Using our Gifts to Honor God
I believe that no one comes onto this earth without having been given a gift. After all, God is our Creator. We are created in His image. Why would He create us without a talent, leaving us to wander about with no interest or direction? Leo Buscaglia said, “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” Herein lies the map that will lead us through every road in life. I find it saddening to see a person who is unaware of his or her gifts. Talents lay dormant and the person usually goes through life with low self-esteem and an unawareness of the immensity of God’s love for us.
Some of us have known from childhood, the gifts we were given. We knew that we were born artists, or doctors, or fire fighters and we knew that these were the gifts which we would offer to God and neighbor. Others realized, a little later, what gifts God had bestowed upon them. Many young men knew, when they were altar servers, lighting candles and carrying crucifixes, that the priesthood was their calling, while others had a late vocation. Regardless of the timing, the important aspect is knowing your gift and using it in ways that honor Our Lord.
The Gift of Creativity
As a person who has been blessed with the gift of creativity, I often struggle with choosing my medium or method of work. Paint? Textiles? Beads? Or words? What about a palette? As a lover of color, I see God’s creative hand in every aspect of nature and I want to echo these magnificent colors in my work. The litany continues but most importantly, as I contemplate my creative expression, the question is, “How will this honor God?” How does it fit into my mission? Realizing that if I let go and let God choose, my answer will come with perfect clarity and I am assured that it comes from His Spirit, not my ego. Knowing that God has made the choice for me, I can go about whatever I do in my own colorful, often eccentric manner. I can feel secure in knowing that a rosary I have created rests in the hands of a person who is praying, and by God’s Grace, I am an instrument in that prayer. The thought that my painting has added color and reflection to someone’s room, brings me great joy. And because my painting is usually of a spiritual nature, I can visualize someone meditating before it. These are, as Saint Therese said, the little ways. “Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.”
Does Creativity Begin and End with the Artist?
Saint John Paul II was referring to artists when he wrote…the more conscious they are of their “gift”, are led all the more to see themselves and the whole of creation with eyes able to contemplate and give thanks, and to raise to God a hymn of praise. But does that statement refer to artists exclusively? I think not.
Romans 12: 6-8 teaches us that we each, according to God’s Grace, have been given different gifts. It goes on to say, “If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
If we live our lives with a sense of gratitude for our gifts, whatever they are, and we use these gifts generously and cheerfully, they become a prayer and, in that, we are serving God. Saint Josemaria Escriva said, “You must realize now, more clearly than ever, that God is calling you to serve Him in and from the ordinary, secular and civil activities of human life. He waits for us every day, in the laboratory, in the operating theatre, in the army barracks, in the university chair, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home and in all the immense panorama of work.”
When we carry an understanding of this quote into our everyday life, we are answering the call to use our God given skills to serve Him. We then come to fully recognize that one gift is not greater than another and that the world needs them all. From doctors, architects, musicians and first responders to carpenters, teachers, technicians and maintenance workers, we are each needed. And when we come to this realization, we also come to a greater appreciation for each other. We serve each other respectfully, leaving ego out of the equation and we offer a “Thank you” to God for the opportunities we are given. The most important aspect of this enlightenment is that we know that our gift, no matter what it is, is truly not “ours.” It is God’s. We are His instruments and it is only by His Grace that we have the skills we have been given. So, let us begin each day with gratitude and go about it honoring Him by humbly serving others.