Every Gift

“Every Gift,” © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2016 Lynn Abbott

Call it what you will…It has been one of those.

You know; I’m sure you’ve experienced it.

It’s that kind of week that you find yourself chanting with Judith Viorst’s protagonist, Alexander, “It has been a no good, terrible, very bad day. I think I’ll move to Australia.”

You’ve faced the kind of seven-day stretch that Murphy and his inopportune law arrive in town, and threaten to take up permanent residence.

It seems nothing you do turns out right.

I even found a way to mess up the coffee maker. That’s right…coffee and grounds all over the counter. Late night cleaning promptly ensued.

So it was. And I sighed as I reminded my college aged son that despite the fact that he is currently on summer break, he still needs his rest.

He cleverly deflected my advice with a question, “You okay, mom?”

Yep, it has been one of those, and, you know I took the bait.

“Actually” I admitted, “It has been a terrible, no good, very bad week. Quite honestly, I can’t seem to do anything right. I even feel like throwing my painting into a dark basement corner. My paintbrush doesn’t like me anymore. And I’m so tired. What difference does my work make in the world? It isn’t as though it has any eternal significance.”

Every Good Gift, copyright 2016, Lynn Abbott Studios with copyright and resized for art websiteI suppose we’ve all been there at some point or another. Surely others have wondered if their work, their everyday tasks, their daily activities make any difference in this world.

And when our everyday leads us along just that–the everyday obstacles, we may sometimes wonder if Solomon had it right. Is it all just “vanity”?

Perhaps, at times, a young teen named David felt the same. The youngest of eight sons, David probably fell low on the totem pole. When chores were handed out, he received the least glamorous assignment: shepherding the family livestock.

Thus, David spent his days out in the fields with deadly dull companions, sheep. And watching sheep graze is nearly as exciting as “watching grass grow.”

Periodically, something would happen to mix things up. Scripture tells us that David had killed both lion and bear in defense of the sheep, (1 Samuel 17:34-37) . But that certainly wasn’t his everyday reality.

Mostly, he stared at sheep. A resourceful young man, he passed the time by composing music. I expect he also practiced his sling shot. In fact, it appears he perfected his skills. But I’m guessing that he didn’t think either talent held any kingdom significance.

Nevertheless, he faithfully discharged his monotonous and sometimes difficult duties. And his life proves something my son’s wise response to my complaints about own work.

My son quietly reminded me, “Mom, this typically Every Good Gift, copyright 2016, Lynn Abbott Studios with copyright and resized for art websitehappens to you before you make a huge breakthrough. You feel frustrated and discouraged now, but that usually happens before you turn a corner. ”

Bullseye! Right on the mark! Even though I lose sight when I’m immersed in one of those days, I recognize God’s wisdom in my son’s words

I recall the psalmist’s words, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning,” (Psalm 30:5).

Undoubtedly, you and I regularly face the “dark before the dawn.”

But sometimes our experience runs more akin to slogging through the mundane while dreaming of a masterpiece. And we grow weary of life at sea level and long to live on the mountaintops.

A young David very likely could relate.  I sometimes forget that his story begins rather humbly.

He initially lived in the shadow of his older brothers. In fact, David’s father, Jesse, didn’t even bother to call David in from the fields when the prophet Samuel dropped by to meet the family.

Even so, David and his mostly overlooked talents unexpectedly accomplished great things for God and Israel (1 Samuel 16:11).

No, David didn’t win American Idol or The Voice. He didn’t even sing in the worship band at the Temple.

But in 1 Samuel 16:14, Scripture records that an evil spirit began to torment Israel’s King Saul.

Saul’s bouts must have been severe for his servants approached their sovereign, saying, “Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them see a Every Good Gift, copyright 2016, Lynn Abbott Studios with copyright and resized for art websiteman who is a skillful player on the harp…he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well,” (1 Samuel 16:16).

David’s reputation as a musician secured him that position. Suddenly, a Shepherd’s simple hobby assumed national importance, (1 Samuel 16:23).

Up to that point, David’s work seemed less valuable than his elder brothers’. David may have compared himself to his brothers and felt discouraged.

It wouldn’t be surprising.

After all, Israel was a fledgling nation fighting for its survival. David’s contemporaries likely valued military prowess over artistic talent. Pragmatism won out.

But one day, David turned an unexpected corner. And God used David’s underappreciated talent for God’s glory.

Just so.

Of course, most modern believers place a premium on worship music.

As a result, we may not fully grasp the enormity of God’s miraculous choice.Every Good Gift, copyright 2016, Lynn Abbott Studios with copyright and resized for art website

No worries. God is more than patient and He understands that I don’t always catch truth the first time ’round.

Fortunately for me, God has graciously recorded another example of a miraculous breakthrough in the young shepherd’s life.

You see, despite his honored role at court, David continued to watch the sheep, (1 Samuel 17:15 ). He was, after all, the youngest son.

For this reason, he juggled his role as the king’s musician with responsibility as a shepherd. Indeed, at first, his “promotion” to court simply increased his work load.

Greater responsibility without any of the perks. Yeah. You know what I’m talkin’ about.

But a shepherd boy gives us hope. God had big plans for David. David was about to make another huge breakthrough.

It all started with a poor man’s weapon… the sling shot. While shepherding, David practiced his skill. His homemade defense helped protect the sheep.

But who would ever imagine a significant future for a young man wielding a slingshot?

Although I’m sure David yearned for more than a simple shepherd’s life, his circumstances promised only more of the same old same old. Kingdom significance certainly seemed to elude him.

His older brothers fought for the nation’s security while David stayed behind to protect a few miserable sheep.

Fortunately for David, Jesse worried about his older boys. And because Jesse was an old man, he sent his youngest to see how the elder sons fared.

Jesse said, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to your brothers…and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them,” (1 Samuel 17:17-18).

While David probably looked forward to catching a glimpse of the battle, he certainly didn’t anticipate what happened next. But you and I know the account well. David’s brothers even accused their baby brother David of attempting to rise above his station, (1 Samuel 17:28).

Even so, that day’s events defined David’s life and secured the future of a nation. God used David’s faith and a rudimentary tool to bring down a defiant giant named Goliath (1 Samuel 17:50).

As they say, “The rest is history.”

A sling shot and a stone. Who woulda guessed it?

Perhaps, at times you have doubted your contributions to this world, to God’s plan.  Have you had one of those days, weeks, months or even years?

Every Good Gift, copyright 2016, Lynn Abbott Studios with copyright and resized for art websiteGod recorded David’s story for people just like you and me.

Indeed, no task is too small; no talent insignificant. God loves to work miracles through the unorthodox, the unexpected.

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me, ” the apostle Paul writes, (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Truly.

God continually chooses “the foolish things of this world to confound the wise,” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

And there’s more. Paul reminds us in his epistle to the Romans that although our gifts vary, we each play an important role in the body of Christ.

“And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly…” Paul writes, (Romans 12:6).

According to the grace given to us… every gift.

I can’t see the future nor can I predict what God will do with the grace He has given me. When I evaluate various gifts, it seems obvious to me that preaching holds more pragmatic application for kingdom purposes than painting has.

But Paul writes, “…according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them [gifts] accordingly,” (Romans 12:6).

Every gift…

Recently, God’s grace in the book of Exodus brought this truth home for me. God obviously gave Moses a tremendous task.

Even a cursory reading of the history of Israel’s exodus undeniably demonstrates the significance of Moses’ leadership. In addition, Moses’ brother Aaron also made a huge impact. Aaron and his sons served as the first priests in the Tabernacle.

Moses and Aaron operated as God’s front men. But as I recently reread God’s blueprint for the tabernacle’s structure as well as His description of its furnishings, I saw that God values all work done for His glory, (Colossians 3:23).

In other words, it doesn’t matter whether I believe my work to be kingdom worthy. The truth is that God sees the bigger picture. He created each of us, and He values every gift (Romans 2:11).

Case in point: in Exodus 28:3, God described the temple’s tailors in this way, “And you shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me.”

TEvery Good Gift, copyright 2016, Lynn Abbott Studios with copyright and resized for art websiteailors…the men who designed the priests’ robes were endowed with a spirit of wisdom and created for the glory of God.

Do you sew? You, too, tailor for God’s glory.

Do you serve? You are Christ’s hands and feet as you give to others, (1 John 3:18).

Do you balance financial books? You guide others in their stewardship of God’s grace.

Do you clean your home or the homes of others? You put the sparkle in the everyday, working “as for the Lord rather than for men,” (Colossians 3:23).

Do you create products with your hands? Are you a crafts-person? I pray that you recognize your call to show forth God’s creative nature. When you create, you reflect your Creator’s image.

Undoubtedly, Yahweh placed a tailor alongside a priest. And He also called fishermen to preach about a once crucified carpenter who has been crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords, (Philippians 2:9-11).

Clearly, our God delights in the juxtaposition of fishing boats and grand Basilicas.

And a young, unknown shepherd played music for a troubled king.

God told Samuel,”…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Yes, Abba looks at the heart; it therefore follows that you and I should do our work “heartily” for Him, (Colossians 3:23).

Every gift exercised… According to the grace given to us.

You and I may not see it today. We may find it impossible to imagine what God has in store for us.

But as we remain faithful in the tasks we’ve been given, we eventually turn that corner.

And when we do, God proves that a simple slingshot can slay a giant.

“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” ~1 Samuel 16:7b

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father,” ~ Colossians 3:17

“And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary,” ~Galatians 6:9