Posts Tagged ‘God-Given Abilities’

Imagine God on the sixth day of creation, surveying the work he’s accomplished.

Craggy mountain peaks reach upward toward cerulean skies.



Undulating oceans teem with thousands of different kinds of fish and sea creatures—from protozoa to humpback whales.



Flat lands and rolling hills, some covered with grass, others with trees, also abound with life—from pixie cups that can only hold one drop of water…



…to elephants that can drink 80 gallons per day.

“And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25).

But he wasn’t finished yet. God created one more being capable of deep thought, complex interaction, and an array of emotions. He called the creature “man” (vs. 26-27).



And the Lord Most High endowed man with abilities similar to his own. For example:

  • God is creative; people have the ability to produce new works and ideas.
  • God is linguistic; people can communicate with words.
  • God is logical; people are capable of reason.
  • God is interpersonal; people have the capacity to develop relationships.
  • God is wise; people can develop wisdom.
  • God is gracious and compassionate; people are capable of responding to one another with patience, kindness, and encouragement.



Just like our Father, each of us is (to some degree) capable of all these abilities. We can creatively solve problems, retell events, weigh the pros and cons of a decision, make friends, choose wisely from the grocery store shelves, offer a compliment.

But evidence would indicate God chose to endow each of us further, with a particular intelligence in which to excel. Our own family includes:

  • Two creatives—an artist and a graphic designer
  • Two linguistics—both pastors
  • One logistic—a tech support manager
  • Three interpersonal types—a teacher, school psychologist, and psychiatric/family doctor



Each person also has secondary and even tertiary strengths, in various combinations.

Yet God didn’t stop there. In his image he made us spiritual beings as well. Within each person is an invisible, eternal soul, a place where we can experience his presence (Ephesians 3:16-19). And he gave us a conscience to know right from wrong—not to spoil our enjoyment of life but to enhance it (Psalm 128:1-2).



As wondrous as all these gifts are—individually designed strengths, eternal souls, and the compass of a conscience–God chose to bequeath us with one more extraordinary privilege. He made us to be reflections of his glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God chose not to confine his grandeur to the throne room of heaven. He allows us to make his radiant image visible in the world, as we reflect his multi-faceted goodness. No other creature was given such honor.

King David experienced the wonder. He marveled that God made us just a little lower than the angels and—get this—crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5).



Think of it: The God of all glory who deserves all honor desires to share his magnificence in the world through us.

Just this week, I glimpsed the image of God as:

  • Steve thoughtfully brought me a cup of fresh coffee—as he often does.
  • Trelene kindly gave us a book she thought we’d enjoy.
  • Micki shared her wisdom.
  • Cheri offered a word of encouragement.
  • Four-year old Elena gifted us with a sample of her artwork—accompanied by hugs.



In such ways, God’s loving kindness, wisdom, inspiration, creativity, and affection are made visible. How dark our world would be without the sparkling splendor of God’s perfections reflected through his people.

So take note:

You are irreplaceable.

No one has your particular set of gifts, strengths and traits.

God designed you specifically

to achieve pre-designed purpose (Ephesians 2:10)—

just the way you are,

in the glorious image of God.



What God-given attributes do you see among your family members? Where have you glimpsed the glorious image of God this week?


(Art & photo credits:  www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.en.wikipedia.org; http://www.mnn.com (Leonard Turner); http://www.mybible.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.freestockphotos.biz.; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.believers4ever.com; Nancy Ruegg.)


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 (Photo credit:  Chris Devers)


(An Old Folk Tale, Retold)

In an old forest of tall oak trees, a woodsman took a long walk, enjoying the warmth of spring sunshine and the rustle of a gentle breeze. After an hour or two, he became hungry and pulled a large apple from his knapsack. The man happily munched as he marched along, and soon the apple was nothing but a core. The woodsman tossed it by the path, and then with his hands, mounded dirt and leaves over the discard.

By the warmth of the sun and the soaking of spring showers, perhaps one of these seeds will sprout, he thought.

Indeed, one tiny seed did begin to grow.

At first, there was not much evidence—just a small green twig with two curled-up leaves. But, just as the woodsman had hoped, sunshine and rain transformed the sprout into a fine little tree, with graceful branches, and many bright, emerald-green leaves.

The little tree was quite happy, except for one thing. He didn’t have any stars.

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

You see, every night, as the little apple tree looked up at the majestic oaks around him, he noticed they all had twinkling stars scattered among their branches. The sight was glorious to behold.

And the little apple tree felt cheated, incomplete, and jealous. Night after night he found the same thought circling around in his…trunk:

If only I had stars among my branches like these oak trees. Then I could be really happy.

Seasons passed, and the little apple tree continued to grow.  One spring, soft, pink and white blossoms appeared among his branches, and a heavenly aroma filled the air.  You’d think the little apple tree would be delighted to display such beauty.  But, alas, he still had his heart set on stars.

Apple tree in full blossom, North Ayrshire, Sc...

Then, just as the tree was getting to like those flowers, they began to turn brown and fall to the ground.  In their place, tiny green balls appeared.  Very cute, but not sparkling and bright like stars.

Those little orbs kept growing, and as summer became autumn, they turned red and became full-fledged, glowing apples.  Now some trees would be very satisfied if they could produce something as lovely and useful as apples.  But the poor little tree still craved stars.

One night a fierce thunderstorm whipped through the forest.  Leaves lost their grip and swirled on the wind in great clusters.  Huge branches were torn from their trunks and came crashing down to the forest floor.

The little apple tree held tightly to the earth with his roots, but he was powerless to hold onto all his leaves and apples.  In the morning, he could see a dozen or more apples on the ground.  Several had fallen with such force that they had split open, and…

SURPRISE!  In the center of each apple was a STAR!

The little tree had stars in his branches ever since he started growing apples!  He just never knew.

(If you cut an apple in half horizontally, you, too, will discover the “star” within.)

*    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

This cautionary tale expresses what scripture has taught all along:  We each have “stars” hidden within by God our Creator—abilities, talents, and character traits.  No one is left out.

But each set of gifts is different from person to person. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Romans 12:6a).

How boring if we were all the same.  Yet how often do we look at someone else and wish we had the same ability or talent that God has given him/her?  I don’t want to be like the little apple tree.  I want to celebrate the stars in others.

So let’s think of the “oaks” around us—saints we appreciate and admire.  Why not write a note this week, to express appreciation for their stars—the abilities, talents, and character traits that God has given them.

Then, let’s think honestly about our own stars.  Write a note to God, a prayer of gratitude for the abilities, talents, and character traits he has put within each of us.

I’m reminded of a saying from my Midwestern childhood.  When someone was surprised, it was not uncommon to hear that person cry out, “Oh, my stars!”

What a perfect title for that written prayer of gratitude:  “Oh, My Stars!”

(Go ahead and give it a try.)

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