Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No Regrets

It was on YouTube, and I almost didn’t click on the Facebook link. I ended up watching it at least five times.

It was a video of a little old lady who was 80 years old, and she was trying out for Simon Cowell’s TV show, “Britain’s Got Talent”. A singing competition filled with young up-and-comers, it wasn’t a place you’d expect to see her. But Janey Cutler had been a mother to 7, grandmother to 13, and great-grandmother to 4. Not much was daunting to her after that!

janey Cutler

Escorted to the stage by one of the hosts, her feet shuffled slowly. No one knew quite what to make of her. When asked why she was trying out, she replied: “I like singing. And my friends said, ‘Janie, go for it. Better late than never, dear!’”

Her song choice? Appropriately enough, it was “No Regrets.” I think that’s how Janey has lived her life. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAwOZvvGsRs)

The audience roared to their feet as this stooped-shoulder senior citizen belted out an incredibly powerful rendition. No one expected that kind of voice to come out of her! The crowd went crazy, roaring their approval and demanding that the judges pass her on to the next round.

Obviously touched, two of the judges quickly gave a heartfelt “yes”. But the real test came when it was Simon’s turn. He isn’t known for sentimentality, or even simple kindness. His feedback was most often cutting and derogatory.

“How many years have you waited to do that?” Simon asked her.

Janey’s response? “I’m just thankful to be here tonight.”

Even he couldn’t say no to her! “3,003 yeses!” He declared.

She seemed stunned, as if she never really believed in her own dream. Shocked, but also grateful.

Planted in the deepest layers of our heart, each of us has a dream too. Occasionally we pull it out and dust it off, fondly marveling at how wonderful it is. But we never really believe it could happen, so we gently, reverently, and sadly tuck it away.

Why do we do that? God is the biggest believer in our dreams, for He is the one who places them within us. Sometimes that dream may simmer on the back burner of the mind for a long time: dormant and unexamined, but quietly persisting. Hidden and ignored, it endures. Because if it is a dream from God, it will not go away. No matter how much we tell ourselves that “it could never happen”, some part of us recognizes that the greatest failure in never trying. It is the unpursued dream that causes the most regret. Settling for less is unacceptable, because the “what if’s” are haunting.

It may take a while for the dream to be realized, because the best ones are God-sized, and He has been known to take His time. Even Abraham had to wait 25 years until the promise that he would have a son was fulfilled! (Genesis 21:5) But God loves to fulfill that which He has promised, and if we relentlessly pursue what He has placed in our heart, the waiting only increases our gratitude when the dream is fulfilled.

Janey Cutler could have talked herself out of going for it on “Britain’s Got Talent.” Most 80-year-olds would have. Rejection stings. Instead, she chose to follow her dream, resulting in the joy of hearing “3,003 yeses!” She went on to tour with the other finalists of the show, and even recorded an album. I’m betting she died with few regrets.

I want to live seeking God’s dreams for me.

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?                 Numbers 23:18-19

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.                                                                       Romans 5:5

Further reflection:

1. Is there a dream, hidden deep within your heart, that won’t let go of you?

2. What holds you back from pursuing that dream?

3. Spend some time with Jesus, asking Him if this is His dream for you. If it is, then go after it!

Father, You are the dream-giver. You have placed things in my heart that, apart from You, I cannot possibly do. It is too big. Too hard. Too impossible. But I know that if You are in it, my biggest regret will be in not even trying. So I offer to You my yearning, my hopes, my dreams. Do with them what You will, only let me follow You.

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