You may think your God-given gift is a special talent in writing, music, art, etc. A special talent is something you excel at. You either practised all your life to become the best, or it just came naturally to you - like God made you for that particular purpose.
Or, your God-given gift could be what you like to do the most in life, what you enjoy doing more than anything. In truth, that could also be closely aligned with your talent. I loved singing and had a powerful soprano voice, so when I felt led into a singing career it seemed natural to do so. When I came to the realization that perhaps God gave me the gift of singing to glorify Him and spread the Gospel, I used my voice for Him, rather than for my personal gain.
Now, you will notice that I have not talked about Spiritual Gifts. There is a reason for that. These gifts are given when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. But, God-given gifts are different in that they have been with us since before we were born.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
The verse above shows that God is intimately involved in our development. He decides how we will look and instills certain character traits within us that will determine our personality, our quirks, our likes and dislikes and yes, our talents. And He creates these traits to help us as we serve Him (Ephesians 2:10).
For example, what is your best personality trait? Is it listening to others? Your sense of humour? Perhaps you are one of those people who can meet someone for the first time and immediately put them at ease. What is it about you that people will often compliment you on? I don't mean your hair, your clothes or your talents. What is it about your character that stands out the most to others?
If someone had asked me those questions seven months ago I would have said that nothing about me "stands out." But as the weeks turned into months in my hospital bed, God began to show me things about myself that I had never recognized as essential to the unique purpose and calling He had for me.
You see I always believed my purpose was to sing for God. I loved to sing, and because everyone always complimented my voice it seemed a natural career for me to pursue. I trained with a professional soloist who had dreams of sending me to Juilliard on a scholarship. Unfortunately, her dreams were not my dreams and I spent the next 30 years in a singing ministry that involved everything I dreamed of doing - radio, tv and even an album! But then everything went wrong and my vocal chords were damaged during an emergency surgery. Suddenly, I had no purpose (or so it seemed).
But God is good, and that creative part of me came out in other ways - through writing. But then my health started failing and with it I found myself struggling once again to find my purpose in life. It took every ounce of strength I had just to stay awake, let alone write something (and that was before I went into the hospital). During my lowest points I actually convinced myself that God had taken my gifts away because I had failed Him somehow. Oh, the things we will believe when we are depressed (even when we know better)!
As I've shared here, here and here, I began to see why I landed in the hospital. But I also started to see things about myself, those personality quirks and characteristics, even the incurable disease I have, were put there by God for a reason.
I had more than one doctor or nurse mention something about my sense of humour, or my positive attitude. I have to admit, when they said something about my "positive attitude" I thought they were talking about someone else. I remember crying more than once while I was laid up. But, as time wore on my attitude changed. I began to pray, "Lord, may your will be done. Whatever it takes." And I would experience an overwhelming peace even as the ambulance was driving away from my home. And as the nurses realized I was back once again, they started to ask the same questions. "How are you doing it? You've been here for so long. How are you keeping your spirits up and staying so positive?" That was when I would share about Jesus.
Having lymphedema (and it's complications of cellulitis) was a blessing (in a way) because I was also able to witness to my roommates, and in the end I was able to witness to a roommate dealing with the exact same disease I had! Only God could arrange to have us both fall sick at the same time, in the same hospital and end up in the same room together.
So, what personality traits or characteristics did God instill in me that have served me well this year? Empathy, compassion, discernment, and most of all, my sense of humour. Where I found things hilarious, others would stand back and say, "Oh, you poor thing." But when your leg is literally squirting water across the room like a water balloon, how can you not laugh? Or is it just me? I think it's me...and the humour God gave me to endure it all.
And that's where I found my purpose, my God-given gift. It had nothing to do with my talents, or doing what I enjoy most in life. But it had everything to do with how God created me. Those unique traits that make me...me. But, more importantly, those traits that would carry me through life (in particular, the last seven months). For example, why did God give me a weird sense of humour, or make me an extrovert? Why is it easy for me to joke about my pain? Because God created me in His image. Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
And there it is right there...we are created in God's image. That sense of humour God gave me? He put it there because He loves to laugh too. Compassion, empathy and a joyful spirit? God put those things in me to help me serve Him wherever life takes me. And yes, He also blessed me with talents to complement those character traits and He has done the same for you.
You are made in God's image! Think about that for a minute. If you hate your life, your body, your circumstances - stop doing that right now! Before you were born God saw you and the trajectory your life would take. So He put qualities (His qualities) within you that would help you on your journey, while fulfilling His purpose for your life. He made a beautiful you! He then blessed you with certain talents and gifts to complement your character and help you on your journey.
Not everyone can sing, paint, play an instrument or write. Gifts and talents come in many forms. So don't worry if you think you can't do anything "big" for God. That's not the point. You were created to bring glory to God and to carry out good works for Him (Ephesians 2:10). And He has provided you with everything you need to do so. So, when you wonder what your purpose is here, if you are a Christian, it is to glorify God by sharing the love of Jesus and his message of salvation.
But how do I do that when I don't know what to do with my life? Or what my career should be?
Did Jesus ever tell us to go out and get a career first? Paul made tents for a living (Acts 18:1-3), but his purpose was to spread the good news of Jesus. God gave him a bright, astute mind and made him ambitious enough to study the Torah and memorize it as a child. This lead him to confess he was the best Jew and Pharisee of his generation (Philippians 3:5). He was also dedicated, compassionate, emotional, clever and above all committed to serving the Lord. These characteristics helped Paul in his ministry to the Gentiles. His tentmaking helped support his ministry, but it was not his purpose.
Today, you have everything within you necessary to fulfill your purpose in life. Your God-given gifts are the strengths God created within you before you were born. In addition, if you have confessed Christ as Lord, you have also been given spiritual gifts to help you fulfill your purpose.
So, take some time today and think about what makes you...you. Then combine what you discover with the talents or interests God gave you. Make a list. You'll soon discover that your God-given gift has been there all along!