Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Work the Raw Materials

I regularly sit to discuss various forms of this question: "What does God want me to do with my life?" We talk through this sometimes over the course of a semester, semesters, or years. I love guiding and helping others through this time of searching; it seems to come with the territory as a campus minister. Dan Miller has been a good resource for me in these conversations for some time.

Today's post was a little longer than normal, but contained some great perspective on the raw materials called spiritual gifts. Here is an excerpt:
God’s gifts are raw materials, not finished products. Think about the most revered sacrament in the church – Holy Communion. Does God give us bread and wine? Where can you find those in nature? You can’t. God makes wheat, He doesn’t make bread. He makes grapes – not wine. But when we take the raw materials God gives us, we can add our work and give them back to him as an offering.
And I remember reading in the most popular “self-help” book available: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” ( 2 Thes. 3:10)
This is a picture of the spiritual life for each of us. Every one of you has special gifts – singing, writing, gardening, art, computer skills, selling abilities, teaching others, encouraging others – but whatever our gift is – it’s a raw product. It has limited value until we apply the discipline necessary to make it useful to ourselves and others.
We get nothing but rough materials – life doesn’t hand us the finished product. Life may even bring us obstacles or heartache along the way. But ultimately, our lives are the bread that we prepare. Our lives are what those around us see as the result of what we’ve done with those raw materials.
So the issue is balance – is it all us, NO. Is it all God, NO. We develop the raw products of what God has given us. ...
I recently read a couple books by Franciscan priest Richard Rohr. He comments on how to joyfully surrender ourselves to God, and how to pray: "Asking for something from God does not mean talking God into it; it means an awakening of the gift within ourselves."
I really like how he encourages us to work to enhance the gifts God has given us. Instead of waiting for lunch to be plopped down right in front of us, we can enjoy the same end (lunch) with more perspective, maturity, and transformation having made it ourselves.

We are more fully alive having taken the gifts God has given us and working to make the heavenly banquet the best it can be! It would certainly be great to have "God open all the doors, creating the perfect (and clear) path" for our lives! Yet, we would jeopardize the incredibly important process that can lead to an amazing feast!

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