I don’t have the gift of making sandwiches, but that’s ok. I will bring the cookies and maybe some celery sticks stuffed with Cheese Whiz…
I am late in life coming to terms with oughts and shoulds, confessing who I am and who I am not, realizing what I am designed to do and what I can freely leave undone. Though it is difficult to teach an aging hound new tricks, it is not impossible, with God. So when the plea went out for generous hearts to make a last-minute luncheon impressive, I quickly texted back before my indecisive, over-thinking oughts and shoulds could kick in: “I’d be glad to bring cookies and some veggies.” And that was it.
I will leave the making of sandwiches to the culinary queens—those ladies that do wonders with cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumbers, and have the savvy to turn cold-cuts and hard-boiled eggs into eye-pleasing, palate-satisfying geometric wonders. This is not my gift.
Oh, I can ‘do’ sandwiches. A mother must resort to these at times. Bread and Jam are great stand-bys when slathered with Carver’s nutritious invention of PB. But I would better glorify God with cookies and Grandma’s cheeze-whiz celery sticks I think.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about oughts and shoulds, and how they fit in with the works we’ve been designed for from the foundation of the world…(Eph.1:4;2:10)
I’m wrestling with writing and watercolor—those pursuits that I’ve always supposed would blossom and flourish with the simple addition of unlimited time. And I’m finding that just as all of creation cannot be accounted for by a chance+time formula, so neither can human creativity. There is a certain something that is innate, God-given and by design. No amount of time spent ‘getting down to it’ will substitute for that.
But even so we whole-heartedly present our bodies, ‘as-is’, for God to direct and energize. And He uses them for His own purposes and glory as He will.
No better illustration comes to mind than the movie Chariots of Fire. I watched this old favorite again with Jim this week. We went on a date to see it back in the 80’s when it first hit American theaters. Its rousing theme never fails to take us back to those days…
The film depicts a sharp contrast of motive in the pursuit of excellence. It is the story of two British athletes that compete in the 1924 Olympics. One man runs for the glory of God. “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” The other runs to prove his own worth. There is little pleasure in it, only compulsion. “I'm forever in pursuit and I don't even know what I am chasing.” Both are world-class athletes. But only one receives an enduring prize.
That fleet Scotsman, Eric Liddell, convinced that to neglect his gift would be to hold God in contempt, pursues Olympic excellence to honor God. (This is the part of his life covered in the film). But having gained fame he leaves it all behind to bury himself (literally) in China as a missionary. He dedicates all He has to God-- his running, his preaching, his teaching, and the actual laying down of his life for fellow-inmates at a Japanese internment camp. (This is the part not seen in the film.)
Through the film Chariots of Fire this life story has been resurrected for our edification. This is what it means to run the race set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.(Heb.12:1,2) This is what it means to present our bodies a living sacrifice, ‘as is’, for whatever God purposes to do with them. (Rom.12:1,2) This is how we bring God pleasure--by being who He has designed us to be.
We have nothing to prove. There is no competition. We run for His glory the race set before us. And He empowers and equips us individually with all that is required to run it. That is all. To do and to die looking unto Jesus with all our life’s energies…this is our calling.
Will it be a ‘creative call’? For some.
Will we be lauded and memorialized? God sees. He remembers. That is enough. If He chooses to use our story to spur others on, so be it. If not, that is His business.
And as I reorient myself to this life of faith and faithfulness, the clamor of compulsive ought’s and should’s fades into irrelevance. My talents or lack thereof are not the point. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. Rom 14:7,8 ESV
But others have said this better than I. Let me close with a quote from a book I finished recently by Pastor Jud Wilhite:
God challenges us to realize we were not created to be made much of, but to make much of Him. At our core, we’re not created for fame. We’re made to make God famous, designed to love Him with all of our heart, without leaving room for would-be idols . And until we realize God rescued us for His fame and not our own, we’ll miss the ultimate purpose for life, which is Him. We are found when we realize our center is outside ourselves and our achievements, in God Himself. (Pursued,p.50)
And now I should probably get out that cookie recipe…
Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! Ps. 143:9-10 ESV
Now may the God of peace…equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Heb.13:20-21 ESV
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. ... All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.1Cor. 12:4-7, 11 ESV
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Phil.2:13 KJV
Wilhite,Jud. Pursued:God's Divine Obsession with You . FaithWords: 2013. Kindle Edition.