"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 29, 2009
I recently saw something that was one of the most inspiring things I've seen in quite some time. There was an article in the newspaper about a lady named Susan Boyle.
Susan lives alone in a row house with her cat, a drab existence in one of Scotland's poorest regions. She cared for her mother for many years, never married, and according to her, has never been kissed. She sang for years in her local church and at karaoke night at the local pub. Neighbors knew she could sing, but that was the limit of her audience.
Recently she sang on the TV show "Britain's Got Talent". She said that she did it in memory of her late mother, to show that she could do something with her life.
After reading the article, I had Jon pull up You Tube on the internet and do a search on Susan Boyle. The producers of the TV show had posted her song on You Tube and I wanted to see her performance.
When she walked out on the stage all you noticed was a frumpy woman with frizzy gray hair. She is only 47, but looked much older than that. You almost felt sorry for her. Simon Cowell, the notorious hard-nosed judge of American Idol fame, was one of the three judges. The camera caught him rolling his eyes when he saw her walk out. There were giggles from the audience and you could see that they were all thinking that this was nothing but a big joke. The judges asked her a couple questions before she sang and she awkwardly wiggled her hips in response as she answered. The audience once again chuckled, and you could tell from their facial expressions that they just wanted her performance to end so they could move on.
Then the music began to play, and as Susan opened her mouth and began to sing, something amazing happened. As she started singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables" her extraordinary voice drew startled looks and then delighted smiles from Simon Cowell and the other two judges. The audience leapt to their feet and began to applaud.
Suddenly you no longer noticed her appearance; you only heard the truly remarkable talent of this woman. It was the most awesome thing I've witnessed in a long time. Here was a lady who had no formal vocal training, who has spent her life living in one of Scotland's poorest regions, singing better than many professionals I've heard. It was obvious when she walked out on stage what the judges and audience were thinking. They were ready to write her off and send her on her way. Judging from her outward appearance, it was easy to assume that this was some wanna-be with no talent. But when she opened her mouth, something miraculous suddenly took place. People's facial expressions immediately changed and they were cheering her on. She got a standing ovation during the song, as well as afterwards. Her performance struck a cord within me when I heard it and I was in awe of her talent.
Since her debut, there have been millions (yes, millions) of hits on her You Tube performance. Interview requests from all around the world have poured in. Oprah Winfrey has invited Susan onto her show. Hollywood elite have become fans of her singing.
To friends and neighbors in Blackburn, a community of 4,750 people, it was not surprising that their local treasure's talent should finally be recognized. When she walked into church after her television performance, she was given a standing ovation.
In the last few days, I'm sure that Susan Boyle's life has changed in a way that she only dreamed of. I daresay that it has probably changed in more ways than she ever thought possible. Well known celebrities, that she has only watched on TV or read about, are now wanting an audience with her.
I have heard individuals make remarks along the lines of, "Nothing good ever happens to me. You have to be rich or know the right people to get ahead in life." "I should have known things wouldn't work out for me; they never do!" "I knew this would happen to me. I always get all the bad luck."
They go through their entire life with a defeatist attitude and never dare to dream or set goals. They are convinced that bad things are going to happen to them, so why try. Or else they think because of their background or where they live, no wonderful opportunities will ever open up for them. How sad an existence that must be. It's as if they've given up all hope, and have become acceptant of their life being filled with drudgery and negativity.
Susan's story was a reminder to me that great blessing and good things can happen to everyone. It doesn't matter how rich or poor you are, who you do or do not know, if you have influential connections or not, etc. It comes from being willing to take a risk and put yourself on the line. That's something that most people aren't willing to do. They are so worried about what could go wrong that they aren't committed enough to take that first step of faith.
Susan Boyle went from being known only within her own small community, to having her name recognized by millions of people worldwide; literally overnight.
Last week I began writing a series about stories from the Bible that would seem exaggerated or made up, were it not written in God's Word.
Jesus grew up in the small village of Nazareth. Although his parents and others within their small community knew that He was the Messiah, it did not become apparent until he was thirty years old. Joseph was a carpenter, and I'm sure that Jesus grew up helping him out. He had brothers and sisters who were born to Mary and Joseph, after his birth. He didn't grow up continuously performing miracles or doing great feats. Even though Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, He came to earth to live among mankind, and that's exactly what He did. He didn't grow up as a celebrity of renown status.
I'm sure there were those who were told about His birth, but after years of not seeing Him do miracles and minister, they began to doubt that He truly was the promised Messiah. After all, wouldn't the Messiah be constantly doing supernatural wonders and begin His ministry from the time He was old enough to travel and speak?!
When it came time for Jesus to begin His ministry, the first thing He did was choose the twelve men who were to be His disciples. They didn't come to His crusade or revival meetings to hear Him speak and watch Him perform miracles, then decide to follow Him. Jesus chose men who believed that He was truly the Messiah and called them to follow Him. They had never seen Him do anything miraculous prior to this.
In fact when Philip told Nathanael that they had found the promised One, his response was, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" That was the most unlikely place for the Messiah to have been living.
There was a wedding that took place, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, was attending as a guest. Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to attend. On the third day, they ran out of wine and Mary told Jesus about it. His response was, "What does your concern have to do with Me?"
His mother told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do.
There were six large waterpots which held twenty to thirty gallons apiece. Jesus told the servants to fill them with water. Then He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast."
The master tasted it, not knowing where it had came from. He called the bridegroom and said, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have become drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"
This was the beginning of signs that Jesus did, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
I've never made wine, but I am smart enough to know that you can't make it out of pure water. You can't just pour water in a waterpot and it immediately turn into wine. Wine is made from grapes and has to ferment for quite some time.
All Jesus did was have the servants pour water in the huge waterpots. He didn't add anything to it; He didn't wave His hand over the top and speak some words commanding it to change to wine; nor did He let the water set in the jugs for a while. He didn't doubt that the water had turned into wine or have one of the disciples do a taste test before serving it to the guest. After the waterpots were filled, He immediately told the servant to take a cup to the master of the feast. This may have been His first miracle to perform, but He had no doubt that there was quality wine in the waterpots.
Jesus wasn't born to wealthy influential people. He didn't spend His years on earth living in luxury or in a huge mansion with servants. He was raised in a lowly poor village. In fact He was raised in a place where no one thought anything good could come from there.
But when His time came to begin to minister, miraculous things began to happen and He began to travel and teach thousands of people.
Never doubt what God can do through you or in your circumstance. Even though your background may not be influential or perfect, He can open doors that no one would believe possible. When the timing is right, He can do what nobody thought could ever be done. God can take nothing and make something out of it. If need be, He can turn "water into wine". He doesn't need a lot to work with in order to bring about a miracle. The servants didn't do anything except be obedient. When Jesus told them to fill the waterpots with water, that's what they did. When He told them to draw some out and take it to the master of the feast, that's exactly what they did.
Don't underestimate the power of God in your life. Don't limit Him by your limited thinking. But when you feel urged to do something, be obedient. It may not make sense or feel like the right answer, but God can do the impossible in each situation. He can open doors that no man can open, and shut those that no man can shut.
Sometimes greatness is tough. Noah had to spend years building his ark. Suppose after the first week, he said, "Ah, forget it."
After the first time the Israelites complained, suppose Moses said, "Fine, go back. Whatever."
Sometimes the journey is also important. The journey can change us, help us grow, and give us perseverance. I don't pretend to understand any of it. But I'm convinced that the harder tasks are also the more important and the more valuable.
There are times when I really don't know what to cook, or need to go grocery shopping so don't have all the right ingredients for anything in particular. That's when I see what I do have and experiment. Sometimes it turns out, and sometimes it's not quite so tasty. I know that my sisters do this too.
A while back I was wanting Mexican for supper, but didn't have all the ingredients for any recipe. So I gathered what I had and put it together. I had 4 flour tortillas. I layered two in the bottom of the pan. Then I browned the hamburger; added some Velveeta that I had, and a can of rotel. I poured half of that mixture over the tortillas; topped with the remaining 2 tortillas, then the remainder of the beef mixture. I then put shredded cheese over the top, and baked on 350 for 20 minutes. After dipping our servings out, we topped it with sour cream. It was pretty tasty.
The next day my sister called and couldn't think of anything to cook for supper, so I told her what I had made. She decided to try it. Her daughter-in-law commented, "This is really good. What do you call it?" "Uh.... burrito casserole?!" My sister told her that I had made it up out of ingredients I had, then she made it with what she had, so it wasn't an actual recipe from a book.
There have been times when I've made a box of macaroni and cheese, then browned hamburger and mixed in with it; or I've done that with diced ham also. Sometimes I mix it together, then pour in a casserole dish and top with shredded cheese and bake until the cheese melts.
Don't be afraid to be a little creative in the kitchen at times. When I am, I will always ask my husband, "Is this something you'd want me to make again or not?"
A few weeks ago I requested special prayer for my niece, Janee', who started going into premature labor at 29 weeks. God was faithful to answer, and she was able to carry her baby till 37 weeks. Jax was born on April 22nd at 6:40 a.m. He was 19 inches long and weighed 6 lbs. 15 oz.; and that was with him being three weeks early!
While pregnant, the ultrasound showed an enlarged kidney and that the urethra tube was blocked, not allowing the kidney to drain. Janee' was told that he might possibly have to have surgery after his birth to correct that. But they did a test before Jax left the hospital and his kidney is perfect. They also thought he might possibly have some hearing loss in his left ear, but further test showed that he has perfect hearing also. God is so good and faithful!
Jax is an absolutely gorgeous baby with a chubby round face, and light brown hair with a blondish red tint to it. Janee' and Jax are home and are both doing great. Jeremy and Janee' are very proud parents and excited with this special first addition to their home. Thanks for your prayers.
If you can't trust God, the Creator of the universe, whom can you trust?
If you can't believe in God and put your faith in Him, a God who is Truth and cannot lie, whom can you believe and put your faith in?
We love you!
Loretta & Jon