Welcome back to my friend and fellow KY author, Ann Gabhart. And all who leave a comment on this post by next Friday, with contact info, will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of The Gifted, her latest book based in Shakertown, KY. A delightful read by a very gifted and generous writer!
What is Your Gift? by Ann H. Gabhart
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Romans 12:6 (NIV)
The Shakers were very receptive to gifts of the spirit in their societies. One of their best known songs was “Tis a Gift to Be Simple.” That was the gift all Shaker believers were expected to seek to possess. Being simple meant they wouldn’t be distracted from the Shaker way of “hands to work and hearts to God.”
Of course, their idea of the distractions to avoid are what made them so different from the “world” they tried to block from the borders of their villages. They believed the family unit of mother, father, and children caused too much stress and conflict and thus, hindered proper worshipful living. That’s why they chose celibacy and kept the sexes strictly divided with all members living as brother and sister. Many other rules were handed down as well to keep their members in union one with another such as stepping with the right foot first each time they climbed a stairway or praying silently at specified times or pulling out their chair for sitting at the table with the same hand at the same time. They practiced orderly marching dances, but they also embraced gifts of whirling and gifts of song. The gift of sweeping where they swept away sin with imaginary brooms was so common that they wrote sweeping songs for worship.
But what happened when a Shaker sister or brother had a gift that was not embraced by the Ministry as a good and proper gift? That’s the dilemma of Jessamine Brady in The Gifted. Her “gifts” of imagination and curiosity continually land her in trouble in the Shaker village. She loves her sisters at Harmony Hill, but she’s always peering past the village borders wanting to know more. Her fingers itch to write down fanciful stories that have no place in a Shaker sister’s life. One of the things Jessamine must discover in the story is whether her gifts are a blessing from God or if they arise out of sinful worldly desires.
What is your gift? Or gifts? You certainly aren’t limited to one talent or gift by the Giver of all good gifts. But I’ve met people who didn’t believe they possessed any gifts that could be used for the Lord. That’s human thinking. The Lord hasn’t limited us that way. Paul in Romans 12 lists many gifts: prophesy, teaching, serving, encouraging, contributing, leading, showing mercy. Think of all the ways those gifts can be broken down and expanded. We may not all be preachers or we may not be able to teach, but who among us can’t encourage with a smile or kind word? Perhaps we can’t be the one who leads the church, but surely we can all show mercy even as we embrace God’s mercy to us.
Like Jessamine in my story, I do think I have been blessed with a gift for words. For that, I’m thankful because I love writing down stories. But not everybody has a gift of words. It would be a strange world if we all shared the same gift. Many have gifts of music or of art. No less important are those who have a gift for kindness. Some may have the gift of loving the unlovely. Others the less celebrated gifts of serving their churches and families by cooking nourishing meals or cleaning or praying for others. Spiritual gifts can be for teaching and spreading the Good News, but the gifts of seeing and meeting people’s needs are every bit as valuable. So celebrate your gifts and offer them up to the Lord with joy.
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” ~Anthony Robbins
Ann H. Gabhart bio
Living just thirty miles from a restored Shaker village in Kentucky, Ann H. Gabhart has walked the same paths her character might have walked in generations past. Her thorough research provides a colorful backdrop for her Shaker novels. Ann is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and Angel Sister. The Gifted is the fifth book set in her Shaker village of Harmony Hill.
Ann lives on a farm with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart , Twitter (user name annhgabhart) or Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.