I have an unusual entry in my Top 10 list of favorite Christmas movies. Growing up, during the insufferably lengthy holiday break, my mom tried to snatch a moment of sanity by popping in a VHS of the luminous masterpiece that is the BBC’s version of “The Chronicles of Narnia.” My siblings and I merrily binged on the B- grade videos, captivated by the monstrously sized animal costumes and enthralled with the child actors’ British accents and whiny line reads.
One of the memorable scenes in the first movie, “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” is when Father Christmas makes a surprise appearance and delivers gifts to the children – to Peter, a shield and sword; to Susan, a bow and horn; to Lucy, a dagger and bottle of healing cordial. The St. Nicholas doppelganger explains that the presents “… are tools not toys. The time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well.”
While Peter and Susan use their tools/weapons shortly afterwards, Lucy doesn’t implement her potion until much later in the storyline, right after the battle, when she dispenses the remedy to save her other brother, Edmund. The youngest character – and inarguably, most loyal believer in the Lion/Redeemer Aslan – has to wait through most of the plot to use her incredible gift of healing.
There’s a gift I had to wait many Christmases to impart. I knew it was an ability I possessed – a longing God placed in my heart – I just lacked the opportunity to carry it out because I could not conceive or carry a child.
God did what He does, in providing mercies beyond what we ask or deserve, and blessed me with two loud, energetic boys that allow me to fulfill the gift of motherhood and engage my skills of nurturing, teaching, and cleaning all manner of messes.
Now, the tension between which gifts I want to give and which gifts I can give is different. Being a mom is gratifying and challenging and joy-bringing and humbling, and it also takes a lot of time. Sometimes I wish I could do more, cultivate other talents – specifically, writing. But my parenting style and annoyance threshold are such that I can’t ignore the chaos long enough to concentrate at the computer. So I can’t do more; I can’t give more.
And honestly, it can be frustrating. Buried talents bear no fruit.
Others might understand these feelings of gift neglect. I know individuals who are talented speakers, teachers, and medical professionals who cannot readily implement these skills because they’re caring for their families, and tending to sick loved ones, and guiding important ministries – doing hard and good things to serve others at the cost of letting certain gifts lie dormant.
This holding back can make you discouraged, upset that your current commitments are stifling your other abilities … making you ashamed for feeling discontent about your present acts of service … making you become disillusioned with the idea of who you thought God created you to be … making your work now seem labored, overwrought from all the overanalyzing you’ve done about this whole gift thing. Or maybe that’s just me.
Maybe God is simply stashing away our gifts to mature us, or to teach us some truth during our wait, or to preserve them until the exact moment someone needs saving, as in the case of Lucy and her cordial.
Regardless of the reasons for His timing, we know from God’s Word that gifts should be used for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7) and for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). Sure, we can find joy in our jam, but the main purpose for any special abilities God grants us isn’t our personal gratification. They’re for the edification of others and the exaltation of His name (1 Peter 4:10-11).
There’s encouragement to be gained when we recognize the ultimate goals for our gifts and focus on the truth about God’s character and our worth in Him.
Be patient. God is honing that beautiful bent of yours – the one He gave you through the overflow of His abundant goodness – and He will not fail His purposes for it, and for you.
Live now. Each day is full of new mercies and opportunities to draw on the Lord’s strength and diffuse His blessings to others through whatever services your hands find to supply.
Walk by faith. The Spirit gives gifts as He wills according to His manifold grace. We can live assured that His love poured out to us for others will not be wasted.
We can bear our gifts well regardless of whether or not we can yield them immediately. All we must do is trust God to let us use them when and how He wants and take the present step of obedience glorifying Him as the Giver of life everlasting.
3 thoughts on “When you can’t use a gift because you’re giving another”
So true! We must trust in God’s timing.
Jennifer, I recently got back to playing guitar and singing; something I put away for 20 yrs! I feel alive again after the sacrifice of motherhood, I’m doing something for me and I feel alive again in a sense. I had to let you know, I so relate to this!
Julie, that’s wonderful you’ve gotten back into playing guitar! I love being a mother and enjoy it, AND also enjoy other pursuits that I look forward to doing more when the kids are a little older. Thanks for the encouragement and perspective!