Our talents and abilities are best used when they are surrendered to the Lord.
Birthdays are times of surprises, and when I turned 11, I was given something special. Now, birthdays in the Davis household are a lovingly simple affair: a hug in the morning, a few cards or gifts, and your choice of dinner in the evening. Back then, however, a birthday meant gifts, and gifts meant good times to be had.
This special surprise was a pocketknife, a small one, but I could not help but think about the adventures that awaited me and my own weapon. It was a tool, after all, and tools are meant to be used for a purpose. What my parents did not realize was just what kind of purpose I had in mind for it.
The next morning, my mom came in to wake me up, and she received her own surprise. She found something carved into that nice headboard: my first name and my last initial, a “Zach D” that would haunt my timeouts for the next few days.
I lost my knife privileges for the rest of the year, yet I learned something important. Even though the knife had so much potential, 11-year-old me wasted it for a simple act of selfishness.
Our theme verse at school this year has been Zechariah 13:9. It establishes us as God’s people, and the Lord as “our God.” Although at first these two phrases appear to be referencing the same thing, there is a distinct and incredible difference between them. While being God’s people means recognizing that we are held in his hands and made for a special purpose, the Lord being “our God” means realizing that he is the one who can best use us for that purpose. When Zechariah wrote these words, he was able to see his purpose unfolding in front of his very eyes. The words of this verse and book have been spoken to countless people over millennia, and God has used it in mighty ways. Zechariah realized that he had talents and abilities, but also understood that to best use them he had to surrender them to God.
I mentioned this story from my childhood for a reason. The knife I had was a tool, made for something specific. The hands that wielded it were dexterous, able to hold it. My eyes saw it, however, and wanted to use it for my own purposes, and so the knife was never used to craft or to build, only to destroy.
It is simple for me to see my purpose. I have talents and aspirations, yet if I choose to pursue them on my own terms, I will never fully fulfill them to my satisfaction. There are days, even at Bible college, when I can feel useless. I might finish school or work, and I might return to my hobbies, but without a clear motivation or motivator, I fall short.
We are tools, built for a purpose. Left to our own devices, we dull, and we fail to do what we were made to do. But the Lord is our God, and therefore is our best user. Like a hand that fits inside of a glove, God uses every part of us—our skills, our flaws, our passions—to bring about something amazing!
When I know that the Lord is my God, I can be assured that my goals will not be left unfinished nor my purposes unfulfilled. Not because I know how to make the most of myself, but that, through God’s mercy and wisdom, he can use me for his glory. Whatever the future holds, let us stand through the fire and through the trials, knowing that the Lord is our God.
Zach Davis [FLBC first-year] is a member of Atonement Free Lutheran, Arlington, Wash.
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