This was from a long-ago time, when I was a new Christian:
This was my first retreat. At 33, I feel I am yet a babe in Christ, having been saved by His grace three years previously. I have learned of the love of God through the members of my church. Never before have I felt such acceptance. I think they really care for me, and, as it’s not something I have experienced within the world of non-Christians, it has taken me some time to build trust.
I was a little hesitant to attend the weekend retreat, not knowing what to expect, but it took only a small amount of encouragement from my new friends to get me there. I scribbled copious notes as I sat under the teachings of a Godly sister in the Lord, Arlene Hill. During a break, some of the ladies chose to go canoeing. Carolyn Fromer and I went together. Carolyn was a comfortable Christian lady, some twenty years older than myself.
We paddled quietly through the calm waters of the river. It was a beautiful fall day in Michigan, sunny, crisp and clear.
As we paddled, we sang: “Peace Like a River,” “It is Well With my Soul,” “Open My Eyes, Lord,” and others. What a feeling of peace. And it was all from the Lord. We were surrounded by trees; I looked through the autumn-printed leaves at the deep blue sky, and offered my thanks to Him as we rocked gently in the sun-dappled waves.
We came upon a tree that hung out over the water. We steered over to it, and Carolyn saw that there were vines hanging from it. She makes wreathes, she said, and here, I’ll make one for you. She pulled a vine from the tree (no easy feat I soon discovered, as I tried to do the same myself), and busied herself in the front of the canoe while I let my paddle dangle lazily from my position in the rear. Her back was to me, so I couldn’t see what she was doing, but she soon turned around to hand me a beautifully-crafted, miniature wreath. It was only about four inches in diameter, but was perfectly woven, with delicate tendrils hanging from it.
I took it and said, “Thank you so much, it’s beautiful.” (How often words are not enough to express one’s feelings.)
As I held it, and examined it, I was reminded of Christ’s crown of thorns, for that’s what my beautiful wreath looked like.
The man who fashioned Christ’s thorny crown had a gift much like Carolyn’s. He, too, took a vine and quickly made a wreath. But his creation was not meant to glorify God. It was used to satisfy his own desires, to justify himself.
Carolyn glorified God with that little wreath she gave me. She used God’s creation, a vine, and formed it into a gift for another, me. And it taught me a lesson.
God blesses each of us with certain gifts or talents. He gives us these gifts for the purpose of glorifying Him. How often we, in our iniquity, use His gifts for our own desires.
Lord, I thank you for bestowing upon me the gifts you created in me, personally. Cause me to remember to use them always to your glory. Give me wisdom, Lord, that I may find your opportunities to use your gifts, to share with others your infinite love and mercy.
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
Present-Day Update: That brown vine still hangs in my home as a reminder to use my gifts for Him.