Every so often I watch a YouTube video of past auditions
for American Idol. The video pans in on the
contestants as they rally with their parents or friends, nervously anticipating
what would happen after they went through “the chamber.” A little joking to ease the nerves, a lot of
moving around to disguise the shakes, and a bunch of hugs go around until the
door opens. A few tense moments in the
chamber, and the green light flashes on.
It’s show time.
Some of the contestants hear a resounding “Yes!” after
performing, and walk away with that craved Golden Ticket that says, “Congratulations,
welcome to Hollywood!” Others aren’t as
fortunate. Having spilled their musical
guts to the judges, they exit through the chamber with three “No’s” trailing
behind them. It’s a dream come true for
some, and heartbreak for others reaching for stardom.
Some people pursue fame, while others are content to
sit behind the scenes. One thing is true
of everyone, though – we all want to be accepted. We want to be loved for who we are, even if our
voices crack and our pitch isn’t quite on target.
Unfortunately, people’s expectations aren’t as
simple as a “good job” and “we think you’re great.” Criticism shows up because we’re not good
enough, breaking our morale and self confidence. We’re rejected for the next audition and
suddenly our lives seem meaningless.
Obviously our flaws were too big to overlook.
Gratefully, American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent, and
the X-Factor aren’t the only ones who have a say in our value. God has an opinion of His own . . . and it’s
a little more accepting.
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the
foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in
love. Having predestined us unto the
adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure
of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace wherein he had made us
accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)
This is good news to us acceptance-seekers! God didn’t just say that He liked us. It’s far better than that! Before the world
was ever made, He had chosen, predestined, and accepted us. No one had to force Him; it was His “good
pleasure” to hand us that wonderful Golden ticket of acceptance!
Sure, our lives might get a little pitchy and our
actions less than strong. He, however,
still loves us and sends us to the next round.
He may enroll us in voice lessons to fix the flaws, but He never rules
out our potential and says we’re not ready for the stage. He hears our voices through the ears of the Cross,
and the blood that Jesus shed in our place.
No longer is our acceptance based on the sound of our voice, the
charisma of our stage presence, or the uniqueness of our style. It’s based on who we are – a child adopted
into God’s family.
American Idol may never see our faces or hear our
voices, but one thing is sure - everyone in God’s show wins.
I grew up being a perfectionist. Making a mistake was the end of the
world. Oh, how I bawled when I got into
trouble! I was crushed at the slightest
mistake. Even some incidents when I really hadn’t done anything morally wrong
sent me into distress.
One such incident took place in my hometown of
Broken Bow, Nebraska where I got my driver’s license. My Father, naturally, was
my coach. Timid little me would crawl
into our full-sized van and drive around the streets of our tiny farm
town. Unfortunately, it wasn’t without
its unusual streets. Our house was built
on the edge of a hill. On one particular
driving lesson, I hadn’t quite mastered how soon I should put on my breaks for
certain stops. Coming down that hill, I
turned into our driveway at a speed just a tad too fast. Crash! I ran into Dad’s newly built garbage can
corral. Dad calmly got out to survey the
damage and I fled to my bedroom in tears.
A few minutes later Dad appeared to comfort me. His laid back self didn’t think it was a big
deal. In fact, I think he was rather
baffled why I didn’t consider a simple apology sufficient.
My first problem was that my value was found in my
performance, not in the value God placed on me.
As the years went by, though, doing right started to become a list of
rules that I needed to follow in order to be right with God. A repentant heart and simple confession didn’t
seem to be enough to get over my mistake.
The pressure of always doing right officially set in.
It’s so easy to get caught in the middle of that
vicious list of “dos” and “don’ts.” It’s
stressful, to say the least. It’s a constant focus on behavior, rather than on
the Person who gave us the instructions.
It becomes a burden, a chore. The
motivation is to follow law, rather than enjoying the journey of being a born-again
child of God. Surely God has a better
The closer I get to Jesus I’m discovering how love
and behavior go hand in hand. In John
14:15, Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” Love.
We use the word loosely in this world, but Jesus’ whole mission to the world
was based on that word. He loved us so
much that He found a way to redeem us from the sins that kept us separated from
God. Laying down His life stopped being
a chore when He thought of the reward that lay before Him. (John 15:13; John
Rather than do what we must do out of obligation, Jesus is asking us to do it out of a
heart of love for Him. That is the
greatest, purest motivation anyone could have when serving Jesus. Our love for Him is birthed from the
sacrifice He made because He first loved us (I John 4:19), and is followed by a
joyful commitment to His Lordship. A must do develops into a want to.
When thinking about the Ten Commandments and all the
other Biblical instructions, we have the challenge to look at them through the
eyes of love rather than obligation. What
once seemed to be a list of legalistic law can now be God’s guidelines of love
that leads our lives. With every act of
obedience and every good deed done, we can honestly say we did it all for the
sake of love.
never seen a nativity set without three wise men huddled around the
manger. Usually at least one camel is
present, representing the wise men’s long journey. Every figure is robed immaculately and
holding out beautiful gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They came prepared, expecting to find royalty
at the end of their trek. They didn’t
expect a child because they had spent years studying the galaxies. They didn’t reach their goal because their
money bought them the finest tracking gadgets.
They found the Messiah because they stayed connected to God’s method of
leading. They followed the star. (Matthew 2:1-12)
2:9 says the star “went before them.”
It wasn’t hovering over them, following them, or pushing them on from
behind. It always stayed where the wise
men could see it, directing their next steps forward. I cringe to think what would have happened if
the wise men had given up following and tried to route their own way to
Jesus. What a tragedy if they had turned
back because the trip was taking too long, they couldn’t stand each other’s
company anymore, or they were pining for the comforts of home. The Christmas story wouldn’t have been the
same. Jesus wouldn’t have received the
gifts that God used to provide for His Son’s earthly needs. The wise men wouldn’t have received the reward
for their efforts, gained an inspiring story to share with their children, or
been included in the manger scene two thousand years later!
every one of us has stopped following the star at one point or another. We’ve gotten discouraged when we weren’t
reaching the end how and when we wanted.
We’ve gone back to our past, thinking we’ve missed something. In times like these, Philippians 3:12-15
exhorts us to keep moving ahead: “Not that I have already attained, or am
already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ
Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things
which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of
God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us,
as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise,
God will reveal even this to you.”
the wise men, God has set a prize in front of us. We won’t see it, however, if we’re getting
distracted by our past mistakes, hurts, disappointments, or even our past joys. Jesus is asking us to focus on Him, our
star. Our past may draw us back, but
when our eyes are on our star, we’ve got to remember that He is leading ahead,
not pushing from behind. He’s in our
present and future, not hanging out in our past. He’s trying to take us to an exciting place where
He alone can take us. He’s asking us to
forget what’s behind and reach forward to where He is.
believe we all want to be “wise men,” mature like Philippians 3:15 says. In God’s eyes, wise and mature people “forget
those things which are behind.” They
press forward because people who follow their star always get the prize!
When we imagine a successful person, we immediately
visualize someone who is famous for their talent or looks, who owns half the
city of New York, or who has a bank account the size of Texas. Culture has ingrained in our heads that this
is what it means to be a success – have lots, do lots, and be lots. However, only a small percentage of the world
came claim all these “lots.” So where
does that leave the rest of us average little people who can’t claim all this
Thankfully, God hasn’t left us “average” people on
the side-lines, forgotten and unappreciated.
His view of success is quite a bit different than ours, and applies to
everyone, not just an elite group of people.
One day we all will stand
before God and give an account of our lives.
Gone are the diplomas, trophies, bank accounts, and fans. Stripped of all the world claims as important
and successful, we will stand naked before the God of the universe (2
Corinthians 5:10). The question is, will
God appreciate our efforts toward being successful? Will all that cash, popularity, and property mean
much to God the day we stand before Him?
When we read through I Corinthians 3:11-17, we find
that there are some things that will stand the testing of God’s fire, and some
things that will burn in its heat. Comparing
our lives against a quick checklist can decide whether we’ll have anything left
after God’s test. Did becoming the world’s
richest person bring God glory or simply satisfy ourselves? Was all the power we had for our gain or God’s? When we flashed our smile in front of
flashing cameras, was it for us or for the Kingdom of God? If the answer is that it was for our glory
then we know there won’t be anything left on that “foundation.” All that stuff was just “wood, hay, and straw,”
no match for a blaze.
On the other hand, if everything we pursued pointed
to Jesus and gave Him the glory, what’s left on the foundation will be quite a
bit different. Gold, silver, and precious
stones have the strength to go untouched by fire. When the blaze is doused, they will still be
there, sparkling and precious to God because it was done for Him.
The temptation is to look at our lives and question
our worth. When everyone claims that
true success comes from a Bill Gates bank account or a Jennifer Aniston
filmography, we need to stop and consider whose standard matters most. In the end, we won’t be answering to a panel
of judges or a financial institute. We
will be answering to God, our Creator and the “author and finisher of our faith”
(Hebrews 12:2). He alone decides our
eternity. More than anything, our cry
should be not for worldly success, but to hear our Father God say, “Well done,
good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you
ruler over many things. enter into the
joy of the Lord.” (Matthew 25:21).
Okay, I know you’re thinking: “Are you talking to me? Since when have I been a princess?” Well, surprise! You are a princess! As a daughter of the King of Kings, you are royalty in His family. Maybe your home right now isn’t a castle. Maybe you don’t wear a tiara to school every day. But because you’ve been adopted into God’s family through the sacrifice of Jesus, you have inherited much more than the glamour of Cinderella. You’ve been given a beauty that no other girl but a King’s daughter could have. You’re not just any princess. You’re God’s princess.
This blog is for you, a young woman after God’s own heart. As you read each post, I hope you will be encouraged to wear your crown with pride!
"Favor is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she will be praised." Proverbs 31:30
Prayer for Salvation
Lord Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you. And because of my sin, I know that when I die I will go to hell. But I want to be saved. I turn away from my sins and I call on the Name of Jesus to save me. Jesus, be my Lord and Savior. Forgive my sins. Give me a new heart and the gift of eternal life. I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me!