Once upon a time, in the land of Gifted, lived some very miserable people. They trudged through the streets of Gifted every day carrying huge burdens on their backs. A visitor to Gifted once asked why the people of Gifted carried these heavy burdens with them day after day. The answer was surprising. The visitor was told that the townspeople were not carrying burdens but gifts from their King.
The visitor was shocked by this answer. He had to know more, so he followed a particular citizen to his home so he could ask him more questions. The townsperson set aside his burden/gift and began to explain.
It seems that as each person became a citizen of Gifted, the King bestowed upon him or her a gift picked especially for that individual. The gift was for the improvement of the town.
(“…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” Ephesians 4:12)
But when the visitor looked around, what he mostly saw were dilapidated, rundown buildings. The visitor asked, “If these gifts are as important as you say, why haven’t you opened them and used them?”
“Oh, we know better than that,” said the citizen with a grim shake of his head. “Citizens who got here before us opened their gifts and, well, let’s just say, ‘it wasn’t pretty.’”
“I find that hard to believe, citizen. How can opening the gift and using it for its purpose be a bad thing?”
“See for yourself. The older district is just a few streets over.”
The visitor thanked the citizen and started on his way. As he walked he was saddened by the number of empty buildings and homes. It seemed odd that a town in which every new citizen received a personally chosen gift from the King wasn’t seeing more people moving in than moving out.
Finally the visitor came to the older part of town. He could immediately see a difference in that everyone was working hard and using his or her gift…and yet, the buildings didn’t look any better maintained and the citizens seemed even more miserable than the ones in the first neighborhood.
The visitor looked around him. The first thing he saw was a citizen trying to dig a furrow for his seeds with a pencil. Another citizen was trying to hammer a nail with a shovel. Another person was trying to “mow” the lawn with butcher knife.
As the citizens worked, the visitor could hear them talking to one another. One person would say, “Why don’t you have that lawn mown yet? You’ve been working on it for days. You are so lazy!”
I’m not lazy; it’s just so hard mowing with this butcher knife, I wish the King had given me a lawn mower! I mean, what am I supposed to do with this knife? Besides, you’re not making much progress on that chair you’re building. What’s your excuse?”
“I’m not going to make any excuses. I’m just working carefully so that everything’s perfect.”
“Perfect?! Ha! How do you figure? Nobody’s ever going to be able to sit in that chair until you drive those nails in the rest of the way.”
“Well, it is really hard to drive nails with this shovel. I sure thought the King would have given me a hammer if he wanted me to build furniture.”
The third citizen sat back in his garden and sighed, “Well, you both are better off than I am. I have to plant a whole garden with this silly pencil!”
The visitor couldn’t stay quiet another second. He stepped a bit closer and cleared his throat. “Ahem. I don’t mean to intrude, but I couldn’t help hearing you talking just now and I had a thought. Sir, you with the butcher knife, maybe you could be a chef instead of a lawn keeper? And why don’t you with the shovel dig the furrows and plant the seeds. And you, there with the pencil, you should be writing about your city and the advantages of living here, not trying to garden with a pencil.
All three citizens stopped their work for a moment and looked pityingly at that visitor, shaking their heads slowly.
“You don’t understand, visitor. These are the things we’ve chosen to do. We can’t help it if our gifts don’t match. We’ve got a job to do!”
(“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way”1 Corinthians 12:28-31)
The visitor couldn’t believe his ears! “I don’t mean to pry, but if the King gave you a shovel, maybe you should be working in the garden. Maybe the King gave you the tool for the job you should be doing.”
“That is not going to happen. I want to be a carpenter and that’s what I’m going to be.”
The visitor couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had to ask, “But if the King is gracious enough to give you these gifts, don’t you think you should use them in the way they were intended? What if you’d be a better gardener than you are a carpenter?”
“Well, I guess we’ll never know, because the King won’t give me a hammer. So I have to struggle along trying to drive nails with this shovel. If the King would give me the right tools, I could do brilliant work for him.”
The visitor realized that these men were determined to do things their own way, so he sadly shook his head and walked away.
I hate to admit that I spent a whole bunch of years like the citizens of Gifted. I couldn’t see the gifts God had given me because they weren’t the gifts I wanted. I pouted and stomped my feet and demanded that God give me the gift I wanted …right then! Thankfully, for me and for all of us who want what we want when we want it, God waits us out, and when we’re finally done pitching our little fit, He’ll lovingly remind us of the better things He has in store for us, if we’ll give Him control of our lives.
We have a work to do for God. We need to be spreading the good news that Jesus is coming to take us home as quickly as possible so that we can go home soon.
“‘Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant’… After stating that though the Spirit is one it has diversities of operation, and explaining what those diversities are, he introduces the figure of the human body, with its various members, to show how the church is constituted with its different offices and gifts. And as the body has its various members, each having its particular office to fill, and all working together in unity of purpose to constitute one harmonious whole, so the Spirit was to operate through various channels in the church to constitute a perfect religious body.”1
You and I are gifted, not as we wish, but as God needs, to profit His church.
- E.G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 24 ↩