Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gifts That Take Work?

We received a gift this week. It was a wonderful gift, but it took some work. A friend called and offered us some sweet corn. She asked if we wanted to freeze some, and to be honest, I didn't really want to. I thought about the work it would take, the sticky mess to clean up afterward. But I also thought of having sweet corn this winter, so I said "Yes, we'll take it. Thanks!"

She gave us about 50 ears of delicious sweet corn and the boys grudgingly helped me shuck most of it. We ate some for supper that night, put 8 ears in the fridge for the next day, and then I got to work boiling the rest of it so I could freeze it.

 As I worked, my sanctified imagination began to churn and I found myself pondering other gifts that we get in life. God gives us many gifts and talents, but sometimes we resist them because of the work they'll take.

God gives some people musical talent, but they still usually need to put in hours of practice to hone that gift and make their voice or instrument sound the best that it can.

God gives others an artistic gift, but they need to practice and refine their skills so they can produce something beautiful for the world to enjoy.

God may give others a way with words, but they need to sit down at the keyboard and actually put some work into writing or they won't ever be able to share it with those who need to hear.

God may bless someone with children, but they can't just sit back and watch each child grow up. Hard work is involved as each child is cared for and trained.

Very few gifts can actually be used without at least some work involved.

As I sliced the juicy golden kernels of corn from the warm cob, I marveled at the simple beauty in front of me. The straight rows of kernels, the variations in color from one kernel to the next...I realized I was actually enjoying the process.

We can enjoy the process of using our talents and gifts, too, even though there may be a great deal of work to do.

But what about the mess?

When I finished my work, I had a huge pile of green corn husks and lots of empty corn cobs that needed to be hauled outside and thrown away.

During the process, I had a counter full of sticky corn juice and little kernels of corn everywhere. Since it was hot outside, we shucked the corn in the kitchen and bits of husk and corn hair littered the sink and the kitchen floor. At one point while I worked, I started to take apart the electric knife and put it away, only to realize a minute later that I still had about 6 ears of corn waiting to be cut up. A sigh, a frustrated chuckle, and a little more work to get the knife going again, but soon the work was done.

We can get frustrated while we work on the gifts God has given us as well. Music can sound bad while we work out the wrong notes and practice the hard parts. Painting can make a mess until the project is finished.  Writing can be frustrating as you search for just the right words and face rejection. Parenting can be messy as we learn to love and discipline each child in their own special way.

These gifts take work! Any gift worth having takes work, but hopefully we can find joy in the process. We can thank God for each of His good gifts and keep putting in the time and energy needed to use those gifts to the fullest.

And when we're done? When we've finished a project? We can thank God for what He's given us and move on to the next task.We can sing or play a beautiful song for a group and then move on to learn something new to share. We can hang our painting somewhere for the world to enjoy and go on to produce another artistic piece. We can write that article or book and go on to write about the next thing we have on our hearts. We can pour our love and work into our young children and then go on to influence and enjoy them as adults.

We can enjoy each gift as we work at it and use it. I'll try to remember that every time I reach into the freezer this winter and pull out a bag of delicious sweet corn!