The X Factor

Published September 27, 2011 by joypatton

It’s the reason I never pursued acting as a career.  It’s the uncontrollable part of the equation that you can’t predict or try harder to get.  I couldn’t imagine going to auditions knowing that even if I was the best trained and best rehearsed actress and nailed every line, I wouldn’t get the part if I was taller than the leading man or if they wanted someone with brown hair instead of blonde.  It was simply too unpredictable, so I stopped playing the game and went into English education.  Much more predictable.  A field that rewarded knowledge and training.  Things I had a lot of control over.  My classroom became my stage and my kingdom where I could play and win.

However now I find myself in the game again.  And I know I’m not alone.  With a husband who works in the entertainment industry, I see behind the scenes every day.  Bands that practice really hard, write really good songs and play a great live show, but can’t get booked on a tour.  Songwriters and singers that work hard every day at their craft, hoping that something will hit it big with radio.  Right now I’m an author with a great idea for a book, but the publishers have passed saying “It’s just not the right fit.”  And we all try harder, work more, blog more, tweet more, learn more.  But in reality we are waiting for the X to fall into place.

When you’re an artist and a Christian, the X factor is God.  We must not forget that ultimately it is God’s favor that breaks a band big or gets the hit song or sells the great book.  God is the One who makes great artists and inspires them.  He is the Creator, the One who made us to create.  Sometimes I wonder why God’s favor seems to be on everyone else and not me.  Why am I sitting and waiting while someone else is rising and going?  When will it be my turn to go? Yes, I am the whining Orphan who forgets that God is big enough and powerful enough to accomplish His purposes.

And what exactly are His purposes?  Do great tours, number one songs and best sellers mean success to Him?  For some people, success is the thing He uses to bring them crashing down to the end of themselves and ultimately to Himself.  For others, the lack of success is the thing that brings them to the end of themselves and ultimately closer and more dependent on God than they have ever been.  The thing is that I don’t get to pick which one; God does.  If I don’t find the kind of success I was looking for, does that mean I missed God?  Does it mean that I have missed the calling?  Does it mean I should quit and go find a more predictable job where the outcome seems easier to control?

I have come to see living my dream as an author and Bible teacher as my parallel to being in the Promised Land.  It’s the place God has been leading me to and preparing me for.  I was recently reading in Deuteronomy 2 where the Israelites were finally entering the Promised Land.  As they entered, God guided them through each section and told them what to do.  Several times, the Lord says, “Do not harass or contend with them, for I will not give you their land as your possession because I have given it to them as their possession.”  Basically God says that mountain belongs to them.  Keep your hands off.  However there are other people that the Lord gives to Israelites as their possession because they rebelled against the Lord.

This is good news and bad news.  The bad news is that I don’t get their mountain.  I may not get a national women’s ministry like Beth Moore and you may not get that hit single like Casting Crowns.  But the good news is that God has a possession for me and for you, and He keeps his promises.  When He gives me my possession, whatever size or scale it may be, it will be mine.  No one else can take that possession from me without permission from God.  God is the One who is sovereign over all.  He is the One who can turn the river into a desert and springs of water into thirsty ground.  But He is also the One who turns the desert into pools of water and the parched land into springs of water, and “there he brought the hungry to dwell, and they founded a city where they could settle.” (Psalm 107:36)

God has given me hungry people to feed, and people who need a place to belong.  So they are my possession.  It’s not the numbers game of success that I am often tempted to play.  A game of comparing myself to others and complaining about why I don’t get the possession I think I need.  So if you are an artist in God’s kingdom, I pray that you are encouraged to keep creating and keep feeding the sheep God has given to you.  Rejoice that He has a possession for you and do not contend with or harass other people’s possessions.  We can trust Him to lead us where we need to go.   Keep waiting on Him…it’s the best, hardest thing we can do.


4 comments on “The X Factor

  • I was just explaining to someone the other day the difference between worldly success and God’s version of success. This person was shocked that we didn’t enter the industry willingly, that we had to be “pushed” through the door by God himself. I love sharing our story and how hard it’s been because it’s such a clear image of God doing something for His Kingdom even when we don’t want to participate. Now, being on the other side, I love sharing how humbly we live because the world does not define our success, God does. And despite what America may tell us, success isn’t being rich and famous.

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