You ever find yourself in a place where the old ways that have served you no longer feel like a fit? Where the gifting you’ve always operated in is just not working anymore?
Keep reading, then, if that is your situation. For the past couple months I’ve been undergoing a change that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. All the ways I’ve known how to live my life and cope have lost their ability to bring balance and purpose to me. It is a very uncomfortable place to be.
When I refer to gifting I am writing specifically about Holy Spirit gifting. It is the charismatic gift, given to the believer, to do things within the body of Christ that builds up other believers. It can be, (but is not limited to), teaching, prophesying, singing, administrative ability, giving, empathy, and so on.
Heading into a season when it starts to become clear for you that the Holy Spirit wants to make an exchange with you: what He’s already given you for what He now wants to pour out on you, can be somewhat overwhelming. It is natural for our identity to become tied to what we can ‘do’ in our gifting. We think of ourselves as what we can accomplish through the things that we are known for.
It is an inequitable exchange. You lay down the little that you’re accustomed to, so your hands may be open to receive the bigger new that He wants you to operate in. This is probably not a thought that brings you comfort when the gifting you’ve thrived in for so long now seems inept.
With God a thousand years is like a day, and a day like a thousand years. (2 Peter 3:8), so from the moment He starts to whisper to you that it’s time to lay down the gifting, until He fills you up with what you will need for the next season in your life, can feel like an eternity. It is an empty, barren place that He fills up with Himself, if we allow Him. Your identity as you’ve known it is no longer there. Here is where you have to start to think of yourself in terms of how the Father sees you because of the justification and restoration that Jesus bought for you with His death and resurrection, because there is nothing else that you can identify yourself by anymore.
This season is only scary because it is unfamiliar to you. It isn’t unfamiliar to the Father, though. He has already gone before you; and the new gifting, (whether it’s a double portion of the former, a totally new gift, or a combination of the two), is part of the plan that He has had for you from the beginning.
It is not easy being without the gifting that has cradled your identity for so long, but in your heart of hearts you know that God is not going to leave you gift-less. You’re faced with the options of either hang on to what you know, or let go and trust Him. At first it might be difficult, but the more you mull it all over, the more sure you become that this gift you are comfortable with is no good if it is not blessed by the Holy Spirit; and so you lay it down.
For a while life is unrecognizable. All you can make out for sure is your barrenness. Where you were once ‘good for something’, you now feel ‘good for nothing’. How can you bless others and build them up now? Others have depended on you to operate in this way, living your life exercising gifts that they draw from. Now, with those gifts laying at your feet, unusable – but in such easy reach that you can just pick them back up again – you find that now you are alone with your Father, in a raw, exposed, vulnerable state because as much as you trust Him, you have no idea what’s next.
You have the choice to complain or submit. Let me reiterate that this is not what the world calls ‘reinvention of self’. You are not looking at your life trying to figure out what you are going to change and/or fix. This is a time of submission to the Holy Spirit’s direction. You acknowledge that He is the giver of the gifts you need for the next season in your life. You can’t dictate what those gifts are because you don’t know what is around the corner – only the Father does.
So you pray, you praise, you worship, and you keep going on with your life. It is not comfortable but you keep doing what you know to do. Life doesn’t feel like it used to, so your trust kicks into action, and grows. You remember times in the past when God has asked you to give up something you loved and how He rewarded your obedience with something so much better. Your prayer becomes, ‘Lord, I don’t like this; but I will not operate in any gift unless You are right there in it. I know how to do life with the gifts I had before, and I don’t understand why You can’t just build on what I had before; why You feel the need for me to lay it all down. But, I will obey You, even though this feels like a matter of identity for me. And I will wait for You.’
One good thing about being in a place like this is that you become open to trying new things, some of which you may never have considered as a possibility only a few months before. You consider different people, activities, and conversations that before would have been brushed off because you didn’t have the time. Now though, your regular coping mechanisms and thought patterns lay on the floor at your feet, and you know you’re not picking them up again because you can’t go back when you know without a doubt that there is a promise of more. So, you have to find other things to fill your time, to help you cope, and to facilitate self-expression.
You beg others to pray for you, because you recognize your need and your emptiness. You wait expectantly for the change you know is coming but that is out of your hands. You are transitioning before your very eyes but you don’t know what you will look like on the other side. You don’t know anything except that you trust your Father with your life.
1 Corinthians 12 & 1 Corinthians 14
©Debbie Mendoza, July 2019
Also by this author: JoyHope – A Christian Daily Devotional. Ebook available on Amazon.