Let me paint you a picture of a child who has gone to a party and feels left out because he notices that all the other children are playing with gifts from the host. Then, at the end of the day when his mother picks him up for the drive home, he breaks down and cries. “Mom, everyone else got a gift—except for me! Why didn’t they give me a gift?”

Imagine his disappointment when his stunned mother looked in the rearview mirror and asked, “Didn’t you go to the gift table and pick up the gift they had prepared for you?”

Life is too short not to find your gift. Yet that’s how many of us live our entire lives. We never go to God’s gift table to find what he has prepared for us. This is something that I speak about in the ReTooled & ReFueled: The Essential Christian Life-Skills Seminar. So let me share a few thoughts that may help you find and enjoy the gift God has waiting for you.

1. Be available to God’s gentle promptings. Sometimes the key is simply to, “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10a, NIV). I believe that God has given every one of us a natural bent. He has blessed each of us with abilities or inclinations that will lead our life paths to joyful conclusions if we will simply accept what God has waiting for us and accept them on his terms.

2. Understand the nature of God’s gifts. While I’m not convinced that it is an exhaustive list, Paul gives us a glimpse into the heart of God as he names seven different “gifts of the Spirit” in Romans 12:12-21 (you can check them out for yourself, but briefly they include the gifts of prophesy, serving others, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy). God gives gifts so we can “re-gift” them. His idea is for us is to share and bless others with — to pay it forward. Not to strain a metaphor, but I realize that this may seem like telling the same kid in the illustration above that he can go back to the party and retrieve his gift — but then he must share it with the other kids. Although it may sound counterintuitive, God’s plan really does work best. He gives gifts (at least in part) so we can have the joy of blessing others. The happiest people I know are the ones who give the most.

3. Avoid cramming square pegs into round holes. Many of us spend our entire lives trying to be something that God never wired us to be. In my high school and college days I was determined to get into show business. I reasoned (or rationalized) that I could do all kinds of great things for God if he would only allow me to become a famous star. By brute force and dogged determination, I eventually managed to sign a record deal with a major label and did several stage and television shows. But it never really fit me.

Why? Mainly because I had no real talent. I couldn’t sing (my voice has been known to kill small animals!) But for a long time, I resisted God’s nudging. So I wasted valuable time trying to convince God to do it my way. Thankfully, he loved me too much to allow that. I have long suspected that, had I succeeded in show business, I would have long ago left Jesus.

4. Avoid jealousy. Don’t look at another Christian and say, “I wish I could sing or lead or communicate like he does.” God’s gift for you will be as unique as your finger prints — he knows what will fit you the best. He knows exactly how much to give you and when to hold back — to protect you from yourself. This is where trust comes into play.

5. Look for the “sweet spot.” One way of knowing when you are ensconced in God’s perfect plan for your life is that there will be a sense of peace and purpose. Paul called it, “the peace that passes understanding.” It’s like that perfect golf swing (of which I’ve had very few). You know the instant your club makes contact that all is well as the ball flies freely and effortlessly exactly where you intended. When I start to see God’s big picture for my life, things change for the better — forever. There is a blessing when we “wait for the Lord” because we “will gain new strength” and “mount up with wings like eagles . . . run and not get tired . . . walk and not become weary.”