There is a story, versions of which can be found on several websites, about the world-famous violinist Itzhak Perlman. It illustrates a beautiful principle about God’s grace and power, how He can take whatever we have to offer Him in this life and make it into something beautiful. I’d like to recount it for you.
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874–1922) was an Irish explorer who is best remembered for his Antarctic expedition of 1914–1915 in the ship Endurance, described in his book South. Less known is that Shackleton had an unseen source of strength to draw from—his faith.
A friend of mine asked the manager of a supermarket if he had ever cashed a bad check for a stranger. “No, I never did,” he said, “because I never look at the check—I look at the man. If I can trust the man, I take his check.” What a lesson in faith!
In The Horse and His Boy, one of the seven novels in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series, a boy named Shasta dreams of traveling to the unknown north, which turns out to include the magical land of Narnia. One night Shasta overhears the fisherman he has been led to believe is his father sell him to a noble from a neighboring kingdom. (We find out much later that Shasta had been shipwrecked as a baby and was found by the fisherman.)
God knows everything about us as individuals. He knows our frame. He knows what we’re capable of. He knows our gifts, talents, weaknesses, and strengths. And despite whatever we might think of ourselves or our lacks, He picked us for His team!1 He is certain that, with His power, we have what it takes to fulfill the role that He wants us to play.
Inspiration infuses you with renewed zest for life. It influences, moves, or guides you to action. But we all have times when we hit the inspiration skids; when we not only lack inspiration but might even doubt that we’ll ever feel inspired again.
—A retelling of Acts 8:26–40
I could never forget the day of the operation, when I was only seven. That was when I became a royal eunuch, destined to serve in the palace of the kings and queens of Ethiopia. I would never have my own family, never be looked at as “normal”—and I would always have to abide by special rules, and would not be allowed to do the things that normal people do.
There’s something special about the beginning of a new year. Even though January 1st follows December 31st the same as any day follows the previous one, to many of us, entering a new year brings with it the feeling of a new beginning, a fresh start. Last year is now behind us, and there are new horizons ahead.