Fame? Not so much.
Fabulous wealth? Nope.
Musical ability? Definitely not.
So what could this obscure mid-30’s stay-at-home-mom possibly have in common with a young superstar celebrity musician?
A week ago, I would have thought that there was literally nothing I could have in common with someone like Justin Bieber. Well...maybe just our shared humanity. But other than that I couldn’t have imagined someone more different from myself.
And then randomly I saw an article on my homepage that caught my attention. I was supposed to be creating a google form survey for my virtual book club...but I’m not immune to occasionally getting distracted by enticing (usually time-wasting and procrastination-boosting) articles.
The title of the article is The Redemption of Justin Bieber (you can check it out here).
As a Catholic, I’m pretty interested in redemption, so my interest was piqued.
Now, I have to admit to not caring in the least for celebrity gossip. I usually never have any idea what’s going on in the rarefied air of the rich and famous. It just doesn’t have any bearing on my day-to-day life--and besides, if I’m going to waste my time on my phone, it's probably going to be by looking at houses on Zillow.
So truly the last thing I remember reading or hearing about Justin Bieber was that his life was following the tragic trajectory of most former child-stars: he was self-destructing and going off the rails in every way you could imagine.
But the title said “redemption”. And the subtitle clarified that he was “fortified by God” and “marriage” (as well as a new album, which admittedly I care much less about than the first two things ;).
So I read on to discover a deeply moving story of a soul touched by God.
It was the story of conversion that so many of us experience in a very similar way: We make terrible mistakes. We feel empty, lost, and abandoned. Then God sweeps in with his love and mercy and forgiveness--and we’re changed.
So yes, I have that in common with Justin Bieber (if not on the same scale, or quite so publicly). But that didn’t really surprise me because that conversion experience is common to almost everyone who has one.
What really struck me, what left me saying, “You too!?” was how Justin went on to talk about when he finally reached the end of his own abilities, when he stopped running and striving and trying to do everything his own way, how he just asked God what he wanted him to do.
In his words:
“I came to a place where I just was like, ‘God, if you’re real, I need you to help me, because I can’t do this on my own. Like, I’m struggling so hard. Every decision I make is out of my own selfish ego.’ So I’m just like, ‘What is it that you want from me? You put all these desires in my heart for me to sing and perform and to make music—where are these coming from? Why is this in my heart? What do you want me to do with it? What’s the point? What is the point of everything? What is the point of me being on this planet?’ ”
I sat stunned for a minute after I read that. Because I had a very similar conversation with God not very long ago myself. (Well, except that the desires that God put in my heart weren’t about singing, performing, or making music.)
But I had been chasing one achievement after another, struggling along in what I thought God’s will was for my life--when I just hit a wall. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to try anymore. Everything I was striving for on my own and trying to do based on my own will was failing (or had already failed).
I was finally humbled enough to ask God what he wanted me to do.
And just as he did with Justin Bieber, God answered.
Not in words exactly, but in a sudden peace, a “peace that surpasses all understanding.” I didn’t have a perfect blueprint for exactly how I should spend the rest of my life--but I could see a next step that was crystal-clear. And beyond that, I knew with certainty that I could trust God with the rest. That all I had to do was take the next step. And then the next. And then the next one after that.
I also came to realize that God has a mission for each and every one of us--some task, some purpose that you--specifically you--are meant to accomplish. I used to think, “Yeah, sure, God loves me--just like everyone else.” Or, “Yeah, sure, I have a mission--just like everyone else.”
But what I’ve come to realize is that the kind of relationship that God wants to have with us is completely unique to us--it's not “just like everyone else”--it’s special and unrepeatable in all the world--just like you are.
Except...that relationship is never passive nor stagnant. Once we open ourselves up to that relationship with God, it’s like he says, “Great...now I have a job for you. Let’s get to work.” And then we’re sent on mission. We’re meant to do something with all the gifts, talents, and desires that God has given us.
Could God do it without us? Of course, he’s God, he doesn’t, strictly speaking, need us to do anything. But in his great love for us, he gives us the tremendous opportunity to work alongside him. He has bestowed such dignity on us that he allows us to be co-workers with him--and then he multiplies and magnifies our puny efforts and makes them something that resound in eternity.
I actually have one other thing in common with Justin Bieber. According to the GQ article that I read, he also is very “careful now about his time, his routine, his schedule.” Yes! As we should all be!
You see, once we realize that this life is meant to be a mission, that we are uniquely called by God to do his will, then our time becomes very valuable. (Well, it always was, we just may not have realized it before.) We literally don’t have time to waste. You are meant to do something for God today.
And the only way to be sure that you have: 1) The mental clarity to actually “hear” God telling you what that thing is and 2) The time in your schedule to make it happen, is if you have figured out how to prioritize your daily tasks and have developed your own solid routines and habits.
Discerning how God is calling you to use your unique talents and abilities, as well as how to create your own schedules and life-giving routines, are all things that I cover extensively in my course, Time to Thrive: Find Purpose, Rekindle Your Passions, Maximize Your Time, and Create a Life You Love. Check it out if you’re interested in learning more :).
So, what are your experiences? I’d love to hear in the comments below how God is moving you to take action in your life.
And don’t forget, Jesus said:
“Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find.”
So don’t be afraid to open the door to God’s grace in your life by just asking the question, “Lord, what do you want me to do (today)?”