Our gifts are not our own, they are given to us by God, and as such we are meant to surrender them back unto the Lord.
Since a young age, Joshua Caleb struggled with his relationship with his God-given talents, using them for his own glory instead of for God’s.
This is the story of how he surrendered his gift to God and found true fulfillment.
Joshua found his first spiritual gift at the young age of thirteen, when a passion for writing and storytelling arose from deep within his soul.
During those formative years, the born-Christian teen spent his free time telling stories of bravery, love, and sacrifice, inspired by Biblical tales. Over those years, his skills matured in tandem with a personal relationship with his savior.
Around the same time he discovered his gift of storytelling, Joshua first picked up the guitar.
Shamefully, the instrument never seemed to fulfill him the way his writing had. He always felt detached and unfinished.
When the time came to enroll in college, Joshua found his gift of writing also ceased to fulfill him in the way it had before. His pieces grew increasingly worldly, lacking in the Spirit’s influence, which had previously given his work so much beauty.
You see, Joshua began to run from his Savior, and the further he ran, the less his gifts functioned in the same way as before.
During that first year of college, Joshua joined a rock band, forcing himself to learn the guitar more deeply, but still finding little beauty in it.
Though his musical talents increased, the gift felt guilty, as though every note picked and every word sung made him ill.
Joshua fell apart.
Jon Foreman, Switchfoot’s lead singer, says in his song ‘Terminal,’ “don’t let your spirit die before your body does.”
Joshua had spent two years ripping his spirit in half, one part trying to serve the world, and one part knowing that his gifts, and his purpose, only existed in service of his Savior.
The night that turned it around for Joshua came on a cloudy night, where he sat alone on a rock with his guitar, and — in tears — simply began to worship.
That night was his first taste, his first adult realization of the gifts, and purpose he had been given. “You have been set free and have become slaves to righteousness” -Romans 6:18 (NIV).
As Joshua approached the next year, he turned radically from the worldly person he had falsely attempted to be before, running toward his Savior’s purpose for him, dedicating his gifts to the One who gave him.
He was set free, and instead willingly enslaved his gifts to his Savior.
Throughout Romans 6, Paul mentions the freedom that comes with following Christ under the word of slavery.
He uses the aforementioned words of Romans 6:18, and furthermore says that “…now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”
Paul’s words fueled Joshua’s realization that the true service and fulfillment of his gifts came only with his willing, enthusiastic enslavement under God’s grace and promise.
Strangely, freedom only arrived with service.
Over the next year, Joshua devoted his musical talents instead to his campus ministry, youth ministry, and his local church.
His musical talent returned with a renewed purpose and meaning.
With it, Joshua’s writing gifts returned to serve his Maker, finding new inspiration and beauty in his uniquely given ministry. Joshua began to live in a fullness he had craved his whole life.
In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah goes out and finds Elisha, who has been chosen to be his servant and a prophet of the Lord.
When Elijah finds him, Elisha drops what he is doing, kisses his mother and father goodbye, kills his ox and burns his plowing equipment. Elisha releases his worldly wellbeing to give over all he is in service of the Lord.
This same type of occurrence is requested by Jesus in Matthew 19:21: “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’.”
These two stories demonstrate the removal of ‘the world’ from one’s life to pursue service of the Lord, to pursue fulfillment of the gifts and purpose we are given.
It was such words as these that fueled Joshua and the pursuit and service of the Lord through the gifts he was given, not only physical, but spiritual.
As Joshua continued to utilize and further his gifts in service of his spiritual calling, and to meditate on the purpose of such things, he began to see the way they were used in those around him; each no lesser used to glorify their Giver.
The gifts we are given by God are unique to each of us.
Whether the gift lies directly in the church, in technology, or in the social sphere, all of them are given with a definite way to serve the Lord. None is greater than the other.
Searching for fulfillment in the gifts you have been given cannot be found in service of the world. It can only be found in service of the Lord.
If you too are finding difficulty, or lack of beauty in your own gifts, we hope that this piece can provide a new perspective.
True life with our Savior comes when we ‘burn the plow,’ when we give up all and follow Him. There is no gift He won’t use, and it is never too late to give them over for the use of our Creator’s plan.