There once was a girl who had lots of gifts. She could sing and tell stories and when she was well rested and filled with coffee and focus, she could be very kind. The girl went about her day looking for opportunities to be helpful and generous and she was those things, except for when she wasn’t, which is a different story altogether. But when all was well and the girl was ready and willing, she made her mark and poured herself into people quietly and made the world a better place in small but meaningful ways. The End.
This is the story that I wanted to tell about my life, but it’s a fairy tale. That’s not how it works, and that fact surprises me most of all. The real story goes something like this…
There once was nothing and from it, God made a girl. He filled her with gifts and he walked with her through experiences that might have made her bitter but he bent and twisted them and turned them into empathy. He planted seeds of hope and He watered them. He gave her people who were kind and people who were not, and she learned valuable lessons from them both.
One day, He gave her a wooden box and asked her to fill it. He asked for her eyes, so that He could direct her vision to truths she needed to read and know and to the beauty that He made. He asked for her ears, so that she could hear the slightest quaver of a voice and identify a brother or sister who needed help. These she reluctantly gave. In return, He gave her bright blue skies and the last few minutes of the second movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that sounded like a place she wanted to go one day. It was worth it.
He asked for her voice so that people could learn about Him through her and this she gave as well. In return, she could feel Him working in it, the singing and the teaching and the speaking and the writing too, and this sensation made her feel no sacrifice whatsoever. He gave that gift back to her in spades. When she gave her voice to Him, it was so much better, clearer, and more beautiful than anything she could have done with it on her own. When she kept it for herself, well, that’s a different story.
He asked for her will and her heart fresh every day and these she often held aside, out of the box, for herself to use and to give wherever she pleased. That course didn’t provide the best results, so as time goes by, she gives them to God more freely, but not every moment, not every day.
He asked for her mind, and she gave Him pieces of it every day, for better or worse. He asked for her past, and she was surprised to know that He wanted it all, even the most embarrassing, shameful stuff. He asked for her to trust Him with her future and this is something she’s working on. Many days, with trembling hands, she places her future hopes and dreams into the box gingerly with lots of tissue paper so they’re not damaged or broken. She often takes them right back as if she could do something better with them than He. She is learning, slowly, to let go.
Every day, God takes this wooden box filled with an amalgamation of whatever she puts in it and He makes sure it goes where it needs to for the day. He will direct her eyes to something she needs to see, her ears to something she needs to hear, and her mind to thoughts she needs to think. He will direct her steps, her actions, and her time if she gives it to Him. All of it is orchestrated, sewn together for her benefit and for the good of those around her. It is quite an operation, and every day it’s different, and there is no end. The end.
When I take the time to put pieces of me into that box for God to use, I never know how it will end up or where they will go, but God does. Taking the time to pack that box correctly and completely might be the most valuable thing I do all day, and though I know this, many days I fall short.
I am learning that submission is key to how it all works together. Whether I have the courage to put the tough stuff in…like worry, will, pride, my own failures, and the future of those I love in that wooden box will tell the story for how it all works out for them and for me, and it’s a daily choice, a daily struggle. One thing I know for sure…
Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”
As I bow my head, close the cover, and tie a ribbon around today, truly, I’m counting on it.
ps-for those who might be interested, listen from 7:50 to the end to hear the Beethoven piece I referenced… it’s what I hope to hear when I meet God one day, when all of my gifts have (finally) been given away