Recently, I watched a clip from America's Got Talent starring a girl whose passion was to make music. You know, write and sing songs. Well, she lost her hearing, and you can't make music if you can't hear, right? At first, this girl gave up, putting aside the idea of being a musician because she thought it was impossible to pursue that passion anymore.
But then she decided she didn't want to give up. She learned to sense the vibrations in the floor through her feet, keeping up with the right tempo. And though she couldn't even hear her own voice, she sang in front of those judges as beautifully as any singer who could hear. It was amazing.
When I see talent like this - when I see "success" like this - I sometimes find myself thinking, Why can't that be me? Why can't I do the impossible like that?
I have no interest in making music, but I know writers like me can tend to hope that we end up as popular as, say, Suzanne Collins with her Hunger Games series. At the same time, however, we know deep down that it's just not very likely. Sometimes this discourages me or even makes me feel like a little bit of a failure.
But it never lasts for long. Consider these two situations.
1. You scoff at the idea of God. The notion of following Him hasn't even crossed your mind. But...
Speaking of followers, thousands of people show up at your concerts!
Everyone knows your pseudonym and has read your series!
People love you and respect you and think you're the best thing since peanut butter!
And yet you aren't doing anything for God. You've never said a prayer in your life or sang a single worship song. In fact, He is the furthest thing from your mind throughout all your life here on earth.
Then you die. People remember you for generations, but what about you? Where have you gone?
2. You love God with all your heart and you follow Him as your passion. What sort of response does a person like this get from the rest of the world?
Not many people have read your Christian book, but most of those who do tell you that it was an enormous blessing to them, that God changed their life through it. Not many unbelievers give a second thought about picking it up.
Not many people know about your Christian music album. Compared to Taylor Swift, you are at the lowest level of popularity.
Furthermore, a lot of the people who do happen to hear about you don't like you. They wrinkle their nose at your work. Some of them even let you know just how they feel about it. And it hurts. It really does.
But believe it or not, that rejection is something to rejoice at. Don't forget Matthew 5:11-12, which is Jesus Himself encouraging us (you and me!) with these beautiful words: "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
I haven't really been subject to any persecution of any kind yet, but the closer I get to Jesus, the bolder I become, and the more people I come into contact with, I hope and pray that I'll speak out about my faith more and more. And Jesus said that because they hate Him, they will hate us.
What's even more mind-blowing is the first part of Luke 6:26 that says, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you." Worldly people love worldliness, and if we're spreading heavenliness, chances are good that the majority isn't going to appreciate it. They'll call us "weird," or something worse. Of course, God will have pockets of ready soil waiting - hearts that are soft - but a lot of our seeds will inevitably hit the hard hearts too. We just have to keep on planting. Or rather, we have to let Him plant through us.
Two of the things that the world defines as success are people-pleasing and doing the impossible. If the girl from America's Got Talent uses her amazing gift for the Lord's glory, then it matter immensely! But if she decides to use it to please the world or to satisfy her own desires, then you know what? It means very little. Sure, it's amazing, but what's really amazing is to use what you have for Jesus, to acknowledge that He is behind every talent. When you think about, success by the world's standards is really the opposite. It's failure. Success is failure.
Wow. I'm pretty sure God took control of my fingers as I wrote this! And now I should be delighted at any thoughts on this topic. Whatever God puts on your heart, I would be so blessed to hear it :D