A Glimpse Into Eternity

You’d have to be fully off the grid, not to have heard of Susan Boyle, the 47 year-old woman who recently shocked the audience and judges of Britain’s Got Talent with the most incredible performance of The Dream I Dreamed from Les Miserables. It was featured on news shows throughout the U.S. and as of today the You Tube video has as of this morning been viewed over 12 million times.

It may be impossible to watch that video and not be deeply moved. There are lots of factors to that. If you want to read her back story, you can do so here. It’s great TV—the context, the diminished expectations, the surprise or an incredible voice and the passion behind her song. But I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t something more. If you haven’t listened to the lyrics, listen carefully. This is the story of a young dream that life destroyed and the attempt to still find God in the disappointment. Here’s just a few lines:

And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather…

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed The dream I dreamed.

Part of the reason this is so powerful is not just her voice, but that her life seems a very parable of the song she sings. She had a dream to be a famous singer that had not be realized before last week, at 47 years of age. She’s not alone. A lot of very creative people live with similar disappointed dreams, and most won’t get this kind of break, even at 47.

Every child grows up with dreams, and the twists and turns of life often crush them. Sometimes that’s because they’ve been so abused and diminished that their spirit is crushed. Sometimes it’s simply that they don’t have the right look, or lived in the right place or had the right opportunity. But I suspect for many it’s because our dreams weren’t so much about the gift that was in us, but how rich, influential or famous we wanted that gift to make us. For every person that becomes a pro athlete, hundreds of thousands more get left in the dust. For every one who wins a gold medal, writes a best-seller, or cuts a platinum album, hundreds of thousands of others live like failures because they didn’t.

If our dreams hinge on the response of others, opportunities in this world are slim. By definition only a narrow few will end up playing professional sports, becoming a singing sensation or a best-selling author. If success only comes by being in the brightest spotlights, most of our dreams will be dashed as well. As I watched it for the fifth or sixth time last night, I couldn’t help but wonder if we’re not so deeply moved by the performance of this incredible woman because through her we are getting a glimpse into eternity. It’s not the crowd or the lights that make her performance noteworthy, but the fact that she is simply doing in the thrill of the moment what God created her to do.

In our twisted perceptions of the 21st Century, it is easy to think this talent wasted since she never got this chance until she was 47. But does the stage validate the gift? Was she, or her music, any less moving or less valuable when she sang to herself in the kitchen or in local gatherings in her village? Was it less moving to the kind of God who splashes wildflowers across mountainsides no human will ever see? Most of the best gifts I know in this life will never gather the spotlight, or wow the masses. I’m not sure God ever intended them to. Perhaps even the unrelenting attempt to find a mass audience or a bright enough spotlight so easily distorts the dream, or the gift, or the person as well. We all know how the realities of competition and glare of celebrity does more to ruin people than it does make them more whole or well-grounded.

When we finally arrive in eternity, no longer tethered by our false expectations, no longer competing against others with similar gifts, no longer measuring our worth by the false demands of a broken culture, we will all get to celebrate the full beauty of exactly what the Creator sowed in our lives. And I suspect we’ll celebrate it in each other, perhaps like we see it in Susan Boyle, and in doing so it will touch the deepest joys and ecstasies of our heart. And the Father will thrill right along with us.

I know the reality of disappointed dreams, as I coveted a mass influence through my writing from a very young age. It tortured me. The desire was a tyranny all its own, and God won it from my hands almost 15 years ago. For the first time I found myself for the first time content to write for the love of God and let him do with it what he will with the result. I found absolute joy in simply writing what was on my heart and making it available on a website. And I was blessed by each life it touched in the gentle obscurity of God taking it to those he wanted.

And now I know what it is to be involved with a best-seller over the last year and I’d be less than honest if I told you it was all the joy I dreamed it would be when I coveted it so long ago. Notoriety brings a different set of pressures and a different kind of audience, and it is now harder to do what God has asked me to do in the shadow of what the world calls success than it was before. I find more joy in helping one life find freedom than I have in perusing a best-seller lists. And now, I hardly write since my days are full of obligations and responsibilities far afield from that which God originally asked of me. Over the next few months I’ll be moving away from this space back to where Jesus has asked me to walk.

So here’s what I’m thinking as I watch that video: Isn’t it enough that all of us ply our creativity, gifts and dreams for an audience of One. It is enough that God hears us sing, that God reads what we write and that the truest joys are not doing it professionally, if we lack the opportunity, but doing it as hobby, sport and passion. Saying someone is an amateur has become a put-down today. But the root of that French word is people who do what they do for the love of it, not for money or the light of the stage.

And while I understand those who would love to see their passion find a greater voice and place in the culture, it is not failure for God’s grace in you to touch the people he has put before you, rather than the unknown masses. Your story is not validated because it spawns a book; your song is not more precious because it secures a recording contract. So sing, write, paint, plant, nurture, design, act, and build however it brings joy to your heart. And let God open whatever doors he has for it. Knock where you will, search as you have direction, but don’t despise the audience God has already given you—your children or spouse, friends and family, and local opportunities to touch lives in tens and twenties, rather than frustratingly trying to find a path to the thousands.

And I wonder if some of the dreams we carry in our heart, were never meant to find their fulfillment in this life. Perhaps they, too, are portals to a different age and time. Maybe they are a glimpse into that unrestrained eternity that will allow us all to be fully all that God created us to be. I’m convinced our greatest creativity and ecstasy lies beyond this temporal time zone.

And one day we will all know the absolute thrill of doing in freedom and joy the very thing God made us to do—that gives him and us the fullest of joys.

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42 Comments
  1. Gary R April 16, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    O God,
    let something essential happen to me,
    something more than interesting
    or entertaining
    or thoughtful.

    O God,
    let something essential happen to me,
    something awesome,
    something real.

    Speak to my condition, Lord,
    and change me somewhere inside where it matters …
    Let something happen to me
    which is my real self, God.

    TED LODER, GUERRILLAS OF GRACE

  2. Sherri April 16, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    That was soooo encouraging. I really needed to hear it. Your writings always lift me up, and send me to God. Thank you!

  3. Sue April 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Oh, Wayne, I LOVE this post!! Wonderful to read this morning. I was nodding at each paragraph.

    Creativity is such a funny area. I am learning so much from indulging in it. I agree, the past 15 years of wanting to use my talents have also been an interesting time of seeing how quickly what I write falls apart when I am writing to impress people. It’s also been a bummer to realise how much of my ego was involved, and how much it has got in the way of the simple enjoyment of expressing myself in words or pencils or messing about with clay, and how God is just always in that space. Creativity belongs to god 🙂 But yeah, to enter into that space and to see all the chains that come dragging behind you when you do. My goodness, what a giant big ball of irritation my ego is! It is so different when I am in that amazing space of being free from concerns about where this piece of writing is taking me, or what people will think, blah blah blah blah, and just writing for the joy of it. It is heady stuff indeed and hard won (though of course the paradox in this space ALWAYS seems to me to be that it is hard effort to learn to stop striving. Dontcha love a good paradox 😉

    To extrapolate the joy of creating out to the ages beyond this one, to consider what you have expressed here – wow. It reminds me of the scene in The Shack where the lights of all the people moved, when Mack and his father reconciled. Awesomeness 🙂

  4. Andy April 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Like many, I’ve watched it over and over. Last night, after so many times, I started to tear up.

    The best article I’ve seen to understand the back story was in The Herald. Here’s a link:
    http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/featuresopinon/display.var.2501746.0.The_beauty_that_matters_is_always_on_the_inside.php

    I hope you’ll find your way clear in the year ahead to move back to where you’re most called to be.

  5. Gary R April 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    O God,
    let something essential happen to me,
    something more than interesting
    or entertaining
    or thoughtful.

    O God,
    let something essential happen to me,
    something awesome,
    something real.

    Speak to my condition, Lord,
    and change me somewhere inside where it matters …
    Let something happen to me
    which is my real self, God.

    TED LODER, GUERRILLAS OF GRACE

  6. Sherri April 16, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    That was soooo encouraging. I really needed to hear it. Your writings always lift me up, and send me to God. Thank you!

  7. Sue April 16, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Oh, Wayne, I LOVE this post!! Wonderful to read this morning. I was nodding at each paragraph.

    Creativity is such a funny area. I am learning so much from indulging in it. I agree, the past 15 years of wanting to use my talents have also been an interesting time of seeing how quickly what I write falls apart when I am writing to impress people. It’s also been a bummer to realise how much of my ego was involved, and how much it has got in the way of the simple enjoyment of expressing myself in words or pencils or messing about with clay, and how God is just always in that space. Creativity belongs to god 🙂 But yeah, to enter into that space and to see all the chains that come dragging behind you when you do. My goodness, what a giant big ball of irritation my ego is! It is so different when I am in that amazing space of being free from concerns about where this piece of writing is taking me, or what people will think, blah blah blah blah, and just writing for the joy of it. It is heady stuff indeed and hard won (though of course the paradox in this space ALWAYS seems to me to be that it is hard effort to learn to stop striving. Dontcha love a good paradox 😉

    To extrapolate the joy of creating out to the ages beyond this one, to consider what you have expressed here – wow. It reminds me of the scene in The Shack where the lights of all the people moved, when Mack and his father reconciled. Awesomeness 🙂

  8. Andy April 16, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Like many, I’ve watched it over and over. Last night, after so many times, I started to tear up.

    The best article I’ve seen to understand the back story was in The Herald. Here’s a link:
    http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/featuresopinon/display.var.2501746.0.The_beauty_that_matters_is_always_on_the_inside.php

    I hope you’ll find your way clear in the year ahead to move back to where you’re most called to be.

  9. kent April 16, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I’ve never enjoyed just the simple pleasures of these things (all forms of art because they are all about creating beauty) more than I am today…..being a husband, a father, a friend, a hairstylist, a gardener, a music lover, a reader, a fumbling writer attempting to put my thoughts into the written word, and someone who is learning that resting in it all seems to not only allow myself and others to enjoy it more but it seems to enhance the beauty created.

    Awesome post Wayne

  10. kent April 16, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I’ve never enjoyed just the simple pleasures of these things (all forms of art because they are all about creating beauty) more than I am today…..being a husband, a father, a friend, a hairstylist, a gardener, a music lover, a reader, a fumbling writer attempting to put my thoughts into the written word, and someone who is learning that resting in it all seems to not only allow myself and others to enjoy it more but it seems to enhance the beauty created.

    Awesome post Wayne

  11. stacy wills April 17, 2009 at 5:17 am

    beautiful!

  12. Bob Quick April 17, 2009 at 5:19 am

    Thanks Wayne for posting your comments on precious Susan Boyle.
    I have felt this same way but could never express it as well as you have.

  13. Mike Rea April 17, 2009 at 7:03 am

    YES!

  14. stacy wills April 17, 2009 at 8:17 am

    beautiful!

  15. Bob Quick April 17, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Thanks Wayne for posting your comments on precious Susan Boyle.
    I have felt this same way but could never express it as well as you have.

  16. Bob April 17, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Thanks Wayne you clearly expressed the very feelings I felt. What a demonstration of Father’s love for all of us.

  17. Mike Rea April 17, 2009 at 10:03 am

    YES!

  18. Bob April 17, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Thanks Wayne you clearly expressed the very feelings I felt. What a demonstration of Father’s love for all of us.

  19. Don F April 17, 2009 at 11:25 am

    But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

    Despite the contempt that the judge panel and the crowd initially demonstrated towards this dear lady she maintained grace through it all.

  20. Sue Sheehy April 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Wayne – thanks for taking the time to express so clearly these things & ideas we’re all grappling with!

    This has been on my mind a lot lately:

    Proverbs 27:21 (The Message)

    The purity of silver and gold is tested by putting them in the fire;
    The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame. (other translations use ‘praise’)

    This really leaves me very grateful for obscurity!

    God give you bucketloads of grace as you deal with your new-found ‘fame’ – hope it’s both useful and mercifully brief?!

  21. Don F April 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

    Despite the contempt that the judge panel and the crowd initially demonstrated towards this dear lady she maintained grace through it all.

  22. Sue Sheehy April 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Wayne – thanks for taking the time to express so clearly these things & ideas we’re all grappling with!

    This has been on my mind a lot lately:

    Proverbs 27:21 (The Message)

    The purity of silver and gold is tested by putting them in the fire;
    The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame. (other translations use ‘praise’)

    This really leaves me very grateful for obscurity!

    God give you bucketloads of grace as you deal with your new-found ‘fame’ – hope it’s both useful and mercifully brief?!

  23. Beth April 17, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you, Wayne, for doing what you do for God and letting him further it as he desires. This was a wonderful post. Something stirred inside me as I read it.

  24. kent April 17, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    This post reminded me of a word today which then sent me to youtube to find the song. Michael’s introduction of Phil is pretty cool also. We are the artwork (our lives are a poem) of the ultimate artist.

    Poiema

  25. Beth April 17, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Thank you, Wayne, for doing what you do for God and letting him further it as he desires. This was a wonderful post. Something stirred inside me as I read it.

  26. kent April 17, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    This post reminded me of a word today which then sent me to youtube to find the song. Michael’s introduction of Phil is pretty cool also. We are the artwork (our lives are a poem) of the ultimate artist.

    Poiema

  27. Sabrah April 18, 2009 at 8:07 am

    You wrote the words I felt in my heart!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Love and Blessings,
    **~Sabrah~**

  28. Sabrah April 18, 2009 at 11:07 am

    You wrote the words I felt in my heart!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Love and Blessings,
    **~Sabrah~**

  29. nancy April 18, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Wow Wayne… thanks so much. I use to see you alot on the koinonia list and loved everything you wrote. I haven’t seen any of your writings for a long time. Jim Whede sent this to me. I was very blessed by it and will forward it to my many friends. Great insight! I too have had a dream for using my writing for God’s glory. My husband has been pushing me to get serious. I’ve been thinking it would be nice to somehow just find a way on the internet to write more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Love, Nancy

  30. nancy April 18, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Wow Wayne… thanks so much. I use to see you alot on the koinonia list and loved everything you wrote. I haven’t seen any of your writings for a long time. Jim Whede sent this to me. I was very blessed by it and will forward it to my many friends. Great insight! I too have had a dream for using my writing for God’s glory. My husband has been pushing me to get serious. I’ve been thinking it would be nice to somehow just find a way on the internet to write more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Love, Nancy

  31. Phil Hawkins April 19, 2009 at 8:38 am

    I had heard about Susan Boyle a few days before, but didn’t pull up and watch the video until I read your post. Then I showed it to my wife, and we watched together 3 or 4 times.

    I’ve always wanted to write, but never had the time. I started a blog a while back, but have been too busy to post consistently. I’m also working on a book on home repair, with the encouragement of an online friend I met commenting on blogs (I’ve made my living in home repair and remodeling for over 20 years). I will try to keep at it, as the Lord gives me things to say. Thanks for the encouragement, and I’ll be seeing you this weekend in Indianapolis.

    postmodern redneck

  32. Phil Hawkins April 19, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I had heard about Susan Boyle a few days before, but didn’t pull up and watch the video until I read your post. Then I showed it to my wife, and we watched together 3 or 4 times.

    I’ve always wanted to write, but never had the time. I started a blog a while back, but have been too busy to post consistently. I’m also working on a book on home repair, with the encouragement of an online friend I met commenting on blogs (I’ve made my living in home repair and remodeling for over 20 years). I will try to keep at it, as the Lord gives me things to say. Thanks for the encouragement, and I’ll be seeing you this weekend in Indianapolis.

    postmodern redneck

  33. Ken Harbour April 20, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    ” an audience of one” ~ that’s a nice phrase to hold on to. And again, “the stage didn’t validate.” Well said Wayne….well said.

  34. Ken Harbour April 20, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    ” an audience of one” ~ that’s a nice phrase to hold on to. And again, “the stage didn’t validate.” Well said Wayne….well said.

  35. kbcrazy April 21, 2009 at 7:26 am

    I lost my 21 year old daughter last Monday, still dont know why. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of her never coming to hang with me, laughing together and just plain enjoying the pleasure of her presence again. I try not to ask why her, she had so much ahead of her still. At her service I saw that she not only meant a lot to me but she touched so many others with her loving, caring, sensitive spirit. There is a reason somes dreams dont come true, we have purposes in our lives that we wont see until we get to heaven and have that “AHA” moment. We need to validate those around us because we all want someone to witness our lives and acknowledge us as a person. My heart has been breaking for not only myself, but every single one of those 200 or something people that came to pay their respects to my beautiful girl and to support her family that will miss her dearly. We are all going to miss her giving, caring spirit. Stefanie, my youngest baby, I love you so very much and I pray your life ending so shortly will bring glory to God and purpose to others hearts and lives. You are missed so much… bunches and loads of love to you! Momma

  36. Kathy April 21, 2009 at 8:23 am

    kbcrazy – I lost my precious 21 year old son 2 1/2 years ago – i understand your pain…somethings are so senseless here – i can’t wait to get to heaven to see him ago and get my whys answered.

    God’s richest blessings to you…

  37. kbcrazy April 21, 2009 at 10:26 am

    I lost my 21 year old daughter last Monday, still dont know why. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of her never coming to hang with me, laughing together and just plain enjoying the pleasure of her presence again. I try not to ask why her, she had so much ahead of her still. At her service I saw that she not only meant a lot to me but she touched so many others with her loving, caring, sensitive spirit. There is a reason somes dreams dont come true, we have purposes in our lives that we wont see until we get to heaven and have that “AHA” moment. We need to validate those around us because we all want someone to witness our lives and acknowledge us as a person. My heart has been breaking for not only myself, but every single one of those 200 or something people that came to pay their respects to my beautiful girl and to support her family that will miss her dearly. We are all going to miss her giving, caring spirit. Stefanie, my youngest baby, I love you so very much and I pray your life ending so shortly will bring glory to God and purpose to others hearts and lives. You are missed so much… bunches and loads of love to you! Momma

  38. Kathy April 21, 2009 at 11:23 am

    kbcrazy – I lost my precious 21 year old son 2 1/2 years ago – i understand your pain…somethings are so senseless here – i can’t wait to get to heaven to see him ago and get my whys answered.

    God’s richest blessings to you…

  39. Wayne April 22, 2009 at 8:49 am

    kbcrazy,
    I am so sorry over your daughter’s death, and can’t imagine all you’re going through at this moment. But I will be praying for you and all the others touched by her life and who will miss her greatly. Life can be incredibly cruel at times, but I pray you’ll know a grace far greater than the pain, that Jesus will walk with you through your grieving and save all the memories that take the sting out of them and only endear you to your daughter as places of great joy in the celebration of her life. Yes, this will take time, lots of time. But he will win this in your heart. Feel free to grieve with him as often as you need to. He understands this pain so well.

    Your brother,

    Wayne

  40. Wayne April 22, 2009 at 11:49 am

    kbcrazy,
    I am so sorry over your daughter’s death, and can’t imagine all you’re going through at this moment. But I will be praying for you and all the others touched by her life and who will miss her greatly. Life can be incredibly cruel at times, but I pray you’ll know a grace far greater than the pain, that Jesus will walk with you through your grieving and save all the memories that take the sting out of them and only endear you to your daughter as places of great joy in the celebration of her life. Yes, this will take time, lots of time. But he will win this in your heart. Feel free to grieve with him as often as you need to. He understands this pain so well.

    Your brother,

    Wayne

  41. Dave Mendoza September 9, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Excellent comment on an excellent performance. What I like about your style is that you see the “writing on the wall” and what the Lord wants to tell us through the things happening all around us.
    He’s not just talking through the Bible, but can even use a 47 year old housewife on TV to bring some point across. That’s what makes life so exciting: discovering the Big Picture piece by piece, and the deeper meaning of everything.
    Beautiful. Thanks!

  42. Dave Mendoza September 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Excellent comment on an excellent performance. What I like about your style is that you see the “writing on the wall” and what the Lord wants to tell us through the things happening all around us.
    He’s not just talking through the Bible, but can even use a 47 year old housewife on TV to bring some point across. That’s what makes life so exciting: discovering the Big Picture piece by piece, and the deeper meaning of everything.
    Beautiful. Thanks!

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