By Nancy Virden (c)2020
Grace Vanderwaal is fourteen years old and already a star.
AGT (America’s Got Talent), a televised contest, is loaded with hopeful people from around the world doing their best to impress. Few of thousands rise to top levels.
Howie Mandel, one of the judges, warns musicians to stick to popular songs to keep the audience engaged. He is right in the sense that contestants performing originals rarely get far. There are exceptions.
Two years ago, a petite twelve-year-old Grace entered the stage carrying her ukelele. I did not expect much due to her choice of instrument. Then she announced she would be singing an original.
Anyone who regularly watches AGT knows to hold off judgment. Secret talents, hidden under improbable outward appearances are a regular feature of the show. I must admit though, the combination of a ukelele and an original song had me skeptical.
Then, she performed. Applause exploded as thousands of audience members rose to their feet cheering. Grace was adorable, but her new song was the hit of the evening. Now she travels the world showcasing her talents. Ukelele sales have skyrocketed.
A New Song
Old refrains may tell us we cannot get out of the mess we are in, life hurts too much, we will never know love, and this is the end of hope. During my most despairing times, my song was negative. Change can never happen. Joy is gone for good. I believed it!
I turned to the Master Musician anyway for a fresh melody. My new songs were short, carried the flattened tune of depression, were sung privately most often in my head under the covers, and yet an audience of one sang with me.
The lyrics went something like this:
I cannot do this, if you want me alive you will have to do it.
I want you alive (Jesus sings very quietly)
Why cannot I come home to you? Why are you keeping me here?
My purposes are good
I’ll obey what you tell me, but just so you know, I do not want to.
Please take me. But if you won’t, let my life honor you.
Here is the strength you need for this moment
Thank you. I do not understand, but thank you.
I am near.
Will you turn this disaster into a blessing somehow?
Here is your next step. One at a time.
Praise you, Lord, in brokenness I praise you.
I am near.
Just keep walking one day at a time.
Eventually, my voice grew strong and filled with joy. It was not quick, but now I stand as a living testimony to what only God can do. Today our duet is more like:
I praise you
I love you
I trust you
I carry you
I love you
Here is the joy I promised. Here is your purpose; I will help.
Maybe your old and familiar lyrics rob you of hope. Sing an original anyway to your biggest fan. He hears your heart and responds; listen to what Jesus sings over you.
Today’s Helpful Word
Psalm 42:2-4 (NLT)
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright (c) 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.., Carlo Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved