Greg got comfortable in his ragged armchair and looked at the two teenage girls in the middle of his office.
“So, what’s up?” he asked, curious. Angie and Donna had approached him earlier. His pastor antennae immediately went up but they didn’t seem distraught or anything emotionally charged, just compelled.
The two girls exchanged a significant glance of confirmation. Angie began.
“Well, it kinda has to do with the sermon last week. We, uh, we are interested in this spiritual gift thing. How do you know if you get one? What does it feel like? Do you feel different or anything?”
Greg stared at his slowly increasing gut and pondered the question and it’s askers for a moment. He wanted to make sure these teenagers walked away with an answer and a purpose. The girls shifted a little in their brown swivel chairs as they waited. Donna spoke up. “Do you have spiritual gifts?” she asked in cautious voice.
Greg figured a story was better than a sermon.
“I first began figuring out this spiritual gift thing at your age. I had gone to a retreat that the pastor had hosted. It was really great, lots of running around in the woods, hitting trees. The pastor really hammered home how important it was to ask God to use you, not just randomly find yourself into situations. So one night we prayed to be filled with Holy Spirit and his gifts. After about an hour I felt exactly the same.” Greg paused to look each girl in the eye.
“Actually, I felt gypped.” He continued, “It was the first time in my faith life where I doubted that God even existed. If he did, he wasn’t listening to me. Well, later on that night we were in our cabin, up late, of course; joking and stuff. One guy, Ray, he had a pretty tough life at home, he was being really crude and obnoxious. I knew I should cut him some slack but I was getting tired of it. I was staring at him, trying to figure out why he was such a jerk and a weird thing happened.”
The girls sat up a little straighter at this point, their purses clutched tightly in their laps; they could tell he was getting to the good part.
“It was like I was seeing double, I could see Ray and all his profanity but I could also see through him or underneath him, sort of. And what I saw was a scared little boy, crying. It felt like time had stopped and I had this glance into another reality. I could feel Ray’s pain and loneliness just for a flash and then poof, old obnoxious Ray was in front of me again, spouting off.”
“Wow,” said Donna falling back into her chair. “That’s sounds intense.”
Angie cocked her head sideways in consideration. “What did you do?”
Greg smiled sheepishly. “Oh, nothing of course. I was only fifteen and had no idea what had just happened except that it had never happened before.” The girls stared at him in open mouthed shock.
“You didn’t, like, try to tell this Ray guy about it?”
“Why didn’t you tell to your pastor?”
“To be honest, it was a pretty strange experience. I forgot about it by a week later. Until it happened again. And again. And again. I realized that something was going on, beyond the realm of the normal. So about a year later I was in the youth pastor’s office, just like you girls, and he answered my riddle.”
“He crossed his hands over his belly (Greg demonstrated) and then intoned, “You have been given a gift.”
“It didn’t feel like a gift to me.” Greg said to the girls and then continued in character.
“Yep, a bona fide spiritual gift by the name of discernment. That means God has given you the ability to see the truth of things and people.”
“I was shocked. What could God possibly want me to do with such knowledge? I was only a kid. But over the years it has allowed me to understand people and see the truth in situations where others get confused by gossip and lies.”
The girls were quiet for a moment, their heads lowered, pondering the array of paper clips on the round table. They glanced at each other from the corners of their mascara.
Donna spoke, “It’s just, you see, Pastor Greg, I get these nudges sometimes. . .”
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