(#4 excerpt from Introductory Ch. 1 "Climbing to my summit")
Embracing my gifts
College was a defining period in my life when I sought for and formulated a world view based on sincere inquiry into the basis for my Christian faith. That provided me with a satisfactory frame for the picture that would be my life.
I decided not to care what people say or think, if I know clearly what God wants me to do. That was a major decision with far reaching consequences that flew in the face of my strong desire and need to be approved by others and accepted by my peer group. It was hard on my inferiority complex to become still more “different” when I married someone from another culture and anticipated spending a lifetime identifying with that culture overseas.
I envied my friends who were obviously more gifted and talented than I. Eventually I decided to stop whining about what I lacked. I thought God passed me by when He gave out His gifts. Eventually I decided not to look back over my shoulder at my disastrous failure at piano lessons! God intended a different keyboard for my fingers—it was to be the computer keyboard for word processing which had not even been invented until decades later. I finally discovered and accepted with joy God’s gift to me of creative writing. That bolstered my self-worth and enabled me to have a fruitful lifetime of service for God. In embracing my gift, developing, exercising, and teaching others the writing skill, I discovered not only one gift but a cluster of gifts. In my adult years writing led to speaking, teaching, traveling, publishing, broadcasting, and related ministries. Even now I am unwrapping new gifts within that one generous gift from God.
Decisions while climbing
I was open to marry and have children, if God willed it so. That choice opened a whole world. God’s blessing, in turn, gave me a wonderful husband and four wonderful sons whom I thoroughly enjoy, respect and value at every age and stage of their lives from infancy to manhood. Each one of my six feet tall “Chinese Czechers” is the Master Artist’s “original,” blessed and gifted by his Creator in unique and diverse ways. That led to the bonus delight in my daughters-in-law (whom I call “daughters-in-love”) and my ten (current count) grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren (so far).
I agreed with God that my character was more important than my accomplishments. I began to understand, during my years of active ministry, that being and doing go hand in hand but we are created by God primarily to be in His presence and communicate with Him as His highest desire for us. He wants time with His children—to talk with and listen to them. God did not create us primarily to be His servants. He created ministering angels to do His work, and He invites our co-labor to help build His Kingdom. But God desires above all my “first love” and values time spent in His presence waiting on Him, more than busy Christian activity (Revelation 2:2-4). That doesn’t demean service for God but puts it in proper perspective. I am still learning this lesson.
I came to understand that I wouldn’t be able to—because I couldn’t—live up to God’s standards. I discovered in my late childhood and early teens that in spite of my will power and good intentions, I could never live up to my endless good resolutions. I failed over and over. I wanted to do better, but I didn’t have the power in myself to do so. I thought I had to work really hard to live up to His commandments—not only the original ten but the thousands of others in the Bible.
Then I discovered in the Scriptures that being “born again of water and the spirit” meant that God implants His new, supernatural life within me and provides me with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to please Him. He never intended for me to conjure up my own goodness. God’s law and commandments were meant to show me that I couldn’t do it on my own. On the cross, Jesus Christ already did everything that needed to be done to atone for my sins and to obtain my salvation. I realized that truth early in life, but the process of understanding its depths and living it out continues.
Overlaying that truth, there is another critical one: The fullness of the Holy Spirit, as taught in Scripture, is essential for living victoriously and abundantly and serving God with power. Whatever theological terms one might use to describe that experience, God wants us to pursue it and continue in that fullness as a priority.