"Mom, why haven't you used the cutting board I gave you for Christmas?"
Elisabeth, home from college for summer break, pulled out the locally crafted cutting board from the bottom cupboard. It looked as new as the day she gifted it to me. I had been delighted when she shared how she managed to surprise me without my having an inkling of what she'd been up to. A mutual friend had made it. A work of art. A wonderful gift. A treasure.
I felt a little guilty now as I eyed the unused gift on the counter. My daughter didn't give it to me to collect dust. She wanted me to benefit from it, to enjoy it. Why hadn't I used it? I saw it every day when I pulled out the old cutting board. And I liked it - a lot. Perhaps it was because I didn't want to mar the surface, to mess it up.
Later that day Elisabeth and I chatted about God's gifts. Like her, God gives us gifts to USE, not to neglect in a dark corner of our lives. He gifts us with time, material resources, abilities, and spiritual gifts. We looked up several verses that highlighted the fact that God wants us to USE His gifts:
1 Peter 4:10: "Each of you should USE whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms . . . so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ."
Romans 12:6: "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us USE them . . ."
So why then, do we hesitate to use the gifts of God? Perhaps for the same reason I didn't use my cutting board: We don't want to mess things up. We fear we won't use them well enough. We fail to acknowledge the significance of what it will mean to the Giver and how His power complements our human offerings.
Like Elisabeth, God is disappointed and grieved when we neglect the gifts He's chosen to give us . . . gifts paired perfectly with the "good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10).
We've been using my cutting board a lot this week. It already shows signs of wear . . . and yet my daughter is glad to finally see me use it. The grooves and stains represent the shared experiences of cooking, hospitality, and laughter along with savoring our few weeks together before she heads off for a summer internship.
This time, when she's away, I'll use her gift. And it'll remind me of the importance of using God's gifts to serve others . . . for His glory.
What about you? Together, let's dust off those neglected gifts and USE them!