No, I am not special.

Not particularly gifted.

Not the recipient of a trust fund.

Not unusually smart.

Not even close to good looking.

Not lucky by any stretch of the imagination.

In fact if one were to take the time pull apart all of the pieces of my life and lay them out, you would find an incredibly long list of things that could only be filed under the section titled “problems”.    This week alone has been one of the most trying in our time here in Ethiopia, it feels that everything that could have gone wrong in all that I put my hands to, did go wrong.   I am not exaggerating for effect when I say that I got four flat tires this week before Tuesday, and that was just the start of it, things went downhill from there, and fast.  

Yet if you were to ask me to identify my life I would use one word;  Extraordinary.   Because you see I love my life, I love the beautiful woman I get to share it with, I love the kids that I have been given, and I am filled with optimism about the future and my part in making it better.

And the reason why I am writing this crazy sounding stuff today is because I think that we all should love our lives too.   Hear me out…

Yesterday Jessie and I ran into some old friends here in Ethiopia named Rolf and Angela, as often happens with couple relationships Rolf and I wandered around to the back of the car while Jessie and Angela stood by the hood talking.  (I am not sure why that is with men and women, but it always seems to work out that way.)  Anyhow in the middle of our “man” conversation, Rolf said something to me that got me thinking.  Before I tell you what it is though I realize I should give a little context first.  Rolf and Angela are from Canada and live way out in the bush of Ethiopia as missionaries, I haven’t seen their house but from what I understand that to find their place you set your GPS to “Middle of nowhere” then you keep driving for another 5 hours and then turn left next to a big tree to find their house.   They live out there to share the gospel of Jesus with as many people as they can.  They have started a network of churches and are literally giving their lives to show Jesus’ love to those who have never heard.  They are the kind of couple that make me feel like I am super insignificant and that everything I do in my life is about an inch high.   These guys are the real deal.

Anyhow, Rolf and I are talking behind the car about how they got new tires on their Land Cruiser (They have one of those square looking Toyota Land Cruisers that has been the vehicle of choice for all missionaries for the past 50 years), and how these tires are the best for the kind of driving that they do.  Then I ask him how their work is going and he says to me;

“Great! We have come to the place where we realized in our churches that only three people get to do all of the ministry, but in reality everyone in the congregation was given a gift of some sort that they need to be using for God, so we are reworking what we do and helping everyone in the church find their gifts and giving them a chance to put them to use” 

When he said it I just nodded and let it pass, seemed logical. Right?  But later as I thought about what he said some more I began to realize how important this is. And I don’t just mean for the church to be reconsidering they way ministry happens, I think churches have struggled with that specific reality for generations.  What I mean is on the individual level, for the person in the congregation, the gift you have been given is the key to unlocking the extraordinary life that God wants for you. 

I wondered as I lay in bed several hours later if it is really possible to live a great life without knowing what your gift is.

Sounds strange I know, but stay with me.  

I think we would all agree (those of use who come to the conversation with a basic agreement of Jesus forgiveness of our sins, and God being the creator of all that exists) that God does give a crap about us.  He did not just put us here on this earth and let us go about our business.  I believe he also gave us all a gift, a talent and then put us in a world with a million different opportunities that will come up in our life to make the world a better place by the application of those gifts. 

I decided to write those post not because of my conversation with Rolf, but because of the countless different conversations I have had with people in my life in the past few years.  People who are complaining about life, complaining about circumstances, struggling with this or that, and unable to see beyond the issues that life has brought along.   Don’t get me wrong, I have done my share of complaining, and I am by no means above any of this, I am pretty bad when it comes to getting into a funk of living life without perspective.  I just think that there is something to this gifting thing, and that we should be looking closely at this to help us unlock what it is that God is asking us to be doing with our lives. 

I am one of those people who thinks that Christians have a job here on this earth, I believe we should be out in front of the crowd pulling everyone along with us towards a better life here on earth, as well as showing them the hope that they have in what comes after this earth is done.  Not that I am all about prosperity gospel, just the opposite.   What I am all about is HOPE, and when I read my bible I see that the son of God came to this earth to show hope to those in need.  He dug low, went down to the sleazy sinners and gave them just what they needed.

Hope.

I am writing this post today as an encouragement to all of us.  It is time today to climb to the top of the nearest tree and look out above the forest to see the beyond that we are all working towards.   No we don’t always have to live up here in the trees, but we must take the time to stop moving along the ground and get perspective on why it is that we are here, and what it is that we are doing.   Can you feel the breeze on your face?  Can you feel the trees swaying in the wind?  Can you see out above the forest the amazing beauty that God has called you to?  

God put each and every one of us on this earth with a purpose, and I would propose that barely one day goes by without us being given an opportunity to show hope to those around us as part of that purpose.  

Friends, your life is amazing, it is an epic journey on an incredible path through a beautiful forest, and everything that you see from the steps that you take each day along the forest floor to the view from above the canopy of trees was made by the most incredible God who looks at your dreams and begs you to reach further, to ask for more, to be amazing at changing the world around you.  

Don’t let the journey pull you down, don’t let the struggles that you face determine who you are and how you live your life.   Climb the tree with me today and lets look at what God made.  It is incredible. 

Levi

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