I was eating lunch with a friend last week and explaining this weird phenomenon that has occurred here in Nashville.  Prepare yourself for this shocker: People aren’t dying to be friends with me.

I know that sounds weird, but stick with me.  I guess what I mean is that on the short list of skills that I’ve had my whole life, making friends is towards the top.  I can’t sing opera or build a car or run at high rates of speed, but by gosh I can make you like me.  And I can genuinely like you.  I LOVE having friends, being around people, and making people feel important.

That is a gift from God.  And there is nothing wrong with it.  UNTIL it becomes a place of pride.  [Not that I know anything about that….]

Ok.  Confession time. The truth is that I’ve always been a bit proud about that.  You may not want to date me, dude in coffee shop with the rad hat and super cute haircut, but I bet I can make you laugh and make you want to be my friend.

Cause I gotz the skillz.

But my own skills are letting me down here in Nashville.  I have some great friends, and things are going fine.  I seriously love the people I’m becoming friends with. But making new friends just hasn’t come as easy as it has in the past.  I stick my foot in my mouth more in one day now than I did in all of 2007.  My jokes are like lead balloons, they drop to the ground so fast it would give you whiplash.  My social skills were the ship I sailed on before now and apparently that ship sank.  I’m discovering something you may have already known.  I’m kind of a dork.

And I was telling my lunch friend that I think the Lord has allowed this on purpose.  I think I have, for quite a long time now, mistaken His gifts for my skills.  What He wanted to give me as a free gift, I wanted to claim as my hard earned reward.

Out of His loving kindness, He has brought me to this city, and stripped me of my skillz, to show me that I can’t earn anything.  Love.  Friendship.  Salvation.  I’m just not good enough to earn the gifts He wants to give.  That everything, EVERYONE, is a gift.

Our pastor this morning at Midtown talked about the turtle on the fencepost.  No one looks at the turtle and thinks the turtle put himself there.  Quite the contrary.  The turtle was placed there.  And it is WAY obvious.

What pride is there in that?

If you have friends- they are a gift.  If you have a spouse- they are a gift.  Kids?  Gift.  Job?  Gift.  Moola?  Gift.  Church family?  Gift.  Food on the table?  Gift.

I am a turtle.  Quickly frightened.  Tough on the outside- total wimp without the shell.  Easily intimidated.  Slow as Christmas.

And I think the Lord took time this morning to remind me that any post I’m on is because He sat me there.  [You’ve probably known this for a while.  But remember- I’m the turtle.  The slow factor can never be underestimated.]

I don’t know what God’s plans are for my future.  I have some ideas, but nothing for certain.  But I’ll tell you this right now.  No matter what I become in this world, you can know for sure that this image is burned on my mind.

I am a turtle on a post.  I am a receiver.  I am blessed.

You are a gift.