If there were no tribulation, there would be no rest; if there were no winter, there would be no summer.
Saying farewell to summer is bitter and sweet when you live in Minnesota. Bitter because it means that winter is drawing nigh, but sweet because we are standing on autumn’s threshold. The sweet fragrance of summer is transitioning into the intoxicating, woodsy aroma of autumn, and I absolutely love it. If there was a way to bottle it and save some for winter, I would! I have a number of friends who love summer best, and while I am delighting in the arrival of fall, they are mourning the death of summer. A verse of Scripture from the ICB translation comes to mind as I think about these things.
The Lord makes the clouds. He sends the showers. And He gives everyone green fields.
The seasons all belong to Him. He makes the clouds. He sends the storms. The sunshine of summer and the crisp autumn nights laced with woodsmoke are gifts from Him. My thoughts often turn toward the Bible when the scent of woodsmoke is in the air. I can’t help but wonder if the aroma drifting to the heavens from burnt offerings – recorded all the way back in the book of Genesis – delighted God like the distinctive smell of wood burning delights me.
On one of the days of summer, someone I love dearly made a statement that captivated my soul like the scent of woodsmoke. We were talking about the ministry and mission of Ruby Buckle and about how God gives each of us unique gifts to use for His purposes. Shortly after becoming a Christian, I had the opportunity to take a test that assesses spiritual gifting. Top on my scorecard was the gift of encouragement. Results a decade later revealed the same. On the eve of launching Ruby Buckle, a friend of mine who has administered tests like these asked me if I would be interested in taking one again.
In the early years of my employment as an art director, I worked for a company that required all of its managers to take an annual skills/personality assessment test. I found the results each year to be fascinating. There was always change! It seemed that the job itself was molding you into a better version of yourself for the position that you held. Each year brought marked progress.
Thoughts of this came back to me, and I couldn’t resist finding out if the years that had passed since taking the previous assessment tests had changed me once again. What a joy it was to discover that “faith” had taken the number one spot, with “encourager” coming in at a close second. I have no recollection of faith even registering on those tests years ago. How delighted I was to learn of this change.
The statement shared with me this summer was simply this: “Colleen, you are asking people to do something which is second nature to you.” To encourage others.
What an interesting thought it was. Not too many days later, on the heels of a street prayer outreach to our community, I found myself in a wonderful conversation in the foyer of our church with my pastor, our worship leader and a cherished prayer partner about this very topic – gifts and callings. I said “yes” to joining the team for this outreach with a twinge of reluctance because it is not my natural area of gifting ... marked progress. There was a sense of conviction that if I’m inviting people to do something outside of their gifting, I’d better be willing to join others at their invitation. I’m so glad that I did.