Romans 12:6-8 (New Living Translation)
6 God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. 7 If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
As the silver-haired woman walked up the long drive, she could see him peering through the window. Every day it was the same thing; she would come to clean up the house and he would just sit there in his wheel chair staring out the window. Oh, he could speak alright, but I suppose he simply chose not to. And who could blame him? Ever since the accident five years ago, the once familiar faces that used to fill this large home with life began to slowly drift away, much like his once positive attitude.
"Good morning, sir", Helen, the housekeeper stated as she walked through the door.
Charles, the thirty-five-year-old paraplegic whose house it was, grunted.
"Cat got your tongue again today, sir?" Retorted Helen coyly as she began to put away the dishes on the counter.
Again Charles simply grunted and continued to stare out the window.
The day progressed and Helen went about dusting, polishing, sweeping and washing. It was a particularly dreary afternoon due to what seemed like an all-day rain. Feeling her mood drop a little, and knowing how much a good ditty raised her spirits, Helen turned on the radio, going from station to station in an effort to find just the right song. Just as she found a lively polka, suddenly a loud roar pierced the melodic tones coming from the radio.
"Turn that garbage off!" Demanded Charles, his face contorted with anger.
Helen was so caught off guard by the sudden strong display of emotion that, in her attempt to quickly turn the radio off, she accidentally broke the nob completely off. With polka music now blaring, Helen momentarily stood expressionless. Then, all of a sudden, her lip began to crinkle, and then tremble, and from the depths of her belly came the most delightful and prolonged laugh! Glancing over, Helen could not believe her eyes! Her wheel chair-bound boss was also chuckling heartily!
Upon composing themselves and unplugging the radio, Charles used his eyes to motion for Helen to come near him. Helen knelt near his wheel chair to ensure that they could face one another.
"I am so very sorry for yelling at you, Helen", stated Charles as he stared intensely at the elderly woman's face. "I dont know what came over me, not just at that moment, but ever since I've been a prisoner to this wheel chair. Hearing the music was yet another cruel and painful reminder of what I have lost, and never will have again.
Helen didn't say a word, but merely held Charles' limp hand and listened.
"At one time I used to love music, dancing, reading, and the arts in general. All of that died when I became paralyzed. Look at my life now. I have nothing."
Tears began to roll from Charles eyes. Helen let go of Charles' hand, and began to dig through her purse, immediately grasping a tiny framed picture.
"Look at this picture, and tell me what you see", she quietly asked Charles as he looked at her puzzled.
"It's blank. Nothing is there. It's just white", replied Charles.
Helen smiled subtly, and said, "Oh no, sir. It is a beautiful snow fall, or perhaps it is a fluffy white cotton ball, or a crisp white bed sheet hanging outside on a line outside to dry." She continued, "That picture is like ones life. Either it can remain a blank canvas, or we can make something beautiful and meaningful out of it. The choice is ours."
"No, said Charles, I didn't have a choice. My choice was stolen away!"
Helen smiled again and quietly replied, "I beg to differ, sir. You still have choices, but you just need to be a bit more creative by digging a little deeper, so that you can see what those choices might be."
Charles now clung to her every word. "I don't understand what you mean. Please explain."
Helen thought a moment; then her eyes lit up. "You like music and dancing, right, sir?"
"No, I USED to enjoy dancing to good music!" Abruptly stated Charles.
"No, sir, if you loved it once, you will still love it, but remember what I said; be creative!" Stated Helen assuredly, and she moved his one good finger over the switch that made his electric wheel chair move. She then walked over to the radio and plugged it back in to the wall, the robust polka music still playing. Up and down went the click of Charles' switch, and back and forth went his wheel chair. Charles smiled richly, then clicked the tiny lever to the right, then left, and round and round went his wheel chair!
"Look, Helen! I'm dancing! I'm dancing to the music!"
Helen nodded, grinning from ear to ear as she reached over to momentarily stop Charles' chair from moving two and fro.
"There's more, sir", stated Helen. "Remember how, before your accident, you always used to say that you loved being around little children because they were so full of promise? Well, there is no reason why you can't still live out that dream by being a little creative. You may not be able to push a child on a swing at the playground, but the local library has been searching high and low for someone to fill the part-time position of storyteller in the children's reading room."
For the first time in a very long time, within Charles eyes, Helen could see life and hope. She did all she could to keep herself from crying at that moment; however, these would be tears of joy.
With new, bright eyes, Charles asked, Helen, "how did you get to be so wise?"
Helen looked down to her arm, and slowly began pulling up her sleeve, soon to reveal tiny numbers permanently marked on her skin.
"You see, sir, when I was a little girl, my entire family died in a concentration camp. I was the only survivor, and I had no one, not even an aunt or uncle. Like you, I felt like I had everything important taken away from me, and my future seemed very bleak. A kind couple adopted me shortly after that, and while I still missed and loved my family, I came to also love them. They showed me that we all are special in God's eyes, and that we also have special gifts that we need to discover and use so that we can help others. It is this circle of giving and receiving that life is all about. Through this I was able to experience joy again."
Helen then reached into her purse again to fumble with the tiny framed picture.
"They are the ones who gave me the tiny white picture many years ago, and before I left for college they told me that what that picture reflects is up to ME."
Charles sat motionless, once again staring momentarily out the window, then stated with new found resolution, "Helen, tomorrow is going to be a brand new day; the beginning of my new life!"
Christ has given each of us special abilities and it is up to us to use these gifts for the good of mankind. For some people, that gift might be the ability to be a teacher, good public speaker, author, doctor or nurse. For others, it might be someone who has a special way of dealing with and helping people. Perhaps your gift is to be a day care provider, or retired grandparent who volunteers time at the local community center helping young children to swim. Regardless of what our life circumstances are, God's desire is not for us to abandon these gifts merely because times may get tough. Instead, as the above story reflects, He wants for us to be creative and to find ways to continue on giving in one form or another so that He and His Word may be glorified.
Dear Lord we thank You for the gifts and talents that You have given to each of us. We pray today that we would never lose focus because of our circumstance but that we would continue to reach out to others in creative ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.