Unique opportunities tend to come when least expected. We never know when a proverbial door will be opened, and often, the door that opens is one we didn’t even know existed. I used to be somewhat cautious, but in recent years, I have learned to take risks, step out of my comfort zone and embrace the thrill of the unknown. When a unique experience is presented to me, I now tend to seize the opportunity, embark on an adventure and see what unfolds. I’m rarely disappointed.
The week of Christmas, I received a rather peculiar email. Some girl named Kelly – a girl I don’t know – sent an email blast to a listserv I am apparently still on from a church I used to attend five years ago. The email was an invitation to be a part of the Passion 2016 Choir. According to the email, Kelly’s friend was involved in leading the Passion Choir, and they needed more volunteers to sing.
For anyone not familiar with Passion, it is a three day Christian conference for young adults ages 18-25. It’s a huge event, hosting top Christian bands like David Crowder and Hillsong United, as well as world renowned speakers and theologians like John Piper and Ravi Zacharias. This year, the event attracted 40,000 students and was held at three different stadiums across two different cities in the US.
I was off work for the holidays and didn’t have plans January 2-4, so I emailed the director of the Passion Choir at the email address provided by Kelly. When the director, Alisa, replied to me, she said that choir volunteers were by referral only, so she asked who referred me. I gave her Kelly’s name, and Alisa immediately sent me a private link to an online application.
A week later, I entered our city’s basketball arena for a five hour rehearsal with about 70 other talented Christian vocalists, and it was like being back in All-State Choir. Singing with the best – more than that, talented vocalists with a passion and inner fire – is otherworldly. It’s like a glimpse of heaven on earth. Possibly even more fun than singing with the Passion Choir, though, was getting to be a part of the choir’s community group.
Alisa led us in bible studies and reflection times between rehearsals and performance sessions, and because most vocalists are dreamers and artsy types, the focus of our special behind-the-scenes study was on discovering our passions and living out our dreams. Only, Alisa didn’t take the study the direction I expected. I expected a cliché pep talk about how I’m special and blah blah blah. But Alisa lovingly challenged our individual visions of what our futures could or should be like.
She started by reading Ephesians 4:7-16 and explaining that there is a supernatural gifting from God within each of us. But God gives the gifts. God chooses the gifts. There are good works predestined for me to do (Eph. 2:10), but good works aren’t up for grabs. If someone else is living out my dream or doing what I believe I have been uniquely created to do, I need to kill the jealousy inside of me. If someone else was given a certain role, he or she was assigned it in eternity past. Callings are not about us; they are a gift from God, and He chooses our gifts and callings!
Alisa went on to encourage us to know, accept and use our unique giftings for God’s glory. It’s God’s job to choose the gifts and callings; it’s my job to walk in the opportunities given to me. To identify our callings, Alisa wisely suggested we consider: What have I suffered? So often our misery becomes our ministry. What are my passions? What talents has my community affirmed in me?
Ultimately, Alisa reminded us that there is a race marked out for each of us to run (Heb. 12:1-3). It’s God’s role to mark out my race; He sets the path. Though our culture would tell us otherwise, we don’t create our dreams; they are given to us. God wove them into the fabric of our being when He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Ps. 139).
My responsibility is not to choose my anointing. My responsibility is to run with perseverance the race marked out for me, for my good and God’s glory!