Of Spiritual Gifts and Lightbulbs

Spiritual gifts are a funny thing. We try to understand them, control them, and otherwise categorize them in ways that make them “safe”. We see flashy guys on the TV who seem to be able to do stuff on demand. It’s as if us mere mortals aren’t invited in, and all we can do is watch the gurus.

The reality, of course, and as usual, is different. True spiritual gifts are NOT under our control. It’s more like having a light bulb. You’re the light bulb. As a light bulb, you were created with a purpose: to create light. That said, you do NOT get to determine when you create light. That is determined by other things. You have to be in a socket. Power has to be applied. Even more important, the amount of power determines how bright the light is.

God is the power, the switch, the socket, everything else. The socket is like being in God’s will. If you position yourself where He wants you, then He can use you. If you don’t, then perhaps someone else will. You have to be where He wants you for the electricity to flow and the light to go on. Can you imagine a light bulb demanding to be used, but never being screwed into a light socket? It won’t happen.

At the same time, being in a light socket does NOT mean the light goes on. Every night, we turn out the lights in our house to sleep. Most of the time, I want the lights in my house turned off, not on. It’s only when the switch is flipped that the lights turn on.

God’s power is like that with us. If we don’t position ourselves in His will, He won’t use us. By the same token, just because we’re in His will doesn’t me He wants to use a spiritual gift through us. Really, it’s God who’s in control.

When I look at the flashy guys on TV, it’s kind of like seeing a 60 watt bulb strapped to a car 9 volt battery. There’s a dim glow, it looks impressive, but you have to suspect they’re cheating. Compare the acts of Jesus or the apostles to someone making a line of people faint. Which one is DOING something?

I’ve been lucky enough to hear God guide me. I’ve been fortunate enough to pray for healing and see my prayers answered. I would like to see things more dramatic. I don’t want to be God’s night light, but a 100 watt bulb. I don’t want God to give me 9 volts, but 120 volts!

The power will never be mine, though. It will be God’s. He doesn’t give us power. He doesn’t give us gifts. He gives us the opportunity to announce his power, to be the conduit of it. I cannot prophesy the future, but God can tell me what is coming. I cannot heal the sick, but I can announce that God is about to.

Always, it is God. Never is it me.  Remembering that difference is key.  Otherwise, I might be tempted to find a 9 volt battery to carry with me, and end up just looking lame.


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