Reflections of God's Goodness
The New Year has arrived! In some ways, it’s a fresh start. I don’t know about you, but as the New Year approaches, I often find myself reflecting on the past year and my life overall. I think about what I want to do and accomplish in the coming year and most of all, I wonder —
What does God want from me this year?
How does God want me to use the gifts he has given me? Recently, I was working with my grand niece on her college application process and she told me she could not identify her strengths. She said that would be bragging. I was reminded of this common human misunderstanding and I wonder how many of our good sincere believers feel the same way!
Do you know what your gifts are? There could be more to discover! Psalm 139 says that we are wonderfully made and that God formed our inmost being. God created us with natural gifts and talents so that we can use them to bring about the kingdom of God in our lives. Scripture has much to say about spiritual gifts. (See 1 Corinthians 12-14, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4).
Too often, people don’t think about their gifts or talents as coming from God. We forget too that God provides spiritual gifts to us as well and God expects us to use our gifts. Natural talents and gifts are not the same as the spiritual gifts spoken of in scripture, but they cannot be separated one from the other because spiritual gifts are mediated through our natural human talents. “Now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good” (1Cor. 12:7). When we use our spiritual gifts, the outcomes can be eternal! When we put our gifts to the service of God and others, people are changed, healed, loved, helped, etc.
In a way, our gifts are assets God has asked us to manage. If we are to manage these assets, we need to know what they are. We need to take inventory in order to know what resources we have to work with! One way to find out what our gifts are is to pay attention to what we are good at and what we enjoy doing. We can ask also close friends and family members which areas they see as our strengths. There are even various tests available to measure our strengths and reveal spiritual gifts.
Is there a talent or competence that helps define you and your best self? Is it gentle care for older people or children? Are you the stable center of your family? Do you have inner strength that encourages others? Or a deep and abiding gift of faith or optimism? Are you the person everyone depends on to run the show or manage the project?
This is a good time to recognize your gift — know it — own it — cherish it and use it. This is the year to let your gifts grow and blossom and become even more wonderful evidence of God’s action in our world. God has gifted us but we have the responsibility to stir up the gifts. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you" (2 Timothy 1:6).
May the New Year bring all of us greater awareness of our gifts and the many ways we are called to use them to serve God and the people in our lives.
Happy New Year!
Sr. Mary Ann Barnhorn, SNDdeN
Director of Development