"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
February 18, 2015
When I was probably about age sixteen, I participated in a talent competition for the Assembly of God church. Back then it was called 'Teen Talent' (it is now called 'Fine Arts'), and was specifically for teenagers. I can't remember all of the categories they had at the time I was involved, after all, that was over thirty years ago, but know there was singing (solos and groups), musical instruments, and perhaps drama.
We were attending a church in Oak Grove, Arkansas at that time, so that was where I had became involved with Teen Talent. I had won the area division; but can't remember if I was the only participant that sang a solo or if there were actually others who had sang. I then moved on to the sectional competition, which included a lot more churches. Those from our church who attended the youth rally (which may have been just my sister, Linda, and I -- I can't remember that either) met another larger church in our area and rode with them on their big church bus (which I think was an old school bus). I think the sectional rally was Springdale, Arkansas, which was about an hour and a half drive.
I have no idea where the sectional teen talent rally was held, but I do remember it was a big church and it was packed that night. I had sat up towards the front with the other contestants. At the end of the evening, the judges gave the results to whoever was in charge, and they read off the names of the winners. Those that won moved on to a state level competition.
I wasn't the most outgoing person at that time, and had been so very, very nervous. But low and behold, at the end of the evening, they announced my name as the winner of the solo singing division. Everyone clapped and I was acknowledged. The other winners were announced.... then the judges called the man in charge over and handed him a paper and whispered something to him. He went back up the the microphone and said that the judges had made a mistake and written the wrong name down in the solo division; Loretta Horton was not the winner. He then proceeded to read the name of the person who had actually won. It was horribly embarrassing and disappointing!
If I had never been announced as the winner, I really don't think I would have been all that disappointed. But in that moment it was the embarrassment of thinking I had won then having them announce in front of all those people that I actually had not, that was so devastating. I just wanted to crawl under a rock and cry. I then had to walk out of the church, with people commenting to me about how sorry they were, as well as feeling like they were all looking at me and pitying me. Then I had to get onto the bus for the ride home. I didn't want to talk about it; I just wanted to be left alone. I knew they were trying to be nice and I appreciated their kindness, but I didn't want to talk about it. To make matters worse, a girl from the church, whose bus we were riding, had won the piano competition so everyone was congratulating her; as they very well should have been. My sister, Linda, was there with me and I knew that she felt really bad for me and didn't know what to do to make me feel better. It felt like a horrible night in my young life!
At that moment, it felt like a really big deal, and I didn't think I would ever get over the embarrassment and humiliation of what had happened in front of all those people. Looking back, I realize that it must have been difficult for the judges to admit to making the mistake, and for the man who was in charge to have to get up there and announce that the wrong name had been called. I'm sure that there were people there who really did feel sorry for me and realized how devastating it was to think you were the winner, then have it announced in front of everyone that you weren't. For me, it was a really bad, terrible, horrible, no good day!!
The thing is, I did get over it and move on. That incident didn't ruin my life or prevent me from singing again. In fact, I had completely forgotten all about this particular incident, until a couple days ago when, for some reason, I remembered it happening. Now it's no big deal, and I realize that in the big picture of life, it really had no affect on me one way or another. For a few days, I was disappointed and embarrassed, but then I moved on and life continued.
Life is made up of many moments. Some can be disappointing, embarrassing, or humiliating for a short period of time; but the thing is, those moments don't last forever and you move on. Most times you eventually forget about them, or you look back and laugh about them, or it's just an incident that you may or may not remember from time to time; but you realize that those little things that seemed like a big deal at the time really had little or no affect on your life as a whole. You picked yourself up and moved on.
There is an episode of Andy Griffith where Opie enters a 50 yard dash contest. Leading up to the race, he convinces himself that he is going to win the 1st place medal. It doesn't help when Barney tells him about winning a ribbon in a footrace when he was a boy, and offers to train Opie, guaranteeing him a win. Opie dreams about winning, and even prays to win. But on the day of the races, he comes in last, and runs home to pout. Andy has a talk with him about his poor attitude and running off before the rest of the races even finished. He tries to explain to Opie what the meaning of being a good loser means, but he doesn't want to listen. Of course, the episode ended with Opie understanding Andy's lesson and getting the point.
The truth is, not everyone is going to win at everything they do; even when they pray to do so. Everyone can't come in first or be the best. Sometimes we have to concede that there are others who are better at things than we are. If you never get the meaning of that as a kid, then it's going to be an even harder lesson to learn as an adult.
One time when I was a kid I got a C on my report card. Back then, we had to take our report cards home and have them signed by a parent. I have always remembered my mom's response when she saw the C. She asked, "Did you do your best?" I'm sure I responded yes. She said, "Then that's okay. All I ask is that you always do your best."
I think she had an understanding that not every child was good in every subject and may not bring home straight A's. Of course, it may have helped that I was her youngest child and I had four older siblings to pave the way ahead of me. But Mama's attitude of only expecting me to do my best stuck with me and made me want to try harder. When I didn't get an A or win an award, I could have the satisfaction that I had tried and done my best. And honestly, I made good grades in high school, but didn't win a lot of awards.
Many of us may go through life without coming in first or winning awards. We may not receive a lot of recognition for our accomplishments or for things we do for others. In fact, it may seem as if most of what we do from day to day goes unnoticed. But at the end of the day if we know that we've done our best, then that's all that matters. Our deeds may go unnoticed by man, but God sees all that we do, and sees the attitude with which we do it.
In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul writes, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me -- the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteousness Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is just not for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing."
Paul compares our journey through life as a race, with heaven as our finish line. The prize awaiting us is the crown of righteousness. The thing about that race is, we can all be winners. It's not about who is the best; nor is it about who is the fastest, or strongest, or bravest, or most accomplished. It's about remaining faithful to God. It's about staying on course and not getting side-tracked or heading down the wrong path away from God.
When we reach the finish line at the end of our life, then we can each have a prize awaiting us. And it will be the grand prize to exceed anything we could ever win on earth. Jesus will be standing at the finish line, eagerly looking for us, and ready to place the crown of righteousness upon our head. I long to hear Him say the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You did good!!"
Imagine if you finished the race, and met Jesus face-to-face. He started listing off people by name, and asked them to enter heaven. Then He called your name, and you got ready to enter heaven, but then He said, "Who is that? I never knew you. It looks like you were nice, but you never wanted Me to be part of your life. I'm disappointed, but won't force you. So, you will not join me in Eternity."
There are a lot of people convinced that if they fit their own idea of being a good person, they will be welcomed into heaven. It's a lot like counting on winning some award, but not entering the contest.
Snow Ice Cream
(Perhaps since we have snow on the ground today, it reminds me of this recipe!)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup milk
1 gallon good clean snow
Take about a gallon of good clean snow. Add ingredients. If too thin, add more snow. Stir slightly until just mixed. Serve quickly before it melts!
(My mama always had us wait until the second snow before she would make snow ice cream. She said the first snow had more germs -- which is something she probably had heard from her mom.... who heard it from her mom....)
My nieces two daughters, ages 4 and 8, went to a father-daughter dance with their daddy this past weekend. They looked adorable in matching dresses, and my niece fixed their hair for them. Their 5 year old brother told them, "You look beautiful! I'm so shocked!!"
Since the girls were getting a special night, my niece and her 5 year old son had a mama-son date night, and went to dinner and a movie. The 5 year old dressed himself in shorts, ankle socks, croc shoes, and his winter coat zipped with the hood up. He told his mama, "I look awesome!" She didn't have the heart to tell him that he needed to change clothes.
Special nights that parents have with their kids is something the kids will always have as a special memory!
"Don't confuse the demand to love with the disease to please." - Lysa TerKeurst
We love you!
Loretta & Jon