From birth every person is endowed with special God given gifts that are meant to be employed in serving Him and others. (Paraphrase – Romans 12:6 & 1 Peter 4:10)
A homeless man from Columbus, Ohio, became an overnight sensation this week when a YouTube video of him went viral. He is 53 year old Ted Williams who has been living on the street for 17 years. He was video taped by a news paper reporter as he stood at a freeway access holding a sign that read:
“I have a God given gift of voice. I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be greatfully (sp) appreciated J Thank you and God bless you. Happy Holidays.”
Before this video hundreds of people drove by him every day but never took his gift seriously. “I drive by this guy every day. . . my mind is blown. . . I’ve seen this guy!” one person writes. Another said “I saw him on the corner two weeks ago! . . . but I was scared . . . lol . . .should have stopped.” Needless to say he is no longer on that corner. Yesterday he was in New York City announcing the intro to NBC’s Today program and being interviewed by their entire crew. Job offers are flooding in.
This feel-good story of the year is full of lessons and illustrations. It is literally a rags to riches story. It is a story of faith and second-chance redemption. It is a story of reconciliation. It gives us insight into the plight of the homeless. It teaches us again, so poignantly, that we cannot judge a person by appearances. It underscores the destructiveness of drug and alcohol addiction. We can learn a lot from this story.
But what impacts me most about this turn-around story is the release of a God-given gift. In reality, Ted’s redemption happened because he came to a reckoning with God about the talent he had been given.
He recognized what a gift he had, acknowledged God as the giver and sought to re-engage it in serving humanity.
Sadly his 17 year downward spiral is symptomatic of so many people when it comes to the talent(s) that have been to given us. His God-given gift was imprisoned in a self-destructive lifestyle. Ted Williams and too many others are like the one-talent guy in Jesus’ parable who end up burying their talents because of misbeliefs and messed up thinking.
When interviewed yesterday on NBC’s Today Ted gave thanks to God for retaining his golden voice despite his abusive alcohol and crack use. “I always said, ‘God, you’ve never seen fit to take my voice in spite of all the flames and everything that went down my throat (crack & alcohol).’ . . . This time around I have God in my life, acknowledging Him on a daily basis. In 2010 I found a new spirituality, not a born again type person. I didn’t acknowledge the Lord or thank Him for everything…. Never said ‘Oh Lord thank you for this.’ Or ‘Thank you for another day.’ or ‘forgive me for this.’ But this time around I am acknowledging Him in all my ways.”
This story should motivate every one of us to have a reckoning with God about the talent we’ve been given. Just like Ted we need to recognize our gift(s), acknowledge God as the giver and seek with all our heart to engage it in serving Him and humanity. I want to invite you to pray this prayer.“Lord I want to thank you for the gift(s) of ________________ that you have given me. I ask you to forgive me for not using my gift as I should in serving you and others. Please open doors and show me how to best employ it. I now purpose, with your help, to use my gift(s) for Your glory.”
Do you have any insights you can share about using the gift(s) God has given you?
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