Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
God was beginning to call me out to be bolder in my life. It was as thought I first went through a cleansing stage, where He was making me new. I was getting rid of sinful behaviors and desires and replacing them with God’s will and desires. Next it was time to grow a new intimacy with Jesus and learn about who He is and what a Christian life can look like. That required me to step out of my comfort zone and focus on the one whom I adore.
My church has an annual women’s retreat every March. It was not something I had every even considered attending before, because on top of the financial burden, I was not willing to live my kids and my husband. I had not been away from my husband for more than two nights since we began living together nine years ago. And I liked it that way thankyouverymuch. As march began to approach women began asking me if I was going to attend. I didn’t think it was a very good idea, but I figured I could pray about it, and ask my husband to pray about it as well. I knew if God wanted me there, I would go. Otherwise I would be perfectly happy to stay home.
I prayed to know God’s will and that if He wanted me to go that I could get a scholarship, because otherwise I could not afford to go. Before I knew it I had a scholarship and a cabin assignment and a ride up there. It happened so fast I didn’t know what hit me. God made His will known, and I was going to spend my first weekend away from my family. I was nervous, but excited. Talk about stepping outside of my comfort zone. Not to mention I never saw myself as much of a people person. I was more afraid of people than anything else.
The Friday I was supposed to leave I was so afraid! My husband called me from work to tell me God wanted me to know that I was going to have a great weekend, so I should relax. Relax? Really? Easier said than done. The first night was rough. There was no cell service and I could not call home. I tried to find a spot where my phone would get reception, but there was none. I missed my husband badly, and yes even my kids. I had to sleep in a dorm style room with a group of women I didn’t really know. So out of my comfort zone! But I put my trust in God. He wanted me there, even though I had no idea why, so I knew I had to go with it.
The retreat’s schedule included a worship time, a speaker and then cabin time to talk about what we learned. This was scheduled twice a day. I was thrown into an intimacy with women I had never even experienced in my life before. Growing up with a mom and a sister at home there was no closeness at all between us. Still to this day we have strained relationships at best. So to be in this proximity with other women, sleeping, eating and sharing a bathroom together, was so strange for me. Yet by the end of the weekend I had bonded with several of the women.
Most exciting of all I had an amazing experience growing closer to God through worship. Before I had always had a bit of a bad attitude during worship at church. If I didn’t know the song or didn’t want to hear it, my worship wasn’t good. If I thought the musicians were off, or if I was tired, I couldn’t get into it. And believe me I started off the weekend this way to. But something happened over the course of those three days where God met me in a new place. And I gave Him all my love and adoration, throwing myself into every song and bringing myself on my knees before Him. I couldn’t get enough of it! I never wanted the worship to end. I wanted to just stay in that place and be with God forever. I knew that must be just what heaven is like, singing praises to our King!
The experience has completely changed my attitude during worship time. Now every time I am in worship I feel the spirit moving me and molding me. I always take a posture of submission; raising my hands and enjoying every minute of it, no matter what song it is or how it is played. I am here to give my all to God, not the other way around. I don’t know if it was the worship or being out in the woods and closer to His creation, or what it was, but I grew in my boldness as well. I was praying for women, crying out on their behalf for their pain and burdens, praying for restoration and faith and healing. And I loved every minute of it. I was speaking words of encouragement and words of knowledge and faith. I never knew I had it in me to pray so boldly and to speak so honestly. God knew. He was just waiting for that right moment to show it to me. That moment when I would be humbled before him and ready to take that next step into His world.
I did not realize these things were spiritual gifts – encouraging, speaking truth, praying, faith, helping others. Sometimes something that is already so much a part of you just seems normal. And sometimes things that feel right, also just feel to scary to step out and do. So you don’t look at it as a gift from your Creator. A gift you were given to share with the world, to be a light and shine brightly with faith and love. Something as simple as volunteering at church or smiling at people you walk by in the store, those are spiritual gifts. And they are so very important to God. He sees all you do, and those you do for the least of these, you did for me.
It took time for me to realize that I had any spiritual gifts at all. I had to keep being put in positions where it was out of the ordinary for me – out of my comfort zone – so that I would begin to exercise them without out even realizing it. Until I just couldn’t stop myself from using them every time I was around people. It became a joy to me and that is when you know you are doing God’s work – when it fills you with joy and love. If you find yourself in a position like that, then maybe you have found your spiritual gift.
This test can be helpful for you to learn more about what gifts of the spirit are and what gifts of the spirit you have been given. Once you start to understand what your spiritual gifts are, you can began to pray and ask God to lead you in how to use them. It may be as simple as feeding a homeless person, or it may be something more complicated like leading a Bible study. Whatever it is, it is valuable in the eyes of God,and needed in our church body!
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11