Image by Bert Kommerij via Flickr
I almost never watch TV any more, so I probably never would have heard of Susan Boyle if someone hadn’t posted a link on Facebook.
I confess, I’ve watched the YouTube video at least five times in the past few days. Sometimes it has even made me weep.
Sure, it has all the appeal of a Cinderella story. An unknown woman with a less-than-polished stage presence faces the sneers of a cynical crowd, then brings them to their feet with her stunning singing voice. When she’s through dazzling everyone, she turns right back into the awkward 47-year-old who admits she’s never dated or been kissed. And yet the crowd who once mocked her now loves her. She is an overnight global sensation who sits in humble awe, calling her success “a miracle” because she truly doesn’t realize how phenomenal she is. What story could be better?
Oh, but wait, it does get better! Because she lives in an unattractive house in a little Scottish village, the same house she grew up in. The house where she gave up her dreams of a singing career to take care of her parents until their deaths.
A dream died and was resurrected for a dutiful, loving daughter. It’s perfect.
I admit, I love it. I hope for the absolute best for her.
But as I thought about her today, I found myself developing an almost maternal concern for her (even though she’s a few years older than I am). I even found myself praying for her, that God would protect her from the hazards of this newfound fame.
The wolves will be circling, especially the men who want bragging rights for giving Susan Boyle her first kiss. She could be used and abused and hurt pretty badly, especially since the sudden rush of adulation and offers would leave anyone reeling and prone to uncharacteristically foolish decisions.
Isn’t that sad? In a perfect world, as in the fairy tales we love, that one big break always leads to “happily ever after.” And I hope it does for Susan. But the truth of the matter is, we all have an enemy…a spiritual enemy who loves to take the good things that God gives to us, and turn them against us.
As I pondered this fact, and the perils of sudden success, it occurred to me that we all have received gifts from God. Not all are as stunning as the voice which He gave to Susan, but all are perfectly suited for the role that He wants us to play in the world.
And our enemy can see them as well as we can, if not better. He marshals his forces against us right there, where God has placed our gifts.
That means you and I have hazards to face which are specific to us, to our gifts and our circumstances. And some of those dangers remain hidden like landmines, ready to explode when we experience success.
The other day I was talking to a friend about where she wants her budding ministry to go, and I heard myself saying, “God may protect you from too much success in that area until you’re ready to have it without letting it go to your head.” And even as I said it, I thought of how I feel about my blog, and how few people ever read the words I write.
Is God protecting me from too much success, because I’m not ready to handle it yet?
Now, maybe some of you bold, adventurous types might not be able to relate to this, but I love the idea of being protected. I love the picture of God as my Heavenly Father, keeping me safe from the jaws of the ravenous wolves.
Pride is one of the worst carnivores out there, but there are certainly other problems that accompany success. My Father sees them all, even though I don’t.
Am I prepared to be content with however small my blog may be, trusting God that it’s just the right size for now?
Are you prepared to trust God for what He does with your gifts?
Can you and I thank God together for how He’s using us now, even if it’s not what we’d dreamed of? And can we pray that He’ll prepare us to face the challenges of being used in greater ways without becoming some lurking wolf’s lunch?
Can we thank Him for the “Happily Ever After,” even though we may not see it until we get to Heaven?
And while we’re at it, maybe we can lift up a prayer or two for Susan Boyle of West Lothian, Scotland. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t help caring about her.