I think we can all (or most) agree that The Greatest Showman is one of the best and most uplifting films in recent years, particularly it’s soundtrack. It’s encouraging, creative, full of anthems, and a powerful story of redemption. On the surface, you may not be able to see Jesus and His story of grace, but it’s tucked away, not so discreetly, in the film’s storyline whether the writers meant it to be or not.
I have spent all of 2018 listening to this soundtrack on repeat. I sing it loudly in the car, in the parking lot with my headphones on (God bless anyone who heard me!), during road trips, while doing chores around the house and to inspire me in a workout. During today’s battle on the elliptical machine, as I was listening to each song, it had a profound effect on me.
It’s been a while since I’ve chosen the soundtrack for a workout and it was as if I was hearing it all for the first time. I could see God through every song that played and wanted to share a little bit of that with you today. My prayer is that it will encourage you to live boldly for Christ the way He’s called you to live, not the way they want or expect you to.
Let’s start with the song Never Enough.
“All the shine of a thousand spotlights
All the stars we steal from the night sky
Will never be enough
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it’ll
Never be enough”
This is an incredible example of the faith that we put in our idols and the false promises of this world. I will be the first to admit that in the past I’ve majorly struggled with putting things before God. Beauty, fashion, money, relationships with friends or loved ones, vacations, busyness, self, coffee, wine and my job are just few examples I can quickly name that I was placing before God in my heart. I served them all daily. They got my best and He got my worst or nothing at all.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. Psalm 115:4-8
Last Fall I did Kelly Minter’s No Other God’s Bible Study and it completely wrecked my world in the best way. You see on the surface it would appear I was doing everything right. I was going to church, in community with other believers, involved in ministry, taking care of my family, and working really hard at my career but it all left me feeling so empty.
You see I was expecting these things or people (IDOLS!) to fulfill me in a way that only Christ can. Jesus is the only person who has ever been perfect and He will remain this way for all of eternity. My husband and kids, while wonderful, were never created to make me whole. They are gifts God gave me, but not the gift. A relationship with God, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, is the ultimate gift given to make me whole for His glory.
During this study, I became the Prodigal Son (daughter) returning to the Creator, my Father in Heaven. This brings me to my next Great Showman song reference, From Now On. Take a second to read Luke 15:11-24 and then the lyrics directly below. See if any of this sounds similar to you too.
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 5:11-24
I mean, WOW! Do you see it?! Do you see how The Greatest Showman was also the Prodigal Son? He’d been given gifts and squandered them because He started caring about what everyone else thought and began serving them (money, fame, public opinion, social standing, lust, etc.) with his life. He became LOST and as a result, almost lost everything that had initially inspired him to begin with! His wife and children, while hurt, angry, and jealous listened to his apology (repentance!) and chose to offer him GRACE. The easiest choice is not grace, walking out forgiveness is much more difficult, but it’s the one she chose. She welcomed him back with open arms, the way the Father did for the prodigal son and the way God did for me.
For those of you who have only known me in recent years, let me be the first to tell you I am not perfect. I have a very colorful history. I accepted Christ into my heart at 3 years old but that does not mean it has been pretty. My sin from my past continues to cause struggles in my most treasured relationships regularly because Satan knows just where to get me. The great deceptor knows all the lies to tell me to make me believe I have not been redeemed.
BUT GOD. I have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection. And if you’ve accepted Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior, you have too. You are a child of God, forgiven for your sins, so run away from Satan’s lies of defeat, shame, and guilt and into Your Heavenly Father’s open arms.
Matthew 5:14-16 says, 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
As a follower of Christ, God has called you to shine His light in a world filled with darkness. I don’t think I need to go to deep to convince you that Earth today is a dark place. You can watch or read the news for all of 30 seconds and long for a better place to call home. This is your temporary home designed to make you long for your eternal home in Heaven.
The Earth was not made to please you. Your life on this planet is the time you’ve been given to tell others about the love of Christ. Nothing more or nothing less. Stop seeking comfort, it’s not supposed to be comfortable. He didn’t call us to live sparkly, cushy lives that look just like everyone else’s. He has called us to SO much more.
It doesn’t have to be big. It’s just loving people the way Jesus would. Giving gifts, serving others, bringing meals, loving them even when it’s difficult, without expecting or asking for anything in return. It can be SO simple. But if we are only interested in serving ourselves, we quickly start looking around for ways they’ve served us back and can be so disappointed at the balance. The balance is not what it’s about! The gift of grace is unbalanced.
An easy example, is by sharing love on social media. It can be a dark place these days, a thief of our joy because of comparison. Each day I intentionally share a little light. I comment and send messages to random people all the time and encourage them in what they’re doing. I see them and I want them to know God seems them too. Instead of seeing their gifts and talents as a creative, wife, mom, or friend and being jealous, I want them to know how awesome I think they are! And instead of worrying that I’m being a creeper, I do it anyway! Because who knows, maybe I’m the only one who patted them on the back that day and they needed to hear it.
Another example is giving generously in any way that you can. Your money is not your own. It’s a gift from God and we are to be good stewards of it. I am bad at a lot of things, but I think one of my husband and I’s best qualities is our ability to be generous. We would both give the shirt off our back if it helped someone out and wouldn’t spend another second thinking about it after our shirt was gone. It wasn’t ours to begin with. This will make people uncomfortable because it is unusual and they don’t know how to receive gifts this way.
Last year during a Lilly Pulitzer phase, I ordered an adorable winter white and gold puffer vest on final sale during their huge annual sale. I am obsessed with vests because they are perfect for the South, and before it had even arrived at my home I had created 20 different ways I could wear it with my wardrobe. And then it came. Slightly too small but still wearable, and I realized in that moment, it was not meant for me, but for my best friend on her 30th birthday.
You see she is always cold, teeny tiny, and is so selfless she never buys nice things for herself. I am the opposite- I tend to take care of myself a little too much. She was about to leave on an incredible trip and I knew she’d be freezing without it. So the next morning, I wrapped it in a bag and gave it to her along with a birthday card. I could tell I made her uncomfortable. She did not want to keep it because in her mind it was too nice of gift and would surely come with expectations. But it didn’t so she accepted.
Yesterday, she wore this vest and it made my heart soar. The vest was a great reminder that we don’t have to wait for crazy, big things, to bring Him glory. It was a way that the Holy Spirit had allowed me to care for my friend. He prompted me to make the sacrifice and I listened.
This beautiful vest is just one example, but regularly following the Holy Spirit’s promptings has delivered my greatest gifts in life. They’re uncomfortable, usually don’t make sense at the time, but He had a plan. And the more I faithfully follow His call no matter how big or seemingly meaningful, the more He uses me.
The next song, is a huge anthem and another reminder to not be scared of standing out. As I’ve already mentioned, you were created in His image (Genesis 1:27) and designed to be different. Do not hide in the corner fearful of standing out in the crowd (neighborhood, workplace, school, community, etc.). Do not let your choices be directed by what they think you should do but rather what God has called you to do.
Ya’ll, Satan told me so many lies for years. When I was worshipping my idols instead of God the Father, my inner thoughts from Satan said, I’m a terrible wife, mom, and if they (you guys!) only knew who I really am, you’d never be my friend. These lies made me feel so broken and ashamed and worst of all made me feel I couldn’t speak them out loud.
Isaiah 46:2-4 says, “ The gods cower; they crouch together; they are not able to rescue the burden, but they themselves go into captivity. “Listen to me, house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been sustained from the womb, carried along since birth. I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and rescue you.
When we expect our idols to sustain us, they cower and are completely unqualified or able to remove the burden. Only God can. He made you and is the only one who can rescue you. Once you’ve really set aside your idols, and start living for Christ, a really powerful and freeing thing happens. You stop caring what everyone else thinks and start caring about what He thinks and what He’s asking you to do.
I can sound like a complete idiot on social media to 99% of my followers and I don’t care. I only care about the 1 who was supposed to hear or read it. Because I feel the freedom in Christ in me, I do it. If I’m “too much” for the 99, it wasn’t meant for them, so it doesn’t (and shouldn’t!) matter.
Do not care what those people think. You know who I’m talking about. The ones who make you doubt yourself or encourage you stay outside the Biblical parameters. The truth is in the Word and your Biblical calling is only between you and God. Nobody else. Do not let their judgement steal your joy. It could mean you were doing something right. Noah probably seemed pretty crazy to his friends, but he built the ark anyway because God told him to.
Stand tall and build your ark. Love others in the Biblical way God has called you to do. Use your voice, your resources, talent, time, whatever it may be, and sacrifice it for the one true God. Because here’s the thing, He doesn’t need us. It’s a gift and honor to be chosen by Him. If you harden your heart and stop listening because you don’t want to be seen, He will go find someone else to execute His plan. Don’t rob yourself of the joy that is following His path.
Remember this and be brave; take it to heart you transgressors! Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and no one is like me. I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: my plan will take place, and I will do all my will. Isaiah 46:8-10
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
He has charged us with the task of telling others about Him. It’s not simple or planned. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes it doesn’t make sense. A year ago I left a career I loved behind because God told me to lay it on His alter. He had something different for me.
I was terrified of giving up this income and the sacrifices that would come because of it. I already told you, I like pretty things. I thought this meant I would have to give up all the things I love and enjoyed providing for our family. Travel, date nights, the best clothes for my kids, the season’s newest booties and large gifts to the ministries I believed in.
BUT God, ya’ll. This is not the prosperity gospel. We are not millionaires. We didn’t suddenly become rich and start buying yachts. But He has given me the most radical year because of my faithfulness.
I thought I was just giving up material goods but I was also surrendering something that took up 98% of my mental and emotional energy. I was so heads down in work and taking care of my clients I couldn’t see anything else. Much less those around me who needed me or other ways to serve well.
He has sparked so many new interests, hobbies, and passions and given me incredible community that I had been longing for almost a decade in Charlotte. When I surrendered what I loved, it gave Him room to work and transform.
It’s a verse, you’re told to memorize as a new believer, but to see it in real life is wild. To see God truly transform you into this person that’s completely unrecognizable from 1 year ago, it’s a miracle. A true, living miracle. It sounds simple, but it’s so far from and oh, so good.
Don’t settle. Don’t do what’s expected of you in the American Dream. It will let you down because nothing about it is Biblical. Nowhere in the Bible does it say if we follow all the rules, do everything right, are a nice person, that we’ll end up with a white picket fence and everything will go our way.
It’s an empty and false promise.To the Great Unknown with the one who numbered the hairs on your head (Luke 12:7), there is no greater place to be. So follow Him, He will show you the way and you may see your very own miracle.
I keep feeling like I need to emphasize that I’m not perfect in case you’re telling yourself you can’t do this. You do not have to be perfect to tell people about Jesus. He is the perfect one, not you. He used the greatest sinner and persecutor (and killer) of Christians, transformed his life, and then he wrote 13 of books in the New Testament. He was Saul and then he became Paul. Because of a guy named Jesus. If Saul can be chosen by Jesus to tell His story, so can you.
With God, you can change your story. I’ve raced down the wrong path more times than I care to admit, but He finds a way to pull me back. So don’t be scared to rewrite your stars, run towards your God given call, and see your redemption story. He’ll be waiting with open arms to carry you through.