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Being a jackass is my spiritual gift

October 13, 2010

In typical Becky fashion, I signed up this fall for a Beth Moore Bible study.  And not just any Beth Moore Bible study, the FIRST Beth Moore study, ever: A Womans Heart: God’s Dwelling Place, a study of the Old Testament tabernacle.  This is the second time around the block with this material for Ms. Moore as she has revised the study for more modern audiences: which includes tossing out the old, but “womanly” lavender flower book cover for a more sleek black and bronze seraphim design and joking about how radically different her hairdo is from the first study (think early Suzanne Sugarbaker).


The higher the hair, the closer to Heaven


If you don’t know Beth, you should.  Because apart from being a great Bible teacher (mostly self- and Holy Spirit taught), she’s kind of a hoot.  She’s a big-haired Texan with a big ol’ accent and I can say that because I’m from the South.  (The real South, not the West, which is what Texas really is, thankssomuch Southern Living magazine.  Like Georgia ITSELF doesn’t give you enough material?!?).  And as a boon, she’s lays more terms of endearment  on you than a Waffle House waitress.

But Beth is good.  I’ve been to a couple of her conferences and have completed several of her Bible studies, as have many women in Beckydom.  You’re not a good Becky if you don’t have a few Beth Moore studies on your resume.  I mean, there are journals and calendars and tote bags related to her work, for Pete’s sake.  She’s kind of our Oprah.

Last week, as I was struggling through 5 days of study work in one evening (between Glee at 8pm and The Good Wife at 10pm, if we’re all-the-way sharing), I got stuck on one particular section of personal application questions.  Beth was challenging her readers to examine what particular offerings we have to bring to the Lord.  What unique talents, gifts, time, resources do we have to return to Him for the work of His glory on earth?

Seems like this is one of THE questions, no?  What am I here for?  What would God have me do with my life? Many people turn to their CVs or resumes looking for a divine pattern or some sense of purpose.  Mine is a ton of liberal arts mess.  No help there.  Some turn to aptitude or personality tests and spiritual inventories.  ENTJ here. Take me to your leader so I can dethrone him and rule.  EOM.

My strategy usually involves some kind of online quiz like the ones we used to take in Seventeen.  Which Heather are you?


I'm the Christian Slater? What?!? I'm retaking this stupid quiz.


But this time, I chose my backup option: phone a Catholic friend.  As we talked, it became clear that I have no marketable skills.  What I do have is that talent for driving my mother nuts which she herself has referred to on many occasions as “being a smartass.”

So I asked my friend, is that really a thing you can do for God?  Can you be a smart ass for the Lord? (as a human, I mean.  Not in a literal, Balaam’s donkey kind of way.) My friend seems to think so.  She cited Old Testament prophets like Elijah whose famous duel with the Baal-worshippers led him to smack-talking so classic I’m tempted to pull it out the next time I start losing to my dad in Scrabble.  The lame god of your tiles must be busy taking a crap because my letters are on fire, baby!  Triple word score!

She’s right about my talents and usefulness, of course, but I remained unconvinced for a week or so.  Until last night when we revisited the subject again.  I lamented that I have no place to be a smart ass for God, except among friends and family who are often in equal measures entertained and annoyed by it.  She said maybe I was the smart ass she needed and that was my ministry.  But, I protested, there’s no place for me to take my smartassiness to the streets.  I mean, no one’s asking me to speak or making a movie about my life like they do Donald Miller (which is a shame because my first kiss with my husband is fabulous romcom fodder).  I gotta be a little funnier than Donald Miller, right? My friend responded that I have this blog.  Which she and three other people read, I rebuffed.

She said everyone has talents.  Everyone has a vocation.  To which I responded, yes, but some people are just average people and they need to accept it and embrace it.  Maybe I’m one of those.  I’m just an average smart ass.  She said, “I said you were a smart ass.  I didn’t say you were a great one.  God gave it.  It’s your job to hone it.”

See? I’m not the only smart ass in the game, apparently.  That’s what I get for talking to these people on the phone and letting them crash my pity party.  So I sat down for my harmless Prime Time Bible study cram session.  And, not an hour after hearing that load of, er, pep talk from my friend, I get Beth on my case with this:

God christened the altar with fire from Heaven…Wood had to be added continually so that the original, divine flame would never be exhausted.  God lit the fire, but humans had to fuel it.  Second Timothy 1:6 says, ‘for this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you.’

How’s that for gettin’ in my business?  The rest of that day’s study went like that.  All, “you know what you’re working with, girl.  Make it work.” (Because God often speaks to me in Tim Gunn catchphrases.)

As if that truth weren’t enough of an intrusion, I get hit a few “days” later into the study with a reminder of the story of the Korahites who complained against Moses and Aaron that their jobs weren’t glam enough.  They had the piddly job of packing up the wares in the tabernacle and carrying the thing and they wanted bigger, high profile stuff to do.  (Indiana Jones could have told them that was a bad idea)

If you don’t know what happened to them for their grumbling, let me just put it this way: they certainly didn’t get off with a few over-the-phone jabs from a sympathetic friend.  Nope, swallowed up in a hole and burnt to a crisp:

As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!” And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense. –Numbers 16:31-35

Wow.  No thanks.  Stop fussing about the smallness of whatever I’m doing and just be a small-time smartass for the Lord.  Got it.

And all this is how I know my smartassity is “of God.”  Obviously, He has mad skills in that department Himself and he freely exercises them on me quite often.  PTL.

I think Numbers 16:31-35 just became my life verse.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate permalink
    October 16, 2010 3:52 am

    I am mad in love with this post. It’s the combination of Suzanne Sugarbaker and the Heathers.


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