Thursday, August 21, 2014

Treasure Hunting: Pelicans

Have you ever seen one up close?
At the beach I was drawn to them. My attention darted to them and my gaze fixed on them.

Rarely do they walk around on the shore. Their feathers are the color of driftwood. Their long necks and heads seem out of proportion and lack grace in the curvature. These birds sit on the surface of the water bobbing, heads bent over and chin tucked tightly to their chests.
When walking around in the sand they are not in their element.
I followed them everywhere.
One morning Steve and I were out walking. A pelican walked on the shore too, snapping at the water and scooping something into its great cavernous bill. Then it would lift its gangly neck straight up and swallow. More gulping than swallowing. That’s when I really realized how gawky, awkward and ugly they are. Up close and personal they are a very strange looking bird.
That morning I followed this bird down the beach. I kept getting closer and closer. I almost got close enough to touch it. And then it flew away.

In the air this ugly, ungainly bird transformed.

Its neck and head shifted into a straight line, only the smooth rise of its head set above its wingspan—which was enormous. It wings spread and pulled at the air lifting it higher and higher with speed. But also with an agility and grace that was absent when on the shore.
In flight this bird did what it was designed to do.
And dive.
To watch a pelican dive is astonishing. If you don’t train your eye to stay with them you will miss the landing, miss the scoop. That great awkward bill, which on shore was cumbersome, now is efficient and elegant. Gone was the strange, ugly bird on the shore.
We are like the pelicans.
Sometimes on shore, in places we have not been gifted, we feel and seem awkward and gawky and ugly. We are out of our element. We are walking outside our realm of giftedness. Our gait on shore is ungainly and choppy. Grace seems to be absent. Elegance seems faded.
But in the air.
In the air we are doing what we were meant to do. When we are walking in the gifts God has given us then we fly. Wings outstretched. Neck elongated. Bill lifted and extended. And suddenly we are flying. The awkwardness falls away. Our unsightly gait becomes soaring.
There may only be short seasons of this flight. Only brief moments of lucidity. Of clarity.
Often times I try to move outside of my giftedness. I attempt to be or do something the Spirit did not give. Did not bestow. During these times out-of-my-element I expend more energy, acquire more stress, become more discouraged and develop more insecurity.
I rarely spotted a pelican on the shore. Only twice.  They tended not to hang out there. Instead they spread their wings and did what they were made to do. Fly.
You and I were created to fly. In whatever matter and manner that translates. Paul explains this to us in Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

We are given gifts by and through the Holy Spirit for the equipping  and building up of the Body of Christ. When we operate in these gifts we benefit, but even more God’s Body benefits.  
The Body of Christ in all its various and sundry places needs its people operating in their gifts. This Body needs its teachers to teach and its preachers to preach and its prophets to exhort and its pastors to shepherd and its administrators to administer.
The pelican taught me a great lesson.
Now, when I struggle with that awkward and gawky gait I ask myself a question. Am I moving in the giftings God has given me? Am I attempting to do something the Holy Spirit didn’t intend for me to do?  Usually I have to answer the first question no and the second yes.  (There are a few exceptions: when the Lord calls me out of my comfort zone. Out of the familiar. Out of the known. In order to expand my faith and trust in Him.)
Fly, friends.
Don't spend your time and energy waddling around on the shore. Just fly. Even if it is for a brief moment.
We will be blessed when you do. We will know more of him because you do.


We were looking at each other.

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