Have you ever been promised a gift, and when it came, you were disappointed?

I have.

When I was in first grade, my dad went back to Texas (where we had lived the year before) to take a job for several months. My mom stayed back in Memphis with the four (FOUR!) of us, ranging in age from year-old twins to my six-year-old self.

When it was time for my dad to come back home, he told me he had a gift. A gift! We didn’t get those very often at my house, usually just special occasions. I was WAY excited.

I was certain it was a Barbie. Of course it was a Barbie. I just couldn’t make up my mind which one he was bringing – but it didn’t matter, because it was (most assuredly) a BARBIE!

Except, it wasn’t. It was a ceiling fan.

Yes, I’m still scarred by the whole experience.

Truth be told though, I probably needed a ceiling fan more than I needed another Barbie. We lived in the Sunday School rooms of a church my grandfather had built, trying to keep the church open while they looked for a pastor. Being located in Memphis, that fan probably kept me from succumbing to the outrageous humidity and kept me comfortable during the scorching summers.

God gives gifts too, even though we might not be appreciative of them at the time. Ephesians 4 says:

He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

Now, He’s God. He could just as easily have handed out new cars like Oprah did a few years ago. But, He gave us something much more precious and useful: His servants to help us grow in grace and maturity, to help us be more efficient in our sharing of the gospel.

We need maturity much, much more than a new car or (perish the thought) a Barbie. I pray that we all take advantage of those gifts – that we be humble, teachable, and willing to put their lessons into practice. After all, an unused gift doesn’t fulfill the purpose of the giver, or the receiver.