When the Undiscovered, the Underestimated and the Overlooked Have Their Day

Have you been watching America’s Got Talent? I love that show.

Maybe, just a little bit, because it makes me feel normal (that is, in comparison to some of the bizarro acts that appear briefly only to receive the big X judgment on their ability to play some body part or set themselves on fire or display or wiggle something that should never be displayed or wiggled before a national audience).

The other reason I like this show, though, is the joy of watching the unexpected, the undiscovered, the underestimated, and the overlooked find their moment in the spotlight. There’s nothing quite like it, is there?

When the boy you know is mocked by his peers hears Piers Morgan tell him “You’ve got a future, son.” Or when Howie Mandel tells the fat girl with the bad hair “You sing like an angel and you are going to go far.” Or when Sharon Osborne looks at the man in his seventies in the bad suit and hairpiece who you just know has been snickered at in other quarters and announces, “You’re going to Hollywood, mister!” Those moments transcend this life.

I really think when that happens it’s a glimpse of what heaven will be like when God starts handing out rewards.

Heavenly reward.

We don’t talk about that much in the Protestant church. Mostly because of all the murky business that made us part ways with the mother ship in the first place. We don’t want people to think we’re talking about earning our way into heaven because that ticket was purchased by Jesus and is appropriated by faith in Him alone.

But there are rewards to be had, loved ones.

Jesus says, in Revelation 22:12 NIV “”Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

In Matthew, there are countless reassurances that what we do in secret – our prayers, our fasting, our giving, our acts of kindness to the poor – these are all seen in Heaven and will be rewarded there.

We hesitate to talk about heavenly reward for many reasons. Chiefly, though, I think it’s hard for us to imagine what it will be like to be free of sin.

One day, we will no longer be plagued by envy or jealousy or greed so that when others receive their rewards – even if they are greater than our own – we will be free to rejoice with them! How amazing is that thought, right? How much imagination does it take to envision that?

God sees all.

He sees the headliners and He loves them, absolutely. But His eye is also on those who are faithful in obscurity: the unnoticed, the unsung, the unappreciated, the unpublished, the misunderstood, the unheralded, the unemployed. Those who preach to tiny congregations. Those who pray from the beds where they must remain. Those who teach Bible stories to countless children who grow up and forget their names. Those who show kindness and speak the truth to people in the next cubicle and the next. Those who labor for months in foreign fields to translate one single verse of scripture into an unwritten language. Those who sing to Him as they deliver mail or collect garbage on their morning routes or clean empty offices late into the night – working as to the Lord in all they do.

I think, scripture reveals, He even has a special heart for those who are considered least among men and women.

Gideon proclaimed “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:15)

King David was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons. When Samuel told him to gather his sons, he didn’t even call David in from the pasture until the Lord prompted Samuel to ask.

Even Jesus faced this type of prejudice as evidenced by this remark by Nathanael at the idea that the Messiah was found in John 1:46 46: “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.”

God loves to surprise and confound. Think how the mighty Egyptians must have wondered at the proclamation of the tiny band of Israelites seeking harbor in their midst that they were God’s chosen people!

One day, there will be a great parade of talent in heaven. And we will hear singers and preachers and evangelists and worshippers and faithful givers and faithful pray-ers and faithful workers and writers and artists and dancers and floor cleaners and garbage collectors and translators and teachers and mothers and fathers and we will exclaim “They are amazing but we have never heard of or seen these people before!”

And God will say – “But I have heard of them and I have seen them and that is enough.”

And it will be.

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