Ella’s sober face reflected her concentration as she sat on the edge of her bed and gazed unseeingly across the room. Really, the decision had already been made. But now she had to figure out how to explain it to Harmony and Mr. Quan.
Suddenly her thoughts were jarred by the ringing phone. A bubbling voice greeted her. “Hi, Ella, it’s me, Harmony. What have you decided about Mr. Quan’s Illustrative Art class? Are you going to join me in the chase for the elusive butterfly of fame and fortune?”
Ella took a deep breath. “Harmony, I’ve been praying about this whole thing, and I’ve decided not to get involved. It conflicts with too many other more important things.”
“What do you mean? Mr. Quan said we’d be meeting only on Tuesday evenings plus after school a couple of times a week. I know we have church on Tuesday nights but this would only be for a couple of months.”
“Well, I don’t want to miss church. But even the time after school . . . I feel this is time I should be giving to God in service. I made some consecrations to God after He saved me. One of those consecrations was that I would always put Him first. I’ve started taking voice lessons, and I really need to practice every day. Also, I have been doing some art work for the junior Sunday school lessons. If I’m going to keep up with those things, as well as my homework, I just don’t have time to take on anything else right now.”
Harmony was silent for a minute. Then she responded softly, “Okay, Ella, I see what you mean. And I really respect you for making that decision, but as for me . . . well, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I don’t have any great talents to use in the Lord’s work. Nobody would miss me if I weren’t there on Tuesday nights.”
“Harmony, I can’t agree with you. You’ve got some great talents you could use for the Lord! Your way with words is fantastic.”
“Words?” questioned Harmony, somewhat taken aback. “Anyone can talk. How can that be a talent to use for God? I’m not going to be a preacher!”
“Harmony, you’ve been captain of the debating team for two years now, and you get straight A’s in English Comp. What about writing for the church newsletter, or joining the group that makes visitations on Sunday afternoons? The Sunday school teachers are always looking for help with clever sayings for bulletin boards, ideas for programs, and things like that. Just being in church and doing your best to encourage and pray for others is a talent, isn’t it?” Ella paused for breath.
“I guess so,” Harmony responded after a moment. “But, Ella, I’ve always felt that if you couldn’t sing or play an instrument you just didn’t have any talent the Lord could use.”
“No, that isn’t so, Harmony.” Ella thought for a moment, then chuckled as she continued. “This is kind of a weird illustration, but I think it’s sort of like a carpenter’s tool box. The hammer doesn’t say, ‘Just because I don’t slide out of a case and measure things, I can’t be used.’ The pliers don’t say, ‘I can’t pound a nail or tighten a screw, so I can’t do anything.’ All the tools are different, but they all have a job to do. They all are needed.”
Harmony laughed. “Well, I see your point there, Ella. But I’m still not sure how the Lord can use any skills or talents I may have.”
“Look, Harmony. The Lord is going to give you a job that matches up with the talents He has already given you. He’s not going to call you to be a vocal soloist if He didn’t give you any singing ability. He’ll never ask you to be a cello player if your fingers are too short. But He does have something you can do with the talents He has given you—I’m sure of that!”
“How can I find out what that job is, though, Ella? I’d be willing if I knew.”
“First, Harmony, you’ve got to start by talking to the Lord and letting Him know you are serious about wanting to do something in His service. He’ll see and know when you really make that consecration with your whole heart. Then, be sure you are always in your place in church. If an occasion comes up when volunteers are asked to do something you could help with, be there and do your best. Let it be known that you are willing and available. Don’t worry, God will open the doors for you if your whole purpose is to do your part in His work!”
Ella could hear the joy in Harmony’s voice as she answered. “You’ve really given me something to think about. Thanks a lot for your advice, Ella!”