I read an excellent blog post this morning by none other than one of my favorite authors, Emily P. Freeman (one of the three authors I can't stop talking about). She wrote about our incessant, persistent, ridiculously annoying need to know if we will be okay. She didn't put it exactly like that, but that's what it is. All of us have a desire to know if we will have what we need in order to get through the day. Except most of us aren't super concerned about just today. We're concerned about our lives.
A lot of the same kinds questions tend to pop up in our lives. We ask ourselves the same things day in and day out. For me, the exact. same. questions rehash themselves again and again in all manner of circumstances. Regardless of what is happening, the same questions can rise up and seize me. Questions like:
Will I get into graduate school?
Will I even get a job singing?
Will I be able to feed myself?
And then there's one that, honestly, is the silliest of all. Like, it's really silly, guys. But it keeps coming back to me like some sort of weird Medusa: once you chop off one of its heads, three more grow back in its place. The question that my brain often tortures itself with is Will I be able to sing today?
Oh my gosh.
I know that about 95% of you are rolling your eyes right now. But I promise you it's a real question that my real brain asks its real self. Somewhere in myself, I know I can sing. But the rest of me doubts that I'll be able to pull it off today. I've never really had any bad experiences performing. In fact, I've never ever ever had an occasion where I forgot how to sing. My voice has never gone out on me, technique-wise. Why, then, do I keep asking this question?
It's because I don't trust the gifting.
For my whole life, I've learned that I should give glory to God for my abilities, that I can do nothing without Him. And that's true. But somehow, some way, that has fostered in my mind the erroneous idea that I have no skill that I can depend on. I can do nothing on my own has become I have nothing I can count on, and that's simply not true.
It almost feels arrogant to trust the gift to be there always. It feels wrong to know that I can open my mouth and sound the same every single time. It feels like presumption and pride to believe that I have this ability within me. Because I don't.
But then again, I do.
All over the Bible, God gives gifts. In Luke 12:32, Jesus tells His disciples to "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." And elsewhere, He tells His followers this:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
He gives graciously to all! He loves to do it! He takes pleasure in giving to people! I can't get over that. We are so selfish, and He is so full of love and overflowing generosity.
But His giving is only one side of the coin. In a video series I'm watching right now, Emily Freeman (yep, same lady. She rocks) says that our souls are made to receive the presence of God. We are made to receive what He has to give us. He is the giver. We are the receivers. It's a beautiful relationship by design, a back and forth that recycles itself as we give our thanks to Him for what we have received from His hand.
So what does this mean?
If I am made to receive from God, I can receive my gifting with open arms and tons of joy -- and no fear. He has chosen to give me my voice, and I have chosen to receive it. God is not in the business of snatching His gifts back from His children. He loves to give gifts to us, like an indulgent father. What kind of father snatches back a gift from His child?
To tell the truth, my fear is that I will love the gift too much and that God will take it away. I fear that my love to sing will become an idol, and that God will remove my voice from me in order to bring me back to Himself.
To that, I say this: There have been many times that I have loved my voice more than I ought. There have been many times that I was obsessed with myself and my ability and I didn't love God the way that I should. In those times, God has reproved me, admonished me, and loved me. He has never taken my voice from me. This is not to say that He couldn't, because He 100% could. But He isn't in the business of snatching back the gifts from His children just because they love them too much or in the wrong way. Instead, He reminds me of Who He is and how much more worthy He is of my love than these two thin membranes inside my throat.
Yes, trusting the gifting seems arrogant. But I think what's really necessary is trusting God.
Trust that He had a plan when He gave you this gift.
Trust that He is gracious and kind and loves to give gifts to His children.
Trust that He will not take the gift away from you. In fact, He is incredibly good at shaping the gifts He's given us so that they become better.
He's also good at shaping us so that we use the gifts to serve Him.
Because, you see, that's what it's all about. I heard a song lyric once in the animated movie Joseph, King of Dreams that said, "Your gifts are meant to give away." We are given our gifts not only so that we can enjoy them, but so that we can use them to offer glory back to God.
Because we can't do anything on our own.
Trust the gifting. It's there. It's yours. He gave it to you. But remember who gave it. I know how to sing. But I have been given the ability. It did not come from me. It came from the One Who made Heaven and earth and the entire universe and also these two thin membranes in my throat in order to glorify Him in the same way that the stars do: by pointing back to Him and saying You are my Creator, and I exist because of You.
May that always be our cry. May it be our reminder in the morning when the sun rises and in the evening when it sets and in between when we use our gifts. May we be reminded of His goodness and grace to us every time we write or dance or paint or cook... or sing. May we trust the gifting because we can trust Him.
He is so good.
P.S. Want to check out that awesome blog post I mentioned at the beginning? Click here!