In recent days, an ordinary middle-aged woman by the name of Susan Boyle has captured the hearts of the world. Appearing onstage in Scotland to audition for the "Britain's Got Talent" television show, she stunned judges and audience alike. This decidedly unglamorous spinster moved many to tears as she sang "I Dreamed A Dream" from the musical Les Miserables. The singer and the song were a perfect match, especially as we learned more about her.
Susan's own dream had to wait. The youngest of nine children, injured at birth with oxygen deprivation, she endured scorn and bullying from schoolmates. She generously claims that they are now her friends. Her parents didn't want her to have boyfriends, and she didn't rebel. With a touch of chagrin, she admits she has never been kissed. She cared for her mother until her death at the age of 91 two years ago. But, her mother did make her promise to pursue the dream of singing for a large audience which Susan has desired since she was twelve years old. From singing in her village church, Susan now looks forward to the possibility of singing for Britain's Queen Elizabeth. Millions around the world have heard her, already, via internet videos on YouTube. And, everyone simply loves her.
It's as if God has kept her waiting in the wings for such a time as this.
Somewhere I read that Shirley Temple came along in the dark days of the Great Depression just when the world needed a ray of sunshine and hope. I am struck that Susan Boyle could be bringing a similar bright spot to our own world-in-turmoil. Blogs blossom across the internet, people telling of the impact this obscure woman has had on them. Many other ordinary souls find encouragement to revive their own buried dreams. And, in the wake of suggestions that Susan needs a "makeover" so she can look the part of a beautiful singer, most are adamant: let her be who she is! Her inner beauty isn't measured by the youthful Barbie-doll mannequins that seem to be the standard of popularity. It's the difference between superficial artificiality and the genuine article. This woman is her own unique self and nobody should try to squeeze her into the world's mold.
For those of us who lived through the "Now" generation, this is a refreshing reminder of some old-fashioned bromides, such as "good things come to those who wait." Or, as Elizabeth Barrett Browning observed, "God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame."
Waiting is tough, no doubt about it. If we're helpless to do anything to change a given situation, it's as if we're stuck at midnight, waiting and watching for dawn. The wait can be even harder if some power to make things happen lies in our own hands. Should we pursue our dream, if it means others will be hurt or neglected? Or, waiting on the Lord, putting first things first, will our sacrifice make the result of waiting that much sweeter?
Some of the internet bloggers express their sorrow that the world has been denied years of opportunity to hear this woman sing. I disagree. We might have heard only a watered-down version, lost in the crowd of other singers. God's timing means for Susan (and for the rest of us to experience) a bright burst of brilliance rippling around the world by way of technology that wasn't available when her dream began.
When the time is right, we know it. With preparation complete, the door swings open. "In the fullness of time," we read, the Messiah suddenly appeared on the stage of history, catching everyone's attention. Everything He did fit into a pre-ordained time schedule, according to God's will. He didn't deviate to right or left, He didn't lag behind or run ahead. He remained in the center of God's will.
Our Creator designed us and has placed desires in our hearts. As Redeemer, He has ransomed us from enemy territory and brought us home to the sheepfold, the center where new life begins. And, as Comforter, He stills our hearts as we wait for His will to unfold in our lives, too. Hidden with Christ Jesus in God our Father, listening for that still small Voice, is the only place to be.
"Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:30-31
"The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD, they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bring forth fruit in old age, they are ever full of sap and green, to show that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him." Psalm 92:12-15 (RSV)
I don't know why I didn't see this article before but I'm so glad you brought it to our attention now. Even though Susan didn't win tonight, she has made an impact on the world that few have ever done. Over 100 million people have visited her 2 Youtube performances which is far more attention than anyone else has ever received. I pray that whatever is ahead for Susan that she will listen to the voice of God and follow His leading. Her gift is beyond description and can bring great glory to God and encouragement to a waiting world.
Dear Friend, This is such a wonderfully encouraging article about understanding God's timing. I don't think a youthful Susan would be nearly so inspiring as she is at her present age. And this is truly a time when we need inspiration. I think, too, that Susan's voice now is partly a product of her sacrificial nature and emotion in caring for her mom. Thank you for this excellent piece.