When the Chair Doesn't Turn
One of my guilty pleasures this last few weeks has been to watch NBC's The Voice. If you aren't familiar with the premise of the show, four musical professionals sit with their backs to the stage as contestants enter the auditorium one by one and give their best vocal performance. The idea is that each competitor would be judged solely on their singing talent, regardless of appearance. If the judge likes what they hear, they hit a button, and their chair swings around to face the stage.
Each contestant it talented, and each has just 90 seconds to pour their hearts out in a song. Many times at least one judge will turn their chair, indicating that the contestant will have the chance to move on to the next round. But, there are those times when the singer stands on that stage, having given everything they have, and not a single chair has turned. It's the end of the line and there will be no advancing toward their dream of musical stardom.
Have you been on that stage? Not literally of course, but have you had that moment, when you've given your best and it simply was't good enough? You passion, energy, practice and perseverance all came down to that one moment when you gave the sales presentation, or you auditioned for that part. Maybe you twist your ankle and fail to cross the finish line or send in your manuscript for the 100th time only to get the rejection letter in the mail. It's over. The dream is not realized.
I have witnessed several remarkably talented people who should have "advanced to the next round." Their voice should have gotten them a record deal. Their writing should have been published. Their creativity should have been acted out on stage. So, what went wrong? My simple but frustrating answer is: nothing.
The desire of many talented people is to have their work recognized and appreciated. Because we live in a world (and especially a country) where fame is considered the "gold standard", it's easy to feel rejected or disillusioned when that talent isn't rewarded with success or popularity.
When you add in the "God factor", the aggravation seems to multiply. "But God, I thought you wanted me to write this song!' "But God, I thought you had me rehearse so that I would get the role." "But God, I thought. . . "
When our efforts aren't met with applause it's easy to feel that it's all been a waste of time. But, I want you to consider something for a moment. If the fame or success wasn't going to be an option, but you could perform for just one person of importance, would that make your effort worth while? If you got to impress a President or the Queen of England or Billy Graham, would that give you a sense of great accomplishment? If you answered "yes", why don't you feel that same level of contentment performing for an audience of one, when that one is God? If the answer is "no", and it's the fame you seek, then it's time to reevaluate the motivation of the heart.
Whether your "performance" was decades ago, last week, or is still to come, dedicate it to the Lord. Offer it up as your sacrifice, honoring Him with your talents. If He desires to bring the increase, He certainly will. If not, allow yourself the humbling revelation that you've performed for the greatest dignitary of all time. Before you even took the stage, He had turned His chair and watched with great satisfaction as you lived out the gifts and talents that He designed for you to have.