Do you have gifts and talents that you underestimate? The answer is: Yes, you do. We all do. We typically don’t recognize or understand our most powerful talents on our own, we need to hear from friends and family. In fact, it is unlikely we’ll ever understand our calling or purpose without the advice and counsel from people who are close around us. But we get glimpses, and for me that often comes through music or movies.
Cyndi and I often watch a movie in the evening while working on stuff (like family finances, writing the next book, managing a mobile home park, running a yoga studio, etc.) We tend to pick movies we’ve seen many times so we can follow along without being distracted by a story we don’t already know. And much to nephew Kevin’s dismay, when he is with us, as he often is, we typically choose non-exploding non-fighting movies.
This week we watched August Rush again. I’ve now seen this movie many times since my first viewing at a Wild at Heart Advanced Camp in May 2008, where it changed almost everything about my life, so I didn’t expect it to affect me in the same way as it has in the past. I supposed I’d built up some immunity.
I was wrong. The movie nailed me, once again, and I had to go sit by myself in my closet (I have a rocking chair in there) and absorb the message. Specifically, I internalized what God was saying to me before I let it get away.
There are a lot of movies that dig emotional responses out of me - no, that’s too weak a statement - there a lot of movies that make me cry. And each year the list of movies gets longer, either because I’m better at picking out movies, or because I’m getting softer. August Rush is one of those; it slips past the bare patch of my armored chest like Bard’s black arrow and sticks directly into my heart.
The movie is about a young orphaned boy named August Rush, a musical prodigy, who uses music to reach out to the parents he hopes to find. Only, when I watch it, it isn’t about music, but about writing and teaching.
In the movie, when a man asks August, “What do you want to be?” he answers with one word, “Found.” Not being lost is profound, and watching this movie helps me realize it’s my job to find people and lead them on the trail so they won’t be lost.
But the scene that penetrates my armor is when the head of a music conservatory asks young August, “Where does the music come from?” He answers, “It’s like someone is calling out to me. Writing it all down is like I’m calling back to them.” This is exactly what writing feels like to me.
Wednesday night after the movie finished I sat in my rocking chair with tears rolling down my cheeks, praying, again, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how big it is.”
“I’m sorry I continually underestimate what You’ve given to me. Because I don’t speak to big crowds or sell tons of books or have thousands of readers I underestimate the gift, and the result. Thank You for giving me so many turns, Thank You for lighting the fire inside to teach and write and give away and improve. Thank you for sharing insights and connections. I want to give them back to You.”
Here’s the thing. None of us understands our own influence. None of us knows how big it is because we don’t pay attention to the same things God pays attention to. We don’t notice the same results God sees. We don’t see hearts the same way God does – we are stuck in this present day and God sees the long-term benefit. All we can know is that we aren’t the heroes of our own stories, no matter how big. The heroes are the people who respond, who stand up and step forward, and we are simply lucky to be part of that.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32