Who’s On Your Team?


Jen’s Gem: With God on your team, anything is possible!

Yesterday I attempted to do something I hadn’t done in years. I was in Long Island for the Thanksgiving holiday and as I was leafing through the newspaper, I came across the crossword puzzle. My Dad and I would work on this every time I visited and I have often written of his puzzle prowess.

I read the first clue. Nothing. I read the second clue. Nothing. This went on for a bit and after a few minutes, I was convinced that every word I ever knew had suddenly been sucked out of my brain and I would be left with monosyllabic utterances for the rest of my life.
I was finally able to fill in one of the blank boxes and felt a sense of accomplishment. I won’t share how long it took me, however, you can see from the photo that there are quite a few blank boxes remaining. Perhaps my older brother will attempt to complete the puzzle. I pray he doesn’t laugh at my inadequacy.
As I sat at the kitchen table where my father and I often collaborated, an ache filled my heart. Tomorrow marks one year since his passing and I would’ve given nearly anything to have him sit next to me, pencil in hand, and quickly scribble in answers to the clues that confounded me. How I would’ve loved to hear him say after we had completed the puzzle, “We make a good team.”

Recently, I heard a song on the radio that reminded me of my father’s words. It’s a new song by a group called “The Afters” and it speaks to this theme of a job being well done, a sense of accomplishment – not for the completion of a crossword puzzle, but for our lives.
It’s referenced in the gospel of Matthew 25:23. The gist of the parable that Jesus speaks of is relatively simple.  Three men are given varying amounts of gold and instructed to watch over them while the master of the house goes on a journey.
The one with the most gold, five bags, invested it and doubled his portion. The one given two bags of gold followed suit. However, the one who was given one bag of gold, buried it because he was afraid of losing it. You can understand that the master was quite happy with the first two men and rewarded them greatly. However, the third man received nothing. He’d been entrusted with a treasure and instead of making use of it, growing it, he did nothing. His fear kept him from his reward.
How often do we let our own fears keep us from doing the things we know we should do or want to do? How often do we, like that “one-bag servant,” hide our gifts under a rock, afraid to take that leap of faith? Through my Bible studies, I have learned that this spirit of fear is not from God. In 2 Timothy 1:7, it clearly states this:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Power. Love. A sound mind. Those are pretty good gifts wouldn’t you say? As we are made in God’s image, He can only give us things that are of Him. Let’s look at this in human terms. If both of your parents are 100% Italian, it’s highly unlikely – impossible even – that you will be Irish. Same thing with God. He cannot and did not give us what He is not.
Spoiler alert. There’s nothing bad or negative or fearful or powerless in God. Nothing. So if we are made in His image – there’s nothing bad or negative or fearful or powerless in us.
Recently, a dear cousin of mine told me that my daughter looks exactly like me.  She has my blue eyes and her physical appearance resembles mine more than her father. Her Type A personality also mimics mine as does her goal-oriented nature.  However, she also inherited my overbite, which needed braces to correct. Teenage acne also plagued her as it did me.
While I wish I could’ve given both of my kids only my positive traits, guess what? They got some of the not so positive stuff. 
Because I didn’t know about all of the great things God had given me – His promises – I developed habits and behaviors that limited the success I could’ve had in my life. I don’t want that for my kids and neither does God as our Father.
From the moment of Adam and Eve’s creation, God has been speaking blessings over His children. It is His intention that we all be blessed. It is His intention that we all live lives of purpose and power. He’s given us everything we need to do just that.
But do you and I take advantage of these gifts or do we ignore or bury them, like the man with the one bag of gold above? Perhaps it’s neither. Perhaps it’s simply because we were unaware of their existence.  Now that I’ve learned of these great gifts, I’m like a dog on a bone trying to replace past false beliefs and live a life that is aligned with God’s intention for me. It’s a slow process – steps forward and backward – but I’m making progress.
This week, I’d like to encourage you to read the parable in Matthew. What God-given gifts or talents are you burying that may be keeping you from living the life God intended? With God’s help, you can overcome your fears and live a doubly-blessed life.Then, when it’s all over, you can hear Him say, “We make a good team.”

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