At some point in our lives most of us ponder a version of the question: ‘Who am I?’ We all want to understand who we are, our value and how we fit into the world. In response to this question, Kelly Cooper unpacks another type of gift this Christmas, the gifts God has placed within each of us.
Our family is like many others. We begin Christmas mornings with our own set of intentional and quirky traditions: an obligatory family photo beside the Christmas tree, a spirited race to see who can eat their chocolate Santa first and the excitement of opening Christmas presents.
We take turns handing out gifts, savouring each moment as we unwrap them. It’s a fun way to begin a busy day. When the last gift has been opened and gratefully received and the wrapping paper recycled, we sit down to breakfast. Never has there been a gift left unopened under our Christmas tree. That would be unthinkable, not to be curious about what was inside, to leave a gift behind.
Who am I?
We are wonderfully made by a Creator who has given us each talent, strengths and interests. There is not a person alive who has not been gifted by God. We might know and accept some of our gifts—the things we are naturally good at, the things we are passionate about, the skills that others call out and see in us. But many of us stop there. We don’t look for more or take the time to explore all the ways we can contribute to our world. We live within our self-imposed limits of who we are and what we are capable of.
In the Bible in Exodus 3, Moses had an identity crisis that many of us can relate to. When God appeared to Moses and told him that he would be the one to lead the Israelites out of slavery, he replied, ‘Nope, you’ve got the wrong guy!’ His actual words were: ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ (Exodus 3:11b). What Moses was really asking God was, ‘Have you equipped me for this mission? Do I have the skills within me to do what you are asking?’ Moses doubted and underestimated his own potential.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines potential as ‘someone’s or something’s ability to develop, achieve or succeed’. Potential includes all the unrealised or untapped abilities and qualities that are yet to be developed within us.
That is what happened to Moses. He believed the lie that he didn’t have what it takes. Most of us can relate. We tend to think too small, pray too small and live too small. This kind of thinking stifles what God can do in us and through us. It can also keep us from realising our full potential.
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The great news for those of us who follow Jesus is that our potential isn’t about how far we can go alone, but with God. When we develop and use what he has given us, we unlock the potential he has placed within us. Our God designs us as unique individuals. There will never be anyone else who can do exactly what he has prepared for you to do.
Realising our full potential always involves taking action. It can be scary to take our first steps and to try something new, especially in areas where we feel inexperienced or unskilled. I find it interesting that God does not address Moses’ concerns about his competence or capabilities. Instead, he says, ‘I will be with you’. Moses didn’t leave their conversation convinced he was capable of the task ahead of him, but he did leave with the knowledge that he wasn’t called to do it alone.
We often doubt our ability to do what God has called us to do. We focus on our weaknesses, past mistakes and flaws and assume that those will negatively impact what we can accomplish. But God knows us better than we know ourselves, and our shortcomings do not limit the potential he has put inside of us.
Just like with Moses, God reveals his gifts to us over time. At the right moment, God will illuminate something within us that we haven’t noticed. In his wisdom he does not give us our gifts all at once. It’s a lifelong journey to unwrap our God-given potential.
Popular opinion suggests that our potential is out there somewhere waiting to be discovered. Perhaps instead our potential is not something we have to search for, but rather something that we are asked to receive, like a collection of Christmas gifts under a tree. We have the joy of unwrapping and enjoying each one of them. God has placed within you more than you realise. Is it time to accept and embrace your unopened gifts?