Accepting Spiritual Gifts with Gladness
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalms 100:1-2 (NIV)
Five years ago, I hated my voice. When I played an instrument in public, my hands shook so badly they fell off my instrument during recitals and auditions. However, the post-breakup purchase of a guitar in college and a dependence on friends to learn how to play led to an excitement to share music. Before long, I was performing with friends, and when I approached about being the worship team leader for my campus’s Christian sorority, I accepted.
God gives me courage to sing, even when singing the closing prayer at my jurisdictional conference. Most recently, it was in Colorado during our DMYP meeting. The Division on Ministries with Young People (or DMYP) is a body of United Methodist youth, young adults, and adult workers from throughout world that helps empower young people for ministry.
One night, we picnicked in Rocky Mountain National Park. My bus of 13 people represented 10 countries and over a dozen languages. During the drive home, a woman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo asked how I spend prayer time. In poor French, I answered that I often sing. Choudelle grinned, handing me a hymnal. She sang slowly, teaching me a call and response from her home church. As we sang, her interpreter, Ruc, and Patrick from Cote d’Ivoire joined. After our song, Patrick continued singing until Joe, a student from Sierra Leone, recognized the tune and joined in English. The whole bus picked up the song, starting the most beautiful worship service in which I have ever participated.
We sang solos, we sang in groups. We sang rounds where individuals took turns teaching the rest of us their language. Never before had I sung in Kyrgyz or Latvian, but that night we all did. We praised God in German, Spanish, French and tribal dialects. Even our driver announced, “I may forget words because I haven’t sung in Latin in years, but I have a song I’d like to share.”
When we arrived home, we didn’t want the hour we spent in worship to end. I remember sitting in the dark parking lot surprised to hear myself begin:
“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;”
When they heard the opening line, my brothers and sisters joined, adding languages and harmonies like a professional choir.
“Praise God, all creatures here below:
Praise God the source of all our gifts!
Praise Jesus Christ, whose power uplifts!
Praise the Spirit, Holy Spirit!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
And in the silence that followed the last “Alleluia,” Joe stated, “The Holy Spirit is here tonight.” What could we say but, “Amen?”
Sometimes God gives us gifts that we cannot imagine using, because we cannot acknowledge something as a gift. Sometimes He sets us on paths that we don’t understand. We often go through our days without noticing the track God is laying right under our feet. However, when we put our faith in Him, when we trust Him to refine us into the Christians He designed us to be, beautiful things happen. Courage is instilled. Peace is given. Strangers become family. Songs are sung, and the Creator of Blessings is praised.
Discussion Questions: Has God ever revealed an unexpected gift for ministry to you? Is there something in your life you’ve dismissed as unusable that could be refined into a way to serve your church or community?
See more devotions from Sarah and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.