My husband and I were watching American Ninja Warriors the other night, and were totally and completely impressed with this guy, Drew Knapp, who not only completed the ANW course in 3 minutes and twenty five seconds, advancing to the finals, but did so in jaw dropping fashion by finishing the fifth course by running and flipping mid-air into a head stand!
It was incredible, and I found him (and so many of the ANW competitors) so inspiring after learning about his back story. So many of these guys overcome so much adversity by discipling and applying themselves to this very difficult but rewarding lifestyle of training.
What also caught my eye was the scripture verse he had written on his body. Did you catch it? The verse he was pointing us to was 1 Peter 4: 10. I found myself scrambling to my bible to read what message he was trying to send. The verse says: As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
I thought that was so awesome. This guy just completed something men and women alike are awed by, and what does he do? He turns the praise towards God’s goodness. Amazing.
Another video that I have always found immensely inspiring is this video from Italy’s The Voice. It’s a couple of years old, but I was so moved by it I thought I would share in case you haven’t seen it. I recommend watching the whole video, but if you wish, fast forward to 3:07 to hone more quickly in on my point.
When asked why she is there (a nun!?) Sr. Cristina’s response was: I have a gift and I am giving it to you. Shouldn’t things be this way? To which everyone responds, Bravo, bravo!
Coming from the mouth of someone say, like Donald Trump or Kanye West, the audience might receive her message as completely arrogant and therefore vapid.
But with her, there is no hint of arrogance in her voice. Her confidence is centered wholly and completely in her realization that she is a daughter of Christ, and all good things that she possesses and the talents that she has, have been given to her by Him to use for the betterment of the world. She was telling the world the same thing that we read in 1 Peter: As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. And just look at the response! I have always been so moved by this video, particularly because of the response we see in the shows “hardest” of judges, J-AX, a well known rapper in Italy, whose very body draws you into an image of death with the skull-and-wings tattoo he has on his neck and who claimed himself to be “the devil” to her “holy water.” He was visibly the most moved of them all–moved even to the point of tears upon seeing who he turned for: this little, humble-all-the-way-to-her-shoes nun, rocking out for God.
The lyrics took on a whole new meaning for him in that moment:
You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don’t worry ’cause
Everything’s going to be alright
No one can get in the way of what I feel for You.
She went on to win the whole competition, and she did it while turning well-known pop songs into love ballads to the Lord.
So often it is so easy to just go on living life, willingly unaware of our truly powerful and great potential to accomplish amazing things in this life for God. God has blessed each and everyone of us with different talents and abilities, and if we work to discipline those talents, make the very best of them, then go forth and do something for God with them, we can change peoples lives and inspire others to do the same. Whether you are good at navigating through intense obstacle courses because you are insanely fit, or a good singer, or have the ability to speak so that people listen to you; whether you are organized and a good leader, an artist, a good writer, or are the life of the party–whatever your gifts are…if you seek to use these gifts to points others to God, you will begin to change the world.
We all see the incredible ripple effect people have on the world when they use their gifts for some other end in mind (be it pleasure, success, wealth, power, etc.). Today we are bombarded with messages that are so totally far from God’s law, ultimately, because the world is going crazy. Yet, we all thirst and we are all in need of God’s goodness, and it is up to us to be the love of God in the world.
Sure, Drew Knapp would’ve still been incredibly impressive in his competing and completing the ANW challenge, but he did so much more than impress with his abilities–he used his abilities to point people towards God’s kingdom; to send the message that each of us are given gifts by God that we are called to use for others as instruments of God’s grace in the world. Sure, Sister Cristina could have stayed in the convent, singing quietly in the chorus in her chapel, but had she done that the world would not have been afforded the opportunity of seeing God’s grace working in her life. (J-ax would not have considered what it would have been like had he met her earlier: “Maybe I would have become the Pope!”)
I’ll leave you with a quote:
We become most truly human in the measure in which we go out of ourselves and give ourselves for the sake of others. This ‘law of the gift’… is inscribed deep in the dynamic structure of the person as fashioned in the image of the divine. ‘The human being, who is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself, cannot attain its full identity except through a disinterested gift of self’ (GS 24).
Your giftedness is an opportunity to show to the world the true gift you have been given: the life you live in Christ, who loves you and gave his life for you.
For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property…and he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more. His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a littler, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash teeth. (Matthew 25:14-30)