I was one of the millions of people blown away by Mandy Harvey’s inspiring performance on America’s Got Talent. Mandy, 29, explained to the judges that she had been singing since the age of four, but due to a connective tissue disorder, she lost her hearing at age 18. As an amateur musician and avid music lover myself, I well-comprehended the devastation stemming from the loss of this irreplaceable sense. Mandy told the judges, “After I lost my hearing, I gave up, but I want to do more with my life than just give up.”
After sharing her story, Mandy opened her mouth and sang (watch the full video by clicking this link). Her clear, pitch-perfect voice, soared through the hall, to jaw-dropping astonishment.
She sang. I cried.
I know that feeling she sang about—the feeling that you are giving it your best and your best is never enough; the feeling that no matter how hard you try, you keep on getting knocked down.
As these thoughts ran through my head, she sang, “If I would try… and I will try… the only thing in my way is me.” Here she was, a girl who could not hear, singing in tune and singing beautifully.
She tried… and she succeeded.
At the end of her song, Simon Cowell—a man rarely impressed—exuberantly slammed his palm on “the golden buzzer,” releasing a dazzling shower of confetti. The room was a buzz of tears, applause, and triumphant joy.
It was a Hollywood-worthy ending to her inspirational tale.
We need moments of inspiration like Mandy’s, because those mountain-top-moments are just that—moments. Our daily grind is a harsh wilderness of broken dreams and forgotten successes. It gives us hope to think that if we keep on trying, there may be a golden buzzer waiting for us around the corner.
We see these stories and rejoice…
…and then we look at all the efforts we’ve invested—in our careers, our children, our churches—and all our wretched shortcomings come home to us.
Triumphs are few. Failures are many.
- We invest years teaching Bible classes, only to see countless children fall away in their adulthood.
- We work long hours to save for the future, and watch it evaporate on the stock market.
- We try to keep our children healthy, only to watch with heartache as they are afflicted with physical or mental illness.
We work so hard…
…and it feels so…
There is no shower of confetti for the mom who diligently cares for and trains her children.
There is no applause for the child lovingly caring for their elderly parent.
There is no standing ovation for the busy, hard-working people who make time to visit the forgotten at the nursing home or cook meals for the sick.
It never feels like enough…
Like Mandy, when we are dealt a severe blow, all we want to do is give up.
She didn’t give up—nor should I. Nor should you.
If you are struggling to keep on doing what is good and right, remember three things:
Nothing Given to God is Overlooked. Ever.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.
~ Proverbs 15.3, ESV
God sees every drop of sweat, every dime spent, every minute used—and when these are given in love, He treasures them. In our distracted world, these sacrifices are missed—but not by our Heavenly Father.
You may never know how much your sacrifice meant to someone on earth. I could list so many whose sacrifices, however small, I dearly appreciate. They prayed for me, taught me, made me welcome to a new place, invited me into their lives, took me out to lunch, encouraged me when I wanted to quit, listened to me weep, babysat my kids.
I remember all of their names, and when I think of them, I give thanks for them and pray for them.
We’ve got to Keep on Trying.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
~ 1 Corinthians 9.24-25, NASB
We know that we will not be the lone winners in heaven. Everyone washed in the blood of Christ who runs their race to the end will receive their crown of life by His grace. Paul tells us to run as though their is only one; meaning to give it everything we’ve got!
We don’t half-heartedly walk this race. We don’t “try” the way a bored 9-year old does on an irksome homework assignment; we “try” with the diligence of an olympic athlete going for gold.
Sometimes we wonder why we keep on trying.
Sometimes we feel, as Mandy sang, “The sky is gray more than it is blue.”
Sometimes we want to just give up.
Don’t give up.
Give the best of everything to God in love and leave the results in His hands.
Heavenly glory is so much greater
Why do you do what you do? Is it for yourself? Is it for the Lord? Is it for others? If our “why” is to gain status in this life only, we will assuredly be disappointed. Our success will someday be forgotten.
Who can tell me the name of the Super Bowl Champion Quarterback of 1974? (Maybe if you look it up online…)
How’s that palace of King Nebuchadnezzar holding up? Oh, right… it isn’t.
What about the winner of the Oscar for Best Actor in 1981? Again… maybe if you look it up.
Earthly glory fades. Celebrities are forgotten. Kings Die. Palaces crumble. Companies go bankrupt. Countries fall.
Heavenly glory is so much greater.
Nothing in this world, no matter how breathtaking, will ever compare to Jesus saying, “well done, good and faithful servant.”
While we want gratification in this life, the real joy is waiting for us on the other side.