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    by Susan McGrath

"Unusual Gifts"
Date Posted: July 31, 2004

There was a commercial a few months ago featuring an attorney reading a will to three thirty-something siblings. One is bequeathed a mansion, one a large amount of money and the third, several acres of swamp land.

Instead of jumping up an yelling in outrage, he jumps up and whoops for joy. It's an ad for a four-wheel drive vehicle and he visualizes himself mudding through the swamp and can apparently think of nothing more enjoyable.

I can't remember many times I've been able to look at a gift with such creativity, or even a bleak situation and find great joy hiding inside.

In the case of the swamp land, he wasn't so much excited by the gift itself, but by what it allowed him to do. He could recreate in a way he loved and had been given permission to do it.

Talents and non-material gifts from God can fall into this category. There are some things I am trained or educated to do, but they don't necessarily hold my passion. Yet things I really enjoy doing and some for which I have a talent, I sometimes tend to hold back. It surely can't be what I'm supposed to do with my life or what God intends for me. It's too easy and too much fun!

But the more I study scripture, the more I believe my reasoning is a bit flawed.

God is a loving father who wants us to be happy. He provides ways for us to achieve that through the gifts he bestows on us - materially, spiritually and practically.

Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it."

I had always assumed, and read that others believed, this verse advised to teach children right from wrong and they would always come back to the moral high ground when they grew up. But I know people for whom this is not the case. Family members, friends, people who grew up in my home church.

So could this scripture have another dimension. I recently read (somewhere) a deeper interpretation. That training children in the way they should go also means helping them find their passion. In what do they excel? What do they love to do? This, in partnership with God's way, will give them a fulfillment and keep them from despair in life.

I don't know what most people believe about this verse, but this expanded idea makes sense to me. It sounds like a loving father who wants the best for his children.

My brother recently graduated from a private college where they promised to help each student "find their passion". I have heard many psychologists and successful people say "if you do what you love, you will be successful."

If we want to be successful Christians, don't we need to be joyous and passionate in our daily life so we can be effective witnesses? How do people see us as Christians? As plodding through and just doing what has to be done, or as having a purpose and passion for life?

What better life to lead than doing work for the Lord through the carefully chosen talent or passion he has seen fit to bless us with!

As you take ten minutes this week, take inventory of your gifts and talents. Are you using them to full potential for the Lord? Ask God help you utilize a more unusual gift you may have neglected.

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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