The season of Christmas is marked with the exchanging of gifts between those we love. It is during the Easter season that we focus upon the greatest gift of all, Jesus. He is God’s greatest gift to us. His death has bought us our life. Our lives are to be a thank-you gift to God in response to His unfailing love. It is in the Easter season that a melody of praise fills our hearts and our minds. “The King of Glory comes, the nation rejoices! Open the gates before Him, lift up your voices.” Christ has died! Christ has risen! Let Him come anew in our hearts. How wide open are your gates to receive Jesus this Easter season? How joyful is your song of praise?
“I only give you good gifts,” I heard in the silence of my heart while deep in prayer. Those words heard over forty years ago, have proved true. God only gives good gifts. His gifts to me are always just my size and often the desire of my heart. What gifts has God given you? God will help you slowly and carefully unwrap the presents He has placed in your heart. These gifts, once revealed, are to be used for his glory alone. In Psalm 139 God says, “I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.” He knit you together, making you a unique creation of His love. God made us and fashioned us for a purpose. The more we get to know God the more we discover our gifts. Then He is able to more fully reveal the purpose He has for our lives. All of us have good gifts given to us by God.
Just like those men and women who served God before us, all are gifted to glorify God.
David the shepherd boy was transformed by the hand of God. David was affectionately called, “A man after God’s own heart,” although after reading his story, you might be surprised! Today his life would definitely make a juicy reality show or make the bestseller list. Hopefully none of us would tune in or read all about it. Although David was a great sinner, a mortal sinner, he knew that He served not only a holy, but also a merciful God. When David was weak, he knew that his God was strong. David knew where to go to get the grace needed to be strengthened, that of course was in God’s presence. David sinned big but He sought His bigger God, with his whole heart. He prayed, he sang, and he danced before his heavenly Father. He poured out his whole heart to God and most of all he trusted and depended on God for everything. David found His God to be faithful and true. David knew God, not just about God, because of his personal relationship with God which enabled him to praise God from His heart. David did not just go through the motions; he had a living faith in a living God. David’s heart was set on God and because of His character; God was able to use David. The purpose of David’s life was to be king. David was fearfully and wonderfully made. David was gifted by God for a purpose.
Abraham went from childless to the father of many nations with a little help from his wife Sarah. She laughed when God told her husband that she would bear a child in her ninety’s. Whenever I read her story I still laugh. Watch what you pray for. God’s ways are not our ways. Abraham was fearfully and wonderfully made! Abraham’s purpose was to be the Father of many nations. Abraham was gifted by God for a purpose.
Joseph was favored by his dad Jacob. What did his daddy give him to show his love, a coat of many colors! What did his brothers get? Jealous! Joseph went from, “bragging brother” to the man with the most brotherly love. God doesn’t always change our circumstance but truly he changes our hearts along the way. God never departed from Joseph whether He was at the right hand of the King or given an unjust jail sentence. You might say, “In this world we have much tribulation but our God delivers us out of it all.” Joseph lived out that scripture. God raised him up to be the right hand man to the Pharaoh, where he was able to provide for his family during the famine. God put him in the right place at the right time, with a small detour via a prison cell. God all along had a plan for Joseph’s life. Joseph was fearfully and wonderfully made. Joseph was gifted by God for a purpose.
Jonah was a prophet. When God spoke His word to Him, Jonah disobeyed. Instead of delivering the Word from the Lord and begging the people of Nineveh to repent, he went in another direction. Jonah thought that he had a better plan than God. Where did it get him? Jonah found himself in the belly of a whale. I think Jonah would attest to the fact that it did not turn out to be “a whale of a good time.” Ask him when you get to heaven how it feels to be spewed out of the mouth of a whale. Jonah had a change of heart, and then obeyed God. When Jonah spoke to the people of Nineveh, they listened and repented. Then God had a change of heart too. He did not destroy the people of Nineveh. God called Jonah to be His Prophet; Jonah fulfilled God’s plan. Jonah was fearfully and wonderfully made. Jonah was gifted by God for a purpose.
Joseph was a gentle man. He was called to be the foster father of Jesus, God’s son. His role was to protect, provide and be the head of the Holy family. He was Mary’s husband in every way accept, physically. Mary was a virgin. Joseph had the fruit of self-control. God chose a humble, holy man who could parent His Son on this earth. Joseph proved trust worthy. Joseph was fearfully and wonderfully made! Joseph was gifted by God for a purpose.
Peter walked and talked with Jesus daily, but when his friend Jesus needed him most, Peter ran away. Yet Peter went from being a disciple who was too afraid to stand for Jesus, to being the first Pope. His name was changed from Simon to “Peter the Rock.” It was upon that rock that God built our church; the one, holy, apostolic, Catholic Church. He may have run away in the early days but the Rock Peter stood upon became the firm foundation that holds true to this day. Jesus was faithful to Peter, even when Peter was not faithful. Peter was fearfully and wonderfully made! Peter was gifted by God for a purpose.
Mary’s “Yes” of surrender to God opened her womb to house the Savior of the world. The birth of Jesus Christ brought forth God’s plan for redemption. Jesus death brought us life. What life will your surrendered, “Yes” bring to this world? Mary was fearfully and wonderfully made! Mary was blessed among woman because she was the Mother of God. Mary was gifted by God for a purpose.
Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin though old in years, brought a young man into the world named John. He became the forerunner of the birth of Christ. His message became the Lenten message for all times. “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Elizabeth was fearfully and wonderfully made! Elizabeth was gifted by God for a purpose.
Was there purpose to the lives of these Bible characters? There was purpose, meaning and there was abundant fruit in each of their lives. The purpose unfolded as they came to know, love and serve God. There is purpose to each of our lives too. It is worth the prayer, effort and surrender needed to get to know God for ourselves. This is “Good News!”
So what purpose does God have for your life? Do you know or are you still prayerfully seeking God’s plan for your life? He has a plan, that I can assure you! He wants to reveal it to you. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, all that God has in store for those who love Him!”
Discovering your God given gifts as well your natural gifts will aid you in discovering God’s purpose for your life. Be assured your purpose will fit your gifts and your personality. Knowing your purpose and working with the Holy Spirit to live out the purpose He reveals to you, will bring you the greatest joy and bear the most fruit. Then you will walk in God’s plan for your life. Every life counts! All of us our fearfully and wonderfully made and gifted by God for a purpose. Our God’s love is so great that He loves each of us best!
The purpose for your life may be as simple as raising godly children. Who knows, right now you could be raising a priest, a nun or perhaps a saint? Your purpose may be as great as you becoming a saint, like Blessed Mother Teresa or St. Pope John Paul II. They did not always realize their purpose either. They began in prayer, seeking the face of God. This search never ends because God is infinite, so there is always more to know about Him. One thing I can assure you is that you will never know your purpose unless you begin to seek his face. Remember what St. Teresa said, “You must know yourself and know God.” You must go into the deep. Be not afraid to seek God’s face. Scriptures says, “When you seek Him, you will find Him, when you seek Him with your whole heart.” This is a promise. The first step begins with humility, by knowing you do not know all. Nobody knows all, no matter what stage of maturity in your spiritual walk. So begin today to open your heart before Him and let Him reveal Himself to you in a new way. Let Him love you. Let Him heal you on the inside. Let Him take up residence in your soul, where He belongs. “He is the vine, we are the branches, apart from Him, and we can do nothing.” “If you abide in me and my word abides in you, you can ask anything and I will do it.”
When we read the about the different people in the Bible, what did they all have in common? They sought God with their whole hearts. They became empty vessels and desired God to fill them. They placed their trust in God alone. All came to a mountain in their lives that they could not move. They came to a point in their lives where they knew, like St. Teresa of Avila, “God alone suffices.” They believed their faith with all their heart. They knew first hand that God is and was and is to come. Their surrender, “Yes,” to God changed their lives forever. They continued to live their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then they became an example of God’s love and grace in this world, actively winning souls for the kingdom of God.
“Are you there yet?” Have you come to that point in your walk that your heart is crying out, “I need you now, Lord"? Are your hearts crying out with John the Baptist, “More of Jesus, less of me"? Are you lost in the desert, like Moses and the Israelites waiting for the Red Sea to part? Are you wailing in prayer like Hannah for God to give you the desire of your heart, and the wait seems way too long? Are you running away like Peter or are you afraid to go forward like Moses? Have you come face to face with a mountain in your life that you cannot move? Or have you already heard the Lord reveal His plan for your life deep in your heart like He did when the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary? However, the plan seems too impossible to ever be fulfilled.
I come to bring “Good News.” You are right, it is impossible! It is impossible to move the mountain, without God, that is. With God all things are possible! When we come to that place where we have discovered the world has nothing that will truly satisfy; when we have the desire to be a “woman or man after God’s own Heart,” like David, it is then that God begins to reveal our own hearts to us. We quickly realize how holy He is and how much we need to change.
Mathew had to change careers from a cheating tax collector to a disciple of Christ. Peter had to give up his pride. Paul had to change his religion. Mary had to give up her reputation. Ladies, what do you have to give up in your life to make room for Christ?
As I walk through those gigantic doors of mercy into the amazing house of God in all its beauty and splendor, I always feel very small. Like a child standing next to her daddy, my littleness is evident. Our littleness should always be felt as we enter into the presence of a very holy all knowing, all good, all powerful God. We serve a God who is bigger than life itself. Our Heavenly Father created us, each unique. We are fearfully and wonderfully made for His Divine purpose. It is in His presence that you come to know the real you. His divine purpose for your life is to do a work that no one else can do. Our God loves you, as much as He loved David. Your life counts! In this big world, no matter how small you feel, you were created to make a big difference for Christ. You are to touch lives. You are to be the hands and feet of Christ in your own family, in your own neighborhood, and in your Church. So, do you know your gifts? Your gifts are given to bless others. Don’t bury your gifts or let others bury them. Present yourself as a living sacrifice for Christ. As Christ laid down his life for us in sacrificial love, we too must lay down our life for others in sacrificial love to build the kingdom of God here on earth. In the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Thy kingdom come, on earth, as it is in heaven.” Thus, we need to be grateful as well as humble and daily abandon ourselves to God’s Holy Spirit. We must willingly go where He wants us to go and do what He wants us to do. The more you use your gifts, the more God will give you places to use them and they will grow. There is much work to do in this world to bring light into the darkness.
Remember, God only gives good gifts. Never forget Jesus is the best gift of all. Accept the gifts God has given you to share with the world. Open your gift up with joy! Then pour your gifts out upon others with a generous and grateful heart. What are you waiting for? You are the present! Present yourselves as a living sacrifice gifted by God for His purpose. Go forth and bear fruit! May God be glorified in all you do!
Copyright 2016 Ellen Mongan
Photos copyright 2016 Ellen Mongan. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Ellen Mongan, a Catholic writer and speaker, has been married more than 40 years to Deacon Pat Mongan. They have 7 children and 12 grandchildren. Ellen is a host of WOW Radio Podcasts, a religious columnist for the Augusta Chronicle, and has spoken on both radio and television. She is the founder of Sisters in Christ, Little Pink Dress Ministry, and Women-Fests.