Background on the passage: at the beginning of the chapter Jesus Christ sends out seventy-two ahead of himself to every town and place of his future ministry. They were to share the gospel in preparation for Christ's ministry.
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Luke 10: 17-20
This reminded me of something I had recently read in one of my favorite book series, Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card. Background: Ender is a child warrior (futuristic) who annihilated an alien species that had previously attacked earth. He has journeyed to one of the alien world planets to govern a colony of human settlers. On that planet, "bugs" were found that seemed to be hybrids of the original aliens and a local species from the planet. Ender finds he is able to communicate with these bugs by forming images in his head and reading the images in the bugs' head. Like telepathy. (Confusing, I know. It sounds silly... but the entire Ender and Bean series are incredible. Matthew and I both love them) In this passage one of the other child geniuses in the colony traveled with Ender and was speaking of Ender's ability to speak with the bugs.
"Po says nobody's better at it than you."
"He says everybody else has to work and work to get a glimmer of an image into or out of the gold bugs' heads, but you could do it the very first time."
"I didn't realize I was all that unusual," said Ender.
"They talk about it when you're not there. Po talks about it with Papa."
"Interesting," said Ender. He didn't sound like he felt flattered, or like he was acting modest- Ender truly sounded like he thought of his unusual talent for talking with the gold bugs as a simple fact.
When he thought about it, this made sense to Abra. You shouldn't be proud of being good at something, if you were born with it. That would be as dumb as being proud of having two legs, or speaking a language, or pooping.
Because he was with Ender, Abra felt free to say what he had just thought of, and Ender laughed. "That's right, Abra. Something you work to achieve, that's one thing. Why not be proud of it? Why not feel good about it? But something you were born with, that's just the way you are. Do you mind if I quote you?"
Kind of a long passage, but I love the essence of it. So often I find myself proud of certain things I am competent in. These areas are gifts from God that he ingrained in my personhood. These areas are not something I have worked hard at maintaining or developing. Yet I feel proud of these "accomplishments" and honestly, look down on others who are not blessed in the same areas as I. I'm not mentioning the areas because I often elaborate on the specifics in a boastful way.
Yet, as Ender, Abra, and Jesus Christ have stated, we are not to rejoice in talents or skills. God has granted us the use of our abilities to serve Him, to bring praise and glory to His name. We are to rejoice in the fact that our names are written in His Book of Life. This is something else we can never accomplish on our own, so we are not to be proud. We are to be eternally thankful.
Sometimes it's hard to verbalize my thoughts. I hope that all made sense. It was like a serious lightbulb in the middle of a church service. I love it when that happens. We have a great church with a wonderful pastoral staff. I still often find myself distracted by those around me during the service- yawning loudly, poor singing, obnoxious whispers. I try to stay focused and I am thankful that today I did.
In a complete tangent- I finished our taxes tonight. Getting a refund that's going directly into savings (possibly a savings account for Jackson) and glad to have that behind us. While I have e-filed every year in our marriage, I still get stressed about taxes. Not sure why when our documents are extremely straightforward. But either way, I'm thankful it's finished and I no longer have to worry about it. Matt's W2 was delayed getting to us as the apt. number wasn't on the original document. As I said, we're probably going to open a savings account for Jackson with this money. We'll be getting an insurance check after our hospital stay when he's born that will also go towards his savings account. I wanted to open a $5000 account for each of our kids when they are born... but that isn't going to quite happen for Jackson. We hope that by his first birthday we'll have the $5000 in place for him and can go forward with any future children in the same manner. While we have the funds to set up his account now, we're going to play it safe until we know if I'll be returning to work, if Matt is selected for OCS, and other finance issues for the next year. If I go back to work then Jackson will certainly get his full allotment. Seems kind of like we're taking his money to pay our bills... but hopefully we'll right it soon enough. On the upside... we just got the notice of our lease renewal and we'll be paying $60 less for our rent until we move. What an unexpected blessing! So timely with Jackson coming.