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A Big Thank You to

for the use of the "crackle effect" divider
Copyright - Debbie Porter 2001
"All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors."
~ John Calvin ~
"Do you mind if we go to the Shopping Center before we go home?  I really need to get that photo done."

Steve's suggestion didn't really thrill me.  There's usually only one thought on my mind after church each week, and that's the pleasure of going home.  As far as I'm concerned, Sunday afternoons are at their best when used as a beautiful oasis of peace and relaxation.  A reward for making it through the week that was, and preparation for the week that's yet to come.

Traipsing around the Mall didn't quite fit into my picture of the ideal lazy afternoon.

Unfortunately, there wasn't an option.  Steve's Jet Ski licence was due for renewal, and to do that he had to have a passport size photo.  It was a nuisance, but it was also unavoidable.

Arriving at the busy Shopping Center we started our search for an Instant Photo booth.  Finding one wasn't hard at all, but finding $7 in change to use it was.

"Oh dear," I sighed as I looked in my purse's almost empty coin compartment.  "I guess we'll have to buy some icecreams so we can get change."

Everyone was most "upset" at having to force themselves to do this, but they all bravely rose to the challenge.  After all, it was for a good cause.

Finally, with a purse full of coins, we made our way back to the Photo Booth, and waited while Steve slipped inside.  I could only see his legs beneath the black curtain and his hand briefly as he adjusted the stool to the right height.  Then it was time for him to sit down and wait for his image to be recorded.
I wasn't really taking much notice, preferring the greater fascination of my rapidly melting chocolate icecream cone, but it seemed only seconds later that Steve was out of the booth and wandering back over to us.
The burst of light from the little room behind him caught everyone's attention, except Steve's!

"ARGH!  DADDY!  What are you doing?"  Kylie squealed in horror as she realized a precious photo opportunity had just been wasted.

Thinking that there was only one shot taken, Steve had just waited long enough for the first flash.  He hadn't realized that there were actually four different poses, which made the $7 a little better value.

"Oh well," he replied in his totally unperturbed way, "I only needed one picture."

Kylie hadn't waited to discuss the matter.  The second she realized that there were still two shots left she'd bolted to the booth, taken her Father's place and immediately gone into her very best "portrait pose."  The shy little darling just "hates" having her photo taken!
Not to be outdone, Matt quickly poked his head through the curtain, arriving just in time to make a spectacular appearance in the fourth frame.
The look of satisfaction on both of their faces when they finally emerged clearly showed how much they'd enjoyed using up Dad's extra photos.  As far as they were concerned, the thought of letting the camera take three empty shots would have been a waste beyond measure.

At $1.75 per picture, I tended to agree.  It may not be an enormous amount of money, but if you've got something just waiting to be used, you may as well go ahead and make the most of it!

It only makes good sense doesn't it?  Yet how many of us are wasting the gifts and talents that God has made available to us?  How many are not stepping into their full potential in Him?  As Christian men and women, we're accountable for what we do with the investment God has placed in our lives.  It's an investment He's made not for our benefit alone, but for the common good of the Church.  As the Apostle Peter wrote:

"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
~ 1 Peter 4:9 NKJV ~

Why do so many fail to use their God-given gifts?  For some it could just be that there's an uncertainty about what their gifts are.  If that's the case, then they need to find a way to uncover them.  There's not one Christian who hasn't been given gifts for the glory of God and the building of His church.  The fun part is discovering what they are.

For some it may be that they're waiting for someone in leadership to recognize the gifts in their life and give them something to do.  This definitely does happen at times, but not always.  We need to make ourselves available, but also be open to God's leading.  One of the greatest breakthroughs in my understanding of this came when I realized that I'd been looking to man for promotion, when in fact it's God who promotes and directs (Psalm 75:6-7).  We just have to be paying attention.

Then there are those who feel that they are either just too young or too old to be of any use.  This is perhaps the biggest mistake of all.  God will use His children no matter what their age.  He called Samuel when he was just a boy, and used an aged Abraham to build a nation.  In God's eyes, age is never a determining factor  Obedience, willingness and availability are!

The list of reasons could probably go on and on.  Insecurity, hurt feelings, lack of training, lack of encouragement, lack of motivation - perhaps you can think of others.  But whatever the reason, if we aren't using our God-given gifts and talents, then we're wasting the precious and valuable resources that He's entrusted into our care.

Makes $1.75 for photos seem pretty cheap by comparison.  Yet how eagerly the children ran to make sure we got as much value for our $7 investment as possible.  Our eagerness to give God the full value for His investment should be immeasurably greater!

If you're a child of God, then there's one thing I can say with full confidence.  You've most definitely "got it".  You've been given everything you need to become everything God created you to be. So if you've got it, there's just one thing needed, and that's for you to use it!

After all, to do anything else would really just be a waste.
"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed.  Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light."
~ Luke 8:16 NIV ~
Kylie and Matt
The "Shyest" Members of the Family
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A Big Thank You to

for the use of the "crackle effect" divider