This post has been written for Kate’s #FiveMinuteFriday prompt: expect
Ephesians 4: 7 – 16 (The Message)
7-13 But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
He climbed the high mountain,
He captured the enemy and seized the booty,
He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
14-16 No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
Lately, I’ve been reflecting on how the Gospels beautifully reflect this Scripture. The story of our Saviour is not just told from one perspective, but many. Each one bringing additional wisdom and insight. I want to grow into this varied but unified Body, so that I may begin to truly “mov[e] rhythmically and easily with” my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I’m starting to understand that to do so, I need to both grow in accepting the gifts I have been given and to step back and appreciate the different, but vital gifts of others. If I’m honest, I’m still learning to do this. I still much too often either expect myself to be more like others, or for them to be more like me. My expectations are that a unified Body equals a uniform Body. And yet, we are repeatedly told and shown that this is not the case.
What if we went out into the world expecting to find a unique piece of God’s heart in every follower of Christ we met? What if we walked clothed in the confidence of our own unique calling? What if we expected to see the world through a unique set of eyes, expected to both learn from one another and to teach one another?
For me this means expecting to be frequently moved to tears by others’ pain, to walk past someone or sit beside them and feel their pain, without one word having been spoken. It means learning to openly express the deep grief God deposits in my heart, to appreciate it, rather than be embarrassed by it.
It also means listening to rational, practical wisdom imparted by others. It means stepping back from my own expectations of what is the “right” way of doing something and looking for the wisdom of Jesus in the words and actions of my brother or sister in Christ: expecting to find the goodness of Jesus in a form I have not seen or appreciated before.
Where I look at the unique gifts He has imparted in me and those around me with wonder, expecting to find His goodness there, my heart will be much more open to seeing and receiving it. But where I walk around expecting to be the same as others, I will inevitably either turn to hide my gifts in embarrassment or to criticise the God-given gifts of others – neither being conducive to: “moving rhythmically and easily with each other”.
This is partly what has moved a friend of mine and I to plan a series in which we will share (through interviews) the stories of people of different cultures, personalities and giftings. We both yearn to help ourselves and others appreciate and honor the unique pieces of God’s Body. And we also want to praise God for growing such unique giftings in and through physical, emotional and psychological pain and hardship: for turning what is meant to harm us into good.
The more we come to understand our and others’ unique calling, experiences and circumstances, the more we will be able to “mov[e] rhythmically and easily with each other”. And isn’t this truly our desire as Christ followers? Don’t we all want to “grow up healthy in God, robust in love”?
Not one of us is immune to suffering. So many of us have experienced loss, rejection, trauma and/or deep hurt. But often we decide to keep working, to keep going and to keep numbing that which we are terribly scared will break us into tiny little pieces. Love Embraced, released onAmazon May 5th, records the author’s own journey through such suffering, in: caring for her mother dying of cancer, grieving her mother’s death, her diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and working through repressed childhood memories.
But, it also reveals how in starting to face that which she was too frightened to face, she began to embrace and be embraced by a mighty God into: freedom, hope, comfort, peace, strength and deep joy.
Anna’s dear friend Emily Stephenson is also promoting the book with beautiful handmade jewelry, inspired by #LoveEmbraced. Below is an example of what you can find at The Wildflower Heart: