By Emily Sutherland
Ever felt like a fish out of water? Maybe you are an artist on the inside, but you’re selling insurance, teaching, or driving a truck for a living. Or maybe you are a writer on the inside, but you are punching a time clock or writing everyone’s stories but your own.
No one in history has sung to more live audience members during the course of his life than George Beverly Shea. He spent 60 years with the Billy Graham organization singing to people on every continent in the world. But did you know he spent nine years working behind a desk at an insurance agency before he started traveling and singing for Billy Graham Crusades?!
Bill Gaither taught high school English for seven years while he and Gloria were moonlighting as songwriters, and Gloria was a substitute teacher for part of that time. A few years before that, Gloria worked at Kellogg’s cereal factory. Can you imagine that brilliant mind who has penned lyrics to 700 of the greatest songs ever written once applied itself to sorting out burnt corn flakes? Me neither. But it happened.
The newest member of the Gaither Vocal Band, Todd Suttles, has been teaching physical fitness at Vanderbilt University for 20 years. TWENTY YEARS, as in two entire decades! Now, without any self-promotion whatsoever, he has become a part of a 32-year legacy of the Gaither Vocal Band.
We could tell stories like this all day long. And for every single one of those stories, there are many other stories of people just as talented, smart, or creative whose dreams never really took shape in the way they hoped. In those cases, we may be tempted to wonder why God would be so cruel as to place inside someone a song, a story or other gift that He never intended to aviate. Eventually, we learn how very kind He is not to launch us into a future for which we are not prepared, based on His vantage point.
The Gaither office where I sit is flooded with letters and emails from all over the world written by people who are desperate to make their artistic dreams come true. I read the anguish between the lines as unfulfilled hopes sit heavy on the paper in my hands. And it makes my heart hurt.
I want to tell each of those dreamers this… Wherever you are and whatever your dreams look like, every moment of your life matters. Not just the moments you always dreamed of.
Every moment of your life can teach you, or build your story… or build your faith. Perhaps you are so busy spilling out your life onto the people around you, you haven’t stopped to realize how influential you are in the lives of others.
You are so much more than your gift… your dream… or your job.
Some of you spend your days caring for aging parents, or wiping noses (and other unpleasant tasks I will not mention here), or crunching numbers, or any number of other things that seem unrelated to your higher hopes. What a holy calling! Those unexciting “daily things” are not robbing you of your dream. They are enriching it.
So often the big dreams inside us are not hatched without thousands of small acts of submission to the One Whose ways are not our ways…and Whose thoughts not our thoughts. Ask any of the artists mentioned earlier and they will tell you that they would have kept breathing, and living, and making a difference whether or not they ever made their living as an artist.
Believe me when I say… your life matters far more than your talent.
Our Creator sees all of us, inside and out. He created us from dust and breath, mapped out the whole intricate mural of our lives. He created our gifts for a reason. His reasons.
And here is another truth… your talent matters, regardless of the size of your audience. And it matters, whether or not someone you admire validates it.
Sing, paint, write, express your gifts…for Him. He is all the reason you need. The idea of getting some “big break” tends to really cheapen the pure, selfless expression of a gift being laid on the altar for an audience of One.
Success has never made someone happy who wasn’t happy already. Trusting how and why God leads us the way He does might not be clear while we live on this broken planet. What matters now is that we are letting Him into all the empty, unfulfilled places inside us and that we fully accept the life with which He has blessed us. Who knows… maybe that very act of submission is what He has been waiting for all along.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:16