Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 65; 147:1-11, 1 Kings 3:1-15, Acts 27:9-26, Mark 14:1-11
One of the most powerful scenes in The Wizard of Oz takes place after Dorothy and her companions have destroyed the Wicked Witch of the West only to discover Oz is not so great and is terrible in all the wrong ways. He has no power to grant them what they asked for (courage, brains, and a heart) but in one of his few authentic moments he teaches them an important truth: they carried these things within them all along.
The Lord visited King Solomon in a dream and instructed him to ask for whatever he wanted. After words of gratitude and praise for all the Lord had done, Solomon asked for “a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” The Lord , pleased with this request, assured Solomon it would be so.
Solomon could have asked for riches, or long life, or military victory. In an Oz-like twist, his choice revealed the seeds of wisdom already planted in him. Unlike the fraudulent Oz, the Lord did have the power to grant Solomon’s request – in fact, it appears it was granted long before Solomon asked.
We can waste a lot of time longing for gifts we don’t possess, and failing to recognize the value of those we do. Whether a trait is a gift or a flaw may depend largely on how we use it. Solomon could have used his wisdom to scheme, but he chose to use it to serve his – and the Lord’s – people. When Paul refocused his single-mindedness from persecuting Christians to evangelizing Christ, he was unmatched.
Certainly we need to grow and learn all our lives, but twisting ourselves into a shape not meant for us perhaps isn’t the best approach. Once the cookie has been baked, you can’t force it back into a cutter – even the original one. When decorating that cookie, one person will see a flaw to cover up where another sees the opportunity for an unconventional feature. Instead of wasting time lamenting the gifts we haven’t been given, let’s direct and grow the ones we have.
For thoughts on today’s reading from Acts, see Crash Course.
Comfort: You have gifts that matter, because God gave them to you.
Challenge: Appreciate and use the gifts you have. It’s the only way to grow them.
Prayer: Thank you, God of creation, for making me as I am. I will honor you by making the best of it. Amen.
Discussion: How do you feel when people acknowledge your talents?
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