“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 NIV
Sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do for someone is wash their car. I recently started listening to the book, “The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look and Listen to Life” by Frederick Buechner. The premise of the book is to listen to your life to find your gifts. In other words, what do you like to do that makes you glad? What do you enjoy doing? I love to write. I love to write these devotionals, I love to write the papers I have to do for my classes. When I’m writing, I feel God’s pleasure, I feel glad. For others it may be baking, or singing, or washing people’s cars. We have to listen to our lives to understand how God created us uniquely, each of us with different gifts. But how do we listen to our lives.
Buechner uses this example to help us understand what he means. Let’s say you live an hour away from a large city. You drive there often, passing through a smaller town on the way to the city. You have driven this drive so many times, you don’t even think about it while you’re actually driving. When you drive through the smaller town, you don’t even notice it. You don’t notice the people walking along the streets, you don’t notice the sales signs in the store or the flowers hanging from the lamp posts. You are on autopilot, just trying to reach your final destination. By the time you reach the city, you don’t even remember the journey. Buechner says we have to start paying attention to the journey. We have to live in the moment, looking at what is around us instead of being so focused on the destination, we miss out on what is going on right in front of us. Beuchner would argue, the journey is the destination. When you pay attention to the journey, you begin to understand the things that make you happy, which in turn, helps you understand your gift.
When you start paying attention to the journey, living in the moment, you notice the people on the street, you notice the sales signs in the window and the flowers on the lampost. When you notice the people on the street, you see the elderly lady struggling with her groceries. When you pull over to help her get them in her car, you begin to understand you like helping people, it makes you happy. Because you’ve helped this lady, a desire to help other elderly people is born and you begin to visit nursing homes. You begin to find pleasure sitting and playing a game of checkers with someone who has a lifetime of stories to share with you. All of a sudden, you have discovered a gift you never realized you had because you paid attention to the journey instead of the destination. God only knows what gifts you will discover you have when you start paying attention to the journey. You may find washing cars gives you pleasure, or maybe it’s babysitting for a friend. You’ll never know until you take your eyes off of the destination and put them on the journey.