|The computer guy and the designer.|
Like so many of us, I was shocked and grieved at the news Kobe Bryant and his teenage daughter had been killed in a helicopter crash, along with many others. I don't follow the Lakers but I do live in a part of the country where basketball is practically a religion. Even my mother, hardly a sports fan, knew who the Celtics were because "that nice boy from Indiana" played there.
My husband, for whom the term fanatic was invented, once saw Magic Johnson walking down the street in Michigan and ran after him just to say hello... in person. He left our then young daughter and me sitting in a restaurant wondering where he had ran off to in such a rush.
Once I was over the initial shock of the accident, what I was left to ponder was how people like Kobe Bryant were born to do what they became famous for doing. That man could play basketball. Granted he was obsessive and practiced continuously but you do not get to the NBA without a whole lot of God given talent.
I do believe that God gives us talents and desires for what He wants us to accomplish in this world. Looking back now, I also see that while some talents have remained the same, others seem to have come and gone through the years. For instance, when I was working in a corporation, I could multi task like crazy.
I had the mental ability to follow numerous conversations while facilitating work groups and I could discern quite often who was and was not telling the truth (that may have been more of a spiritual gift but then again... aren't they all?). I had a passion for the way organizations worked and loved to read about the subject.
These days, I can hardly put together a grocery list and I cannot tell you how many times I walk from one side of the house to another just to have forgotten what I was going after. Thankfully, multi tasking is rarely a necessity. With the possible exception of cleaning the house while the clothes are in the washing machine.
I was speaking to someone recently about mutual people we knew who were artists, writers, or musicians. She mentioned that she could do all of these things but didn't excel at any of them. I reminded her that what she was currently doing required all of these skills put together, not necessarily excelling at any one given talent. She has the amazing gift of using a little of this, a lot of that, and some of another talent to excel in her journey.
One of the things I dislike about sports is the way they are set up, there is only one winner. We remember the Super Bowl champs but do not remember the excellent team they beat in the playoffs. Baseball fans remember who won the World series last year but can't recall who they played against. Basketball fans can remember who won the NCAA tourney the past few years and football fans remember who won the Heisman trophy. One team. One player.
I cannot tell you how happy I am that God does not judge us so that only a chosen few will achieve rewards when they stand before Him. If that were the case, I certainly would not want to come after Billy Graham when rewards are handed out.
No, He judges us by what we do with what we were given. We are not judged on the curve or the rewards would be given to he that was just a little better than the other guy. We are not judged for gifts He did not give us. If my rewards depended on my ability to sing, I'd be in real trouble.
How do we know what gifts we are given? Well, for one thing... what do we love to do, what is our passion, what are we good at doing? When I was a young Christian, I attended an excellent evangelical type Presbyterian church. It was there that I learned about the Schaeffers and their books became foundations of learning for my theology.
I also learned about D. James Kennedy and his Evangelism Explosion program. One of the things Kennedy recommends people do when invited to someone's home is to look at their bookcase (or in our home... multiple book cases). He said that will usually give you a good insight into who a person is and what he is passionate about.
I still find that to be very true and invaluable. although people probably think me quite nosy when I first go to their house and immediately check out their bookshelves. Except usually my reputation as a bookish person has gone before me so maybe they only think me curious and not daft? Perhaps...
My early years probably didn't tell me much about who I would become except I learned to love books quite young and I remember making "appetizers" for my parents when I was about six or seven. My husband was born to do engineering and work with numbers. It was actually fun to work with my kids as they developed their interests.
My son was born to work with computers. In his bookshelves during high school and college were books on history, politics, science, and lots of thick manuals about coding. He bought old computer manuals that taught C+ and C++ at library sales when they were long out of date but were invaluable for the young student.
He thinks in Code and can communicate it to others. He has that rare combination of computer nerd (with a degree in Computer Science) and people person. The work he does today with a subsidiary of IBM uses every one of his giftings.
My daughter wanted to be Bob Villa when she was quite young. She did and still does love architecture and houses. I do, too. We are often sending each other IG photos of either houses or rooms that we find lovely, in much the same way a garden lover would send another photos of beautiful roses.
Not everyone agreed with her desire to study Interior Design at the University, even though it was a difficult pre-architecture course. She went into college as a Dean Scholar. Most people could see her as a doctor or a lawyer or in some other brainy occupation.
She was told by people she didn't even know (like the student behind the cash register at the art supply center) that she was wasting her brains. God knew what journey He had her on and she studied exactly what she needed for that journey in college. Not to mention being an excellent wife to her brilliant husband.
The majors in college that each of my kids chose were far from easy and both had high drop out rates. Both of my kids went through a time... albeit short... that they considered alternative study paths. However, given the far from perfect parents they were given, one personality trait we both held up quite often is that we keep going even when it looks impossible.
We know that just having the desire to be something does not make it happen. There are thousands upon thousands of young people who want to be professional sports athletes. Quite often they buy the shoes or the jersey or the cereal with his or her face on the front and think this will help them on the way to fame.
Some will even work hard and practice a great deal and still not reach what it takes to become a professional. For it takes more than hard work, it takes being born with a gift in the first place that can be molded and shaped into what it takes to be a professional.
Having said that, God does give us interests, desires, and talents that pave the way for what we are to become. So next week I want to ponder the subject a little more with this thought... have the events of our life shaped the way we use our gifts? Something to think about. ;)
Image: My son and daughter at his wedding. Born twelve years apart but good friends today with their sibling and their sibling's spouse.