My husband and I decided to reorganize the garage. In so doing, we decided to finally unpack our wedding china. You see, we moved into this house a few years ago and unpacked the essentials. We’ve made do with our everyday dishes because they were convenient and functional. For special dinners, we’ve made do with regular plates because unwrapping the box of pretty plates would take a lot of effort. And wrapping them back up would be even more troublesome, should we ever move. And my mother-in-law is an expert wrapper, so wrapping them back as well as she did would be close to impossible. Excuses, all.
Some people say wedding china is no longer essential, a waste, something we no longer need to celebrate in our fast-paced, comfortable, modern culture. And perhaps that is true. But it is the metaphor of my china that made me take pause. I’ve walked through department stores in recent years oohing and aahing over the pretty patterned plates and cups; I’ve admired a lot of china that isn’t my own. And then I took out the first bowl from the layers of paper and padding. I took a deep breath. It’s so beautiful. I loved it so much when I picked it out. And upon seeing it again, it made me smile. What a treasure! I scolded myself, “How have I not been using these all these years?”
My china, you see, was a treasure hidden away in the depths of the garage. Each piece was a gift—items people gave me and my husband to celebrate our new life together. I had nothing to do with manufacturing the china. I spent no money of my own to get it. And yet, there it was spread out so beautifully all over my kitchen counters. White lace china with gold trim. Special china just for me and my family from people who love us. When I use it to serve its purpose, it will help me host other people in my home. It will show people that they are important and that they matter and that they are deserving of something special and precious. All I have to do is take what I’ve been given and share it, and I can be a blessing to those around me.
God’s made each of us unique. He’s gifted us with treasures—talents—we can share to make the world a better place, to dignify and love people, to care for people, to help people, to encourage people. When we leave God’s gift locked away, it’s of no use to us or anyone else. It’s easy to envy the treasure everyone else has and diminish the value of our own precious uniqueness. This is not God’s way.
When I think about why I sometimes leave my treasure in a box, it’s often because I feel like there are other similar treasures out in the world and wonder if it’s necessary to throw mine into the mix. But once I’ve made the bold decision to unwrap the china, to develop and expose that gift or talent, I get to put it on display for God’s glory. I’ve got to be courageous to share the gifts God has given me with others. It might require vulnerability, unknown outcomes, or blind leaps of faith. But the love of Christ compels me. Our God-given gifts are meant to reveal the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the greatest gift. Our talents and treasures are unique and precious and valuable, to be shared in humility, not to be squandered.
China isn’t meant to be used alone. It’s not meant to be holed up in boxes in the garage. It’s meant to be set on a table and used by a group of people. It’s meant to bring people to a table to break bread together. So let’s look inside and ask God to show us what treasure is wrapped up in us, waiting to be unearthed, waiting to see the light of day so people can glorify the beauty of God, witness His love, and bow in awe of His grace.
What has God deposited within you by His grace and love? What has God called you to share? How has He called you to love?
II Corinthians 4:6-7
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
II Timothy 1:5-14
from Paul to Timothy
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.