"To each person has been given the ability to display the Spirit for the common good. To one has been given a message of wisdom by the Spirit; to another the ability to speak with knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit; to another miraculous results; to another prophecy; to another the ability to distinguish between spirits; to another various kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all these results and gives what he wants to each person." (1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ISV)
Max Lucado uses the Message paraphrase of this scripture in his book entitled Cure For The Common Life; Living In Your Sweet Spot.
At least, the first verse, "Each person is given something to do that shows who God is…." And the answer to what that 'something' is, Lucado says, is as simple as looking at the one thing, the one skill…..the 'tools' if you will….that you have been equipped with and you will find that one thing that is…..
As it says in Matthew 25:15, we are to pursue the purpose God gave us with "each one's ability…" And burying it underneath the collection of wounds, calluses and scars doesn't make it any less noticeable, either to yourself or to those around you…….Lucado says this uniqueness exists at the "intersection of your affections and successes." But too often, if we stray away from the direction in which our strengths, affections and desires lie……we never reach the intersection of success and therefore lie dormant in a sea of dormant souls…..waiting for an eternal life that is ours for the taking now, even as we live in the physical world of this place. We covet other's abilities, successes or even ease of living instead of seeking out that unique qualifier that marks our spot, our position and our destiny under the eternal story of the Master Author…….some never even get to the place where they would recognize the penmanship of God let alone find themselves living in the sweet spot of His purposes.
Lucado uses a story about George Washington Carver who, among other things, was the inventor of the multitude of usage we have from that oddly shaped fruit called the peanut. I was stunned when I had read it because it speaks so much about the last few days and how my escalation of fear and worry has almost obliterated my journey toward my own 'sweet spot.'
"Oh, Mister Creator," he cried out, "why did you make this universe?"
And the Creator answered, "You want to know too much for that little mind of yours. Ask Me something more your size."
So I said, "Dear Mister Creator, tell me what man was made for."
Again He spoke to me and said, "Little man, you are still asking for more than you can handle. Cut down the extent of your request and improve the intent."
Then I asked my last question. "Mister Creator, why did you make the peanut?"
"That's better," the Lord said.
And He gave me a handful of peanuts and went back with me to the laboratory and together we got to work."
In all, as Lucado points out, George Washington Carver discovered over three hundred uses for the peanut…..many of which are still in wide-spread use today. What struck me in this retelling of Carver's desire to uncover the secrets of the peanut was how God told him to 'boil it down' to something that he could handle, rather than blowing his mind with something he could not. So much of my journey to this season has been built very much like the conversation was retold between Carver and God…..
It's come down to something simple……
Am I going to continue to believe the packaging that someone else has sold me or am I going to go out and seek the original intention that I was equipped with before the time of my birth…….am I going to keep asking too complex of an question or will I simplify…………and start unlocking the mysteries of my design side by side with God……under His direction??
I remember what one of the Bowery team said as we walked the streets of New York on our day off……after performing the morning chapel service………."Jim, we have to get you preaching more…."
To unlock that uniqueness and purpose that God set forth when He designed me, I have to break the hard shell that I have been living in……….and dare to lie exposed upon the designer's table so that He can articulate what He has made……
Thankfully, during this moment between where I have released my grip on my life and where I begin to fly….where the fear threatens to overwhelm me and desperation demands I scramble to reattach myself to my safety net……there lies a wonderful, beautiful and strong-willed woman who still beckons me into realizing God's purpose for me that has been cemented into my bones from the moment I was born…..
Together, under the roof of the Moody Theological Seminary, God and I will take these handful of peanuts that are my skills, my passions and my life experiences and work together to help me realize the powerful applications of their development……..