I recently shared some thoughts on biblical hospitality and the opportunity it provides to live the gospel. Gospel-living isn’t always easy. It’s sacrificial, it can be messy and scary, but it can also be life-giving to both the giver and the receiver.
1 Peter 4:9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” The very next verse says, “each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I like to think Peter lined these sentences up this way with some serous intention. I can’t know for sure, but it makes total sense, right? How do we offer hospitality to one another? By using the gifts God has given us. If I’m honest though, I can’t say I always see my gifts as something for other people. Whether it’s because I devalue mine or simply because I take an internal focus and believe the lie that they are just for me. I think it takes a shift in our view to consistently live in a place where our gifts are something we seek to give to others rather than to serve ourselves.
This summer it will have been 13 years since I attempted to summit Mt. Rainier in Washington. I use the word ‘attempted’ because I never made it to the top—perhaps one day I’ll write about that heart-wrenching experience. For today though, I want to talk about the moments after I made the extremely difficult decision to turn back.
If you are anything like I was before I set out to climb Rainier, you might have no idea what it takes to summit a glacier covered mountain nor all the necessary gear items. Besides the training that made my marathon training days look like a cakewalk, I learned pretty quickly what we needed and how utterly important it was to my safety to pay close attention. Our packing list consisted of an alpine harness, trekking poles, glacier glasses, goggles, headlamps, crampons, ice axes, helmets, layers upon layers of clothing, sleeping bag and special lightweight containers for food and water.
In the days leading up to the summit we were immersed in the basics of mountaineering—our guides called it snow school. We got to experience first-hand the importance of an ice axe and crampons. One of my biggest takeaways was how both these items could help me stop myself from sliding down the side of the mountain should I lose my footing or something worse.
On our trek back to Camp Muir, where we had started, we were all roped to each other by our harnesses—rope in one hand and ice axe in the other, evenly spaced apart. Anytime we came to something suspicious in our path our guide would yell to the person behind him, and it would continue down the line to the last. Since Rainier is a glacier covered mountain, it is common to come across crevasses—deep cracks in the glacier—and we did. These deep cracks are fractures in the glacier that can be deceiving at times as the snow on their edges may appear solid but under the weight of a human body, it might just collapse into the cavern. Needless to say, I was grateful for our well-seasoned and expert guides to help lead us over these.
Suddenly I felt a tug on the rope at my waist. I immediately steadied my feet in the snow and turned my head to see what was going on—my headlamp wasn’t quite strong enough, but I could make out the teammate closest to me—he was face down on the snow with his body in the self-arrest position. Just beyond him was another teammate whose head and shoulders were peering out of the crevasse I had just crossed moments earlier. We all stood our ground, anchoring in as best we could to ensure he got out without losing his grip and falling further in, making it harder to get out. Thankfully he was just fine, and in just a few moments he was back in line with us all trekking back to camp.
We Must Change our View
What does this have to do with using out gifts for others? See, while in Snow School I was fixated on how I could save myself with my ice axe and my crampons in the event of a fall. My concern for my own well-being was pretty strong. What didn’t concern me as much was that that ice axe and those crampons were just as much a tool to help save my teammates as they were to save myself.
When one of our fellow climbers slipped into the crevasse, the guy roped in closest to him heard him yell, “Falling!” and immediately dropped to the ground to anchor himself into the snow with his axe and his crampons. This way if our teammate kept falling, he was anchored in and Lord willing, would hold the rope so the teammate that fell could climb out. Our axes and crampons weren’t at all just for us. They are intended to help others too.
Our gifts, like the axe and the crampons, are intended not just to help us as individual followers of Jesus, but also to help others, to serve others, and to bring glory to God.
We Need Each Other
1 Corinthians 12:4 says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.” In verse seven it goes further to say gifts are given for the common good.
Our gifts may be unique to us, but they are for the common good. In her book From Lost to Found, author Nicole Zasowski says, “With Christ in us, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, when we offer our gifts to each other, we display a piece of Christ’s identity. … This is why we gather in community: when every gift shows up, we begin to understand all the ways Christ shows up for us.”
Isn’t that true, friends? We can’t all possess what Christ offers, but when we all come together in community and use our gifts for each other, we gain a greater understanding of our Savior and His love for this world.
I hope you know that your gifts are needed. God is placing people in your path for you to show His love to through exercising those gifts. Don’t hold back, friend. Be encouraged that He made you for a purpose and that includes using the talents He has given you to bring His purposes to life. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll hear someone yell ‘falling!’ and your gift will be just the thing she needs to climb out of the hole and into life.