I have been told that I have some of the STRANGEST stories around…well…here you go! When my oldest son was about 8 years old, I had the pleasure (?) of serving as the “warm up act” for the Miss Illinois Pageant. (Don’t ask…it’s a LONG and rather dull story!) As I have mentioned before, I am a magician/juggler, and they needed someone to come and simply warm up the crowd. I was NOT televised or featured- instead, I was the sacrificial lamb who was led out to get the crowd “off their hands” as they say and get them ready to make some noise. SO…I packed up my cases AND my son, who wanted to serve as my “assistant”, and headed out. What I found was rather interesting! There were people there who were glad to see me, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show, and responded accordingly. And then I found some people who came to see the pageant and couldn’t tell the difference between my presence there and the worse idea they had ever heard!! Well, my portion of the show started, and my son- the assistant you may remember- was a bit…scared. Stage fright set in and he just kind of stood there, deer in the headlights look plastered on his face, for the first part of the show. But as we went on, he began to loosen up a bit. By the time I got to the juggling portion, he was pretty comfortable. SO comfortable, in fact, that he ad-libbed a line that stole the show and was the biggest response of the whole night. One of the things I do is juggle a butcher knife along with two juggling balls. Leading up to it, I do what I call “The Lettuce of Death”! I begin with the obligatory 2 balls and an apple, eating the apple while I juggle. Then I switch from the apple to a head of lettuce. I build up the lettuce as being SO dangerous- “look at these razor-sharp edges…” You get the idea. Then, I juggle two balls and the head of lettuce, eating the lettuce as I go. The result is that lettuce flies EVERYWHERE and pieces of it end up hanging out of my mouth. (My mother would be SO proud! An expensive, 4-year college degree being put to GOOD use!) Well, right at the end of The Lettuce of Death, as I began to transition into the butcher knife as the REAL dangerous part, my son looks at me, walks over, picks up a big leaf of lettuce, takes a bite, looks at the audience and says, “You know, actually, The Lettuce of Death is QUITE tasty!” The place went up for grabs and any tenuous hold I had on the audience to begin with was gone, never to be regained! I muddled through the rest of the act, realizing this classically-trained performer had been upstaged by an upstart!
Ego is an interesting thing. You need SOME- confidence in your God-given gifts is essential to using them to their fullest in the world. But too much causes all sorts of problems. It causes us to lose focus, to become obsessed with ourselves, and to forget Who it is that gave us the gifts we have in the first place. Now, I find when I talk about this, folks fall into 3 camps: 1) “I HAVE no talent”, 2) “I HAVE talent- I don’t need God”, and 3) “I have certain gifts and graces, given by God, that are dependent upon Him for their success.” Where are YOU in that spectrum? Only you (and God) know the answer to that question. But the answer affects how you use those gifts- how you live your life.
If you feel you HAVE no talent…sorry, but you’re wrong. We are all gifted by God- not in the same way, but we all have things that we are good at that can be used to serve God through serving others. If you feel you have talent but no need for connection to or thankfulness for God…again, sorry, but you’re wrong. What you have is a gift- you need to be mindful of the fact that the gift could be fleeting AND that there should be thankfulness to the One Who provided it. If you recognize that you have certain gifts and graces which are wholly dependent upon God for both their presence in your life and their power to impact others- you’re on the right track! It took a dressing down from an upstart 8-year old to help me understand this concept- I pray it settles into your soul in an easier and less embarrassing fashion!
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