"Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith;
[He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching;
He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness.
[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing)... Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord." ... from Romans 12
Way, way back at age 11, I became born again. It was cool and very real. In fact, while walking down the church aisle so to 'get saved', I beheld my first 'vision.' Suddenly, I saw myself inside a dark, dusty cabin and to the right was a door opened wide to sunshine and green trees. In my heart, I knew the brightness and greenery outside the door represented the new life I was now stepping into.
Even at age 53, I've never forgotten what I saw that evening.
Over the next two years I noticed that, at school, I could write essays easily. Even in subjects I barely comprehended (not being very bright, actually), I could 'fake it' and make it appear as though I understood just by wording things certain ways. Beginning around age 13, teachers sometimes read my essays to the class or made me stand and read them. As I got older, they'd chuckle because my words sounded passionate, but that never offended me--it just increased the feeling that writing was my 'super power,' something appearing as my own ability, but which actually (I knew) came from God.
We moved to the Bay Area of California and at age 15 God put it upon the heart of my English teacher to help fine-tune my writing (even though this teacher would have denied God had anything to do with it.... He's always been quite agnostic, though I still pray for him and we're still in touch all these decades later.). He even spent some lunch hours working with me, critiquing assignments he'd given me outside of my regular homework.
And that's when God added another dimension to my writing--He began using my words to encourage the people in my life, my church, especially. Adults, other kids my age, didn't matter--He'd tell me when to mail or hand them notes and what to say on those slips of paper or cards. When I became obedient in that area, He began working with me to become brave enough to speak encouragement out loud.
Now, that's where God really had to work hard. For a lot of years, brick by brick, He had to tear down huge, towering walls built by shyness. Walls designed to keep me trapped inside myself, rather than allow me to become close to other people so to love them, love being the most important thing, after all. Becoming vulnerable to others, to not keep hugging God's goodness to my own heart, took a very, very long time.
But God, being extremely long-suffering, did eventually knock down those bricks, the vast majority, and now, as long as I lean on Him, I can speak encouragement as easily as I can write it and the desire to 'share all good things with all men' is strong.
Anyway, I am so very grateful that God made my gifts plain to me at such a young age. Even though I've had a rather simple, plain sort of life, still! It's somehow always been a rather remarkable one whenever I've obeyed God and used these gifts when and where and how He directs.
And what I love best about the Bible verses, above? It's the ways we're told to use our gifts. You know the "let him give himself to ..." parts. The "... let him do it in simplicity and liberality..", "with zeal and singleness of mind..", "with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness" and the "be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord" parts.
For wow! When we use our God-given gifts/talents in His strength and in those passionate ways, they just have to amount to something amazing and eternally important here and in Heaven. How could they not?
"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." ... I Peter 4:8
Something I've noticed? The happiest times of my life are when I'm most fervently loving others.
Oh! I found this delightful sermon /testimony this morning thanks to Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild. His friend, Charlie Mackesy shared the message that day at church. Loved it. It's 23 minutes long, yet sails by much faster because the stories were so interesting/anointed/humorous.