“God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!”1 Corinthians 12:4-7 MSG
Springtime is when I prepare my garden for budding flowers. In fact, some of them start early to push their way through the winter soil into the light of the springtime sun. I love this time of year. Not only does it bring hope of warmth after a long, cold winter, but also it brings beauty with the different blossoms. The crocuses huddled together in clumps of purple, yellow, and white are typically the first to show their color. Then there are the daffodils, lilacs, tulips, forsythia, hyacinths, each one with its own special beauty, fragrance, and color. Later the azaleas, dogwoods, and peonies add splendor to the landscape.
When I work in my garden, I value all of the plants, tenderly caring for each one in its own way with no expectation for them to be all the same. I learned there are some plants that need direct sun and others that don’t. Some need a lot of space while some can be placed close together. There are plants that produce only one beautiful blossom for a brief time, some that produce multiple blossoms simultaneously, and others that just stay green all season. The diversity of these creations is the source of the garden’s beauty.
It is no secret that we have a creative God who loves diversity. He created it in nature, in science and in each of us, His children. Every single creation has purpose, value and is designed to work together in a balanced relationship. It amazes me how we can appreciate God’s diversity in nature and in our garden. We can appreciate the intricacies of the lily and simplicity of the crocus. But when it comes to ourselves as unique creations, this foundational fact of diversity can be the source of insecurity, conflict, and doubt. Why is this the case? Why can’t we see our differences and appreciate our uniqueness in the diversity we see? Instead of appreciating the beauty God created, we fall into the dangerous pit of comparison, opening the door to either shame, judgment, or pride.
In Paul’s letter, he explained the importance of the unique body parts functioning together in cooperation. God created each of us with different gifts and abilities and it is in our diversity that He designed us to work together in unity. It is easier to say than to do, but if we can appreciate the beauty of a garden and the value of each plant in that garden, why can’t we give ourselves and each other the same admiration and support for the gifts and abilities that God has given us?
I believe this is an important reminder to each of us as speakers and authors, especially as we prepare to be together at Speak Up. God has created each of us with unique strengths and experiences. He wants us to use them as He directs, not to sit in the seat of comparison or judgment, pride, or even worse, envy. I believe He wants you to know that you are His unique creation, made for a purpose, and equipped with a message He has given you to share with others.
Prayer: Father God, You are a creative God. Your handiwork is beautiful in nature and takes my breath away, whether it is a sunset, thunderstorm, or the budding of springtime flowers. Just as I can appreciate all the beauty around me, help me to see the beauty you have created both in me and others. Remove the internal voices of doubt, shame, or comparison. You have designed me for a purpose, help me to see that purpose, have confidence in it, and step into my world to glorify You. Amen