When we connect in with our spiritual gifts and abilities it can be overwhelming at first. We have no idea what to do with them. Sometimes, we feel at a loss as to how to best use them in the service of Spirit. Occasionally, we may not even realize we have them until something happens that causes us to put that particular gift to work.
That moment when we first put our gifts to use can feel sort of like it did for Spider-man when he first attempted to use his spider suit…
Suit-lady has guided Spider-man to the bad guys. He leaps off the top of a truck landing beside a road near an empty gas station.
Suit Lady: Detecting three individuals
Spider-man: Why is their secret lear in a gas station, that’s so lame.
He climbs to the top of the gas station sign and asks Suit Lady: Hey Suit Lady, what are they doing?
Suit Lady: Do you want to hear what they are saying?
Spider-man: I can hear what they are saying? Ah, yeah.
Suit Lady: Activating enhanced recognizance mode
Suit Lady activates the program and Spider-man is able to hear what the bad guys are saying. After he listens to their plans, he decides to get a little closer.
Suit Lady: Would you like me to engage enhanced combat mode?
Spider-man: Enhanced combat mode? Yeah…
Suit Lady activates enhanced combat mode by saying: Activating instant kill
Spider-man: No, no, no, I don’t want to kill anybody.
Suit Lady: Deactivate instant kill.
Spider-man then shoots his web-shooter and jumps landing on his face on the ground. His web-shooter did not shoot his normal webs. Confused he uses his web-shooters again and they spray weird web balls everywhere.
Spider-man as he runs for cover: Suit Lady what is wrong with my web-shooters?
Suit Lady: Rapid fire is the default for enhanced combat mode.
This similar experience keeps happening as Spider-man attempts to get used to his spider-suit’s new abilities. He keeps having challenges and difficulties during his attempted ambushing of the bad guys. It does not go well. He ends up knocking himself out in the back of an 18-wheeler….
In the Christian tradition, it is Paul who writes and introduces them to us. In 1 Corinthians 12, he writes:
“God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:
- wise counsel (administration)
- clear understanding
- simple trust
- healing the sick
- miraculous acts
- proclamation (preaching)
- interpretation of tongues.
What do I mean by Spiritual Gifts?
These are the ones listed in the Bible, but there are so many more. Any skill, talent, ability, and strength that you use in service to Spirit is a spiritual gift. As spiritual gifts are the talent and abilities that Spirit has placed within our hearts. These skills build within our hearts, creating a passion and call to put them to use. Usually something happens that ignites that passion and pushes us to use them. Many times, it is when we see, experience, witness injustices around us to happening to us that we step up. Other times it is a deep desire to help, to serve that ignites the skill.
When you arrive at the moment when you decide to put your spiritual gifts to use, Spirit is there to guide you. Hopefully it will not be an hilarious as Spider-man’s first use of enhanced modes in his spider-suit. But, Spirit is much more helpful than Suit Lady. She is a computer program that does what the programming tells her to. Spirit is the Creator of the gift you are about to put to use and knows how you can best use your gift. This is a deep comfort as you step into your spiritual power.
Your gifts are an expression of your spiritual power in this world. They you ways to share your connection to Spirit, your own transformational power with the world. All you have to do is fully embody the gift. (I wrote about embodying our creation in this post.)
Embodying Your Spiritual Gifts
Here is the thing about embodying spiritual gifts. When you step fully into the spiritual gift, you become aligned fully with Spirit. Spirit is flowing freely and fully through you. There is no space between you and Spirit. You are One. Know that and trust that and open yourself to experience that.
What do I mean?
I am a pastor. This means that every Sunday I have to preach a sermon. When I first began preaching, I would write it out word for word and read the sermon. I was so nervous that otherwise I would not know what to say. But as I was preaching the sermon I felt a distance, a gap between me and the movement of Spirit.
First growth moment in preaching
One week, I found I could no longer write my sermons. I was given an outline. That freaked me out. Spirit decided it was time for me to grow as a preacher, to release my fears and trust more and more in Spirit’s movement and wisdom during the preaching moment. That first Sunday I preached off notes, I was a wreck up until the sermon. Then something came over me, a deep peace, I focused in and preached. It felt so different. The gap between me and Spirit shrunk.
About a year later, when I was comfortable with preaching from notes, Spirit took my notes away. I remember attempting to prepare the sermon. It kept running through my heart, but I literally could not put it down on paper. Each time I tried it felt horrible. I would go for a walk and a powerful sermon would run through my heart. Then, I would attempt to write the outline and yuck! After repeating this cycle a few times that week, I finally gave up. I did not sleep the night before I was to preach with no notes.
That Sunday morning, my congregation members asked me where my sermon was. I could not speak, so I pointed to my heart. They nodded. I was anxious and could not breathe. Sitting in the pulpit, I began praying that Spirit become one with me and preach the sermon.
When I stood up, I found myself walking away from the pulpit to the middle of the altar area. Wow, that was different. I was no longer hiding. Taking a deep breath, I began to preach. I was making eye contact the entire time. It felt like there was literally no gap between me and Spirit. I felt like the sermon was a conversation between Spirit and the congregation mediated through me.
Now this is how I preach. I walk and allow sermons to run through my heart trusting fully that on Sunday morning the appropriate sermon for that moment will run through my heart and out my mouth in conversation with the congregation. It is a humbling experience.
Notice how Spirit taught me to use this spiritual gift called preaching. Notice how Spirit walked me step by step to where I am now, allowing me to gain the confidence I needed to trust deeply, to surrender fully, to become One with Spirit.
Trust that as you engage in whatever spiritual gift you have been given, this will be your experience. You will be fully guided by the One who gifted you.
Fruits of the Spirit
As you use your gift, you will experience what Paul calls the fruits of the Spirit, “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” (Galatians 5, the Message)
This will be a sign that you are on the right path. You will feel yourself aligning fully with Love, Peace, Joy, Compassion. Spirit’s Light will shine forth from you. You will notice God’s transforming Justice growing. You will be One with all that is Sacred.
May you know this moment. May you trust this experience.