As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV
"I get it, Janet! That's why I'm crying...I get it!"
So ended a recent phone conversation with my sister-in-law Patty. What did Patty get, you ask? Let me back the story up to the beginning.
Early this past summer, a long time friend of Patty's was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis for Ellen was not good from the start. But Ellen went through some rounds of chemo and other treatments.
In the meantime, not long after learning about Ellen's diagnosis, Patty began hearing the still, small voice of her Shepherd (John 10:27):
"I want you to make Ellen a quilt. I'll tell you how to put it together. And I want you to give her a message from Me."
So Patty (who by the way is an incredible seamstress and works at a quilt shop) set out to choose the fabric and make it according to the promptings of the Spirit. The whole time, Patty knew she was God's instrument, His messenger.
Later in the summer, my husband & I stayed with Patty and my brother Conrad. It was then that she told me the story and showed me the almost-completed quilt.
The quilt was incredibly beautiful (see below). In fact, it almost took my breath away! Patty's choices of fabric, colors, design could only have been done by inspiration coupled with gifting.
And the most wonderful thing -- God had a message for Ellen. And the Lord's message was embedded in the quilt itself -- a heart at each edge spoke of LOVE, HOPE, FAITH, COURAGE! The quilt was to be a reminder that He was wrapping his arms around her and would be with her always.
A few weeks ago came my phone call from Patty. She told me the rest of Ellen's story.
Patty had finished the quilt, delivered God's message, and prayed. Patty wasn't sure if Ellen understood the message she had delivered. But when she heard that Ellen wanted the quilt buried with her, Patty knew she had understood.
Several weeks passed. Then came the news...
Ellen had gone home to her loving God. She had lost her battle with cancer, but she found the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:42-46). Now she was wrapped in the real, loving arms of God...she no longer needed the quilt.
And Patty was in tears...why?
She got it...that the resurrected, living Lord Christ lives within her, His child. The Lord had reached out and loved her dying friend Ellen through her...as Patty, the gifted seamstress and outgoing friend that she is. All she had to be was willing.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves... 2 Cor 4:7 NASB
The same is true for us, dear brothers & sisters in Christ. The living Lord lives His life through us, as us, to manifest Himself to the world.
But you may say, "I'm not gifted like Patty or like ______________! I'm broken! I've had a rough background! I'm no asset to God...in fact, I'm a liability! All I seem to do is mess up, even though my heart is to honor my Lord." And on and on...
Listen to what author Dan Stone says:
As earthen vessels, we are a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, appetites, interests, and energies. The bottom line is that we're always operating from what a friend of mine calls the Holy Wink: to others, it looks like us, but we know it's Christ in us. We are at peace in our spirit union with God, knowing that our outer humanity is God's perfect instrument. It is the means by which God touches the world.
Thank God for your humanity. Thank God for your parents, even for the difficult things you inherited from them. God used them to make you the perfect instrument you are. Thank God for your warts. Praise God for them, because He's going to make them a blessing in someone else's life. Take back your humanity as the dwelling place of the Most High God. Make peace with you...
Let it dawn on you that you are no longer a liability to God. You are God's wonderful and beautiful and necessary asset. You are the vessel by which the world drinks. You are the means by which the world sees the love and life of God. The Rest of the Gospel, p. 118
The Lord Christ lives through us; He loves through us; He serves through us...in the unique us He made each of us to be. We are His instruments, His messengers to each other and to the world. Whatever your personality, your background, your gifting...just say "Yes" to Him, listen for His voice, and follow.
Perhaps you would like to pray this at the dawn of each new day:
Lord, As I begin this day, and as I continue throughout the day, I invite you to walk around in my body, love with my heart, speak with my lips, and think with my mind. I thank you that you promised to do greater things through me than you did when you were here on earth. John 14:12-14 By faith, I acknowledge your greatness, your power, and your authority in my life, and I invite you to do anything you wish in and through me today. Amen.
We are His Hands White Heart
We are His handsWe are His feetWe are His peopleChildren of the LordWe share the hopeWe share the dreamBelievers in JesusChildren of the King
His Spirit lives within usFlowing like a riverFilling us with strengthSo that we can reach out for our brotherHelp one another
Some of us build, some are teachersSome can sing like angelsBut all of us can loveLike He loved, pure and simpleSo warm and gentle