquers giants, calls out kings and walks through fire. I am simply a humble vessel, meant to let Holy Spirit flow through and out into the world, and blessed to be a witness to His amazing power and grace. What a grand gift! What a glorious thought!
Though intercessory prayer is not way up there among my Gifts, I offer this tonight for all of us going in to church tomorrow morning, whether it is a Methodist service celebrating Laity Sunday, or another of God’s houses. Father God, creator of all things, bestower of all gifts great and small, provider of all things, may Holy Spirit pour forth among Your children, in glory, power and grace. Let Him rip through the chains of fear, hurt, apathy and any other chain that binds us. Let the Living Water and the Holy Fire course through the hearts of every one of Your children around the globe. Raise us up, and let Your mighty will be done. Let us give You glory, stepping boldly into Your purpose for each of us. Help us Holy Spirit to let go of all we are, all we have, all the world tells us we should be, and be swept clean and pure, be refined as gold, and stand as Your beacon to all those You would call to You. In the Name of Christ the King of all Kings, by the power of Holy Spirit our comfort and giver of Gifts, we ask boldly with humble hearts Father. Amen.
Pray always, and glorify the Lord.