When we dedicate our gifts and talents to God, giving back to him the fruit of the gifts He has given us, our work is shaped by our love for God.
When we offer out gifts and talents to God, He sometimes uses them in unexpected ways.
The book, “Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul,” published in 2000, includes the story, “The Perfect Mistake.”
The story concerns an elderly carpenter living in Chicago. The small church the carpenter attended embarked on a project to send some clothing to an orphanage in China. The carpenter volunteered to build crates to hold the clothes. When he finished the crates he helped load them up with clothing and put them on the trucks that would take the crates to the docks for the China-bound ships.
He was pleased to offer his gifts to help the needy, even in such a small way. But on his way home he reached into his shirt pocket for his glasses, but the pocket was empty. His glasses were missing. He mentally went back over his day and realized that they must have fallen out of his pocket when he was bending over loading the crates. His glasses were on their way to the other side of the world.
The glasses were new and he didn't have a lot of money. Upset at the thought of having to buy another pair he complained to God as he drove home. “It isn't fair, I have given of my time and talent, and now this happens. Why would you do this to me?”
Several months later the director of the Chinese orphanage came to speak at the carpenter's church. He began by thanking them for their generosity and faithfulness. The clothing was greatly needed.
“But most of all,” he continued, “I want to thank you for the glasses you sent. You see, the communists had just swept through the orphanage destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate, even if I had the money there was just no way for me to replace those glasses. We prayed desperately over the situation and then your crates arrived. When we removed the cover from one of the crates we saw the pair of glasses lying on top of the folded clothes.” The director paused a moment to let his words sink in, then continued. “My friends, when I tried on the glasses it was if they had been made for me, they were perfect. Thank you again for your faith and generosity.”
The people of the small church were a little confused. Glasses were not on the list of items they had sent to the orphanage. But in the back row, an elderly carpenter sat silently, tears streaming down his cheeks.
All of us are given unique gifts, and there are no small gifts. Saint Paul tells us, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” 1Corinthians 12:7. These gifts are given to us for the common good, to build up the Body of Christ. Since these are supernatural gifts we can trust in their capacity to work spiritual wonders even if they seem outwardly mundane.
It is our part to do all we can with the gifts we have been given. Raw talent is not enough, we must learn and develop and sharpen our skills. Then we can present them to the Lord and allow Him to change them into something greater than they were, as the water at Cana was turned into wine.
There are three “epiphanies” or manifestations of Christ to the Gentiles, recognized by the Church. The first epiphany is the visit of the Magi, when the Christ child is honored by foreign dignitaries. The second manifestation is the Baptism of Jesus. The heavens open, the Holy Spirit descends, and the voice of God is heard. The third event id the miracle of water turned to wine at the wedding in Cana. It is marked by the last words of Mary that are recorded in scripture. “Do whatever he tells you.” With those words Mary leaves everything to Jesus and at the same time instructs the servants.
Her words are for us as well. Just as the servants could not have provided another 25 gallons of wine on their own, we cannot give our lives meaning, purpose and joy by our own efforts. However we still need to do as much as we are able to, as the servants needed to fill the jars with water, so that God can work miracles with what we give Him.
When we dedicate our gifts and talents to God, giving back to him the fruit of the gifts He has given us, our work is shaped by our love for God. Nothing done for love is ever trivial or wasted. Even the smallest part of our work may be used for the benefit of others in ways that we may never fully realize. All that matters is that we do what we do, for love of others.
It really is as simple as that. If all our creative output, all the movies, stories, art, drama, songs, poems and books were created for the benefit of the common good, which is another way of saying for the love of God, imagine the impact we would have on the world.
God speaks to us through our gifts. We may never fully know the good we do But it is for us to listen, and do as He tells us.
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org and can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.co