When I was in middle school, my mom and dad invited me to try out as many different sports as I could. In 7th grade I ran track. In 8th grade I played volleyball and tennis. I worked on my soccer skills with the rec leagues. I played softball in the summer.
Instead of focusing on one single activity, their thought was I should find out what I was actually good at and enjoyed doing. How would I know if I didn’t try them out?
What I quickly learned was that I didn’t have the hand-eye coordination for tennis. I didn’t have the stamina for long-distance running or a fast game like basketball. But I was great at sacrificing my body. I didn’t care if I got hurt… I was good at hustling and diving if need be in order to get to a ball and make a play.
On the volleyball court, I was a scrappy setter – not only able to get into position, but also able to recover those bumps that went off kilter.
In softball, I found myself playing catcher – diving to the sides if need be to trap those wild pitches and save a stolen base.
I earned bumps and bruises, but I also found my game… I found my place… that connection point between my skills and the needs of a team and I found myself as the starting varsity goalie for the high school soccer team my sophomore year.
As I think about my experiences with sports, I think about what Paul said to the Corinthian people. I don’t run without purpose, he writes… but I punish my body – I’m staying in top condition – I am working hard to accomplish my goals. I am going to have the discipline and the focus to actually run this race and win it.
He is comparing the Christian faith to an athletic competition… as we follow Jesus Christ, we need to practice our discipleship. We need to give it our all in order that we might one day cross the finish line and enjoy life eternal with our Lord.
Something that I have realized, however, is that we are not all running the same race. This is not a competition between you and me.
No, each of us has a race to run, a game to play, a course to chart. Each of us has been called to use the best of what we have got to serve the Lord.
Just as I would never survive a marathon… you might not last long in the goalie box. We have been blessed with different gifts – different skills and abilities – and we need to discover those gifts and use them to the best of our ability as we love and serve the Lord.
So what is your race? What is your game? Where does God want you focus your energy?
Today, I want to invite us to discover those gifts by taking a simple inventory. I am going to read off a number of statements and for each one, you will be invited to respond with a number on your sheet. There is a scale from 1-7… with a 7 meaning that the statement ALWAYS describes you and a 1 meaning that it NEVER describes you.
I want you to hear very plainly… there are no wrong answers. Think about what your first gut response answer would be and record in on the sheet.
Each one of us has been blessed in different ways – we each have a race to run, a game to play. And this tool will help us to narrow our focus and find those places where we can truly soar.
(take spiritual gifts inventories)
May God grant us grace to claim and celebrate these gifts… and may we not be afraid to use them. May we run with a clear goal ahead of us, may we play with a purpose. Amen and Amen.
Invitation to respond and give these gifts sheets to the Lord – a symbol that we will let God use us to reflect the light of Christ to those we meet.