Gifts, Talents, and Usefulness

You know, sometimes God brings people to mind, something they said, or did that holds some nugget of truth that speaks to where you are in this moment. Shortly after Rich Mullins died Twenty the Countdown Magazine (link to full show notes) had an entire show remembering Rich, his music, and his faith. Over the last few days this quote has come to mind:

JR: 20: The Countdown Magazine remembers Rich Mullins
JR: One of the people who had the privilege of spending some time with Rich Mullins was 20: The Countdown Magazine’s producer Rick Tarrant.

RM: In terms of the scope of eternity, I really believe that we are dust. I really believe that I will someday be dead no matter how good my songs are. Someday I will decay. I will rot and there will be nothing left.

RT: An old recording of Our God Is an Awesome God

RM: Because I write pop music, it is all very disposable. I think everyone will be surprised twenty years from now that that song will have completely fallen out of use.

RT: I would not be surprised if twenty years from now to hear Awesome God sung in our church.

RM: Either way you go. In terms of eternity, those people who did the greatest things for God were the people who weren’t trying to do anything at all. They were just simply being obedient

RT: Those are the people God can use.

RM: Those are the people God can use. And I want to be one of them. If God should use me, that would be great but if He doesn’t there is a very interesting thing you can do. In the gospel of Mark or in any of the four gospels, you go through the gospels and you say, what people are absolutely essential to this story? So Mary is essential to the story because Mary had to give birth to Jesus. And you could say, well someone else could have. But lets say that if she wouldn’t have done it then the story wouldn’t have happened. So, you have God who chose to become flesh, you have Mary who gave Him flesh, you have Jesus who was God in the flesh or who was the child of Mary and God, you have Pontius Pilate who had, in an artificial sense, the power to kill Christ, you have Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ and handed him over to the bad guys, you have whoever it was that nailed Him up to the cross. Out of those people that God used to accomplish His will in the gospel, only a couple of them were very nice people. Most of them were bad people. We all want to be useful to God. Well, its no big deal. God can use anybody. God used Nebuchadnezzar. God used Judas Iscariot. Its not a big deal to be used by God and the shocking thing in the book of Mark, and the reason why it is so shocking is because Mark is the briefest of all the gospels but he has these terrific little details and one of the little details is that it says, “and Jesus called to Him those that He wanted.” And you realize that out of the twelve people that He wanted, only one was essential to His goal in coming to earth. The other eleven people were useless to Christ but they were wanted by Christ. And I kind of go, I would much rather have God want me than have God use me.

JR: 20: The Countdown Magazine remembers Rich Mullins

The other day our Blessed is She Westchester group met at Our Lady of Fatima in Scarsdale, the conversation centered around discerning God’s will. Each one of us were moved by reading this Blessed is She reflection.

God’s will is Love, God is Love.

I can see the room, filled with afternoon sunlight, the Volunteer Director sitting on a dining room chair across from me, interviewing me asking deep questions about my expectations for the year in service. My answer was something along the line of wanting one person to come to know Jesus better. What I wanted more than anything in and through that whole year was to grow more in love with Jesus.

Discernment is a process of responding to a vocation Priestly, Married, Religious, Single Life. Discernment is also a process that extends to work, living situations, etc. Discernment includes making a list of pros and cons, it’s also active listening to how God is calling you to your vocation and work. This active listening includes prayer, conversations with Spiritual Director/Advisor or regular Confessor, listening for cues from the Holy Spirit and, sometimes a good prayerful friend. Sometimes the path is clear, not necessarily easy, but clear. Sometimes, to quote a friend, “God writes straight with crooked lines.” Those times of discernment whew, lemme tell ya.

In reading both the Blessed is She and recalling the conversation with Rich Mullins it occurred to me that ultimately we’re seeking the way that God is calling us to love Him. We’re also seeking to remove those things in our lives that are obstacles to loving God. As God created each one of us, calls each of us into being, our journey towards Him is unique. We may follow similar paths to others, a particular spirituality (Carmelite, Franciscan, Dominican, Charismatic, etc), a particular spiritual gift (evangelization, intercessory prayer, tongues, cooking, caring for those in need, speaking truth) a particular avocation, a love for the outdoors, farming, art, numbers, books, quilting, painting, gardening, building.

In some ways I think we’d all like to be useful to God, to do some great thing, that one thing. As Rich points out though, God can use anyone to accomplish his will. As Kendra points out, if we’ve got to work too hard to accomplish that thing perhaps we’re doing it wrong, and this is something we need to prayerfully take into consideration. I think of Mother Teresa picking up one person and caring for them in the final moments of their life, treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve as the well loved child of God they are. I think of St. Therese doing small things, every day things, all the things with great love. Setting aside her personal feelings of frustration to care for the needs of those around her.

Begin with prayer and Scriptural reading then add the pros/cons and conversations with a Spiritual Director or wise friend. Look for, listen for promptings of the Holy Spirit, they will be there. Discernment is a process, rather than a one and done moment. If you are in a dark place this isn’t the time to make major life decisions (unless of course you are being abused then get out immediately). And don’t make decisions from a place of fear.God can make good of these decisions however trusting God, however difficult it may be, is a better choice. In my own life I can see how making decisions from a place of fear hasn’t been particularly good.

Take some time to learn what your spiritual gifts are, there are many ways of going about this, your Spiritual Director or regular Confessor can help with this. There are other ways both online, and in books too. Learning this will help guide you in your discernment process.

How may I love you more today Lord?

God bless,


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