Welcome I love when the Olympics take place every couple years. I love the winter games and I love the summer games. I’ve always loved sports, for the talent and athleticism. Of course, I spent quite a bit of time in front of the television for two weeks in February when the 2018 winter games took place in PyeongChang, South Korea. Viewing these games led to some contemplation on my part. Here are a few of those thoughts today.
Food For Thought I love sports, but God chose not to bless me with the talent of natural athletic ability. I played sports in junior high and high school, but I’m aware of the fact that if I had attended a larger school, I would have been cut to make way for the real talent. In college, I played club and intramural sports, loving the exercise and team interactions. But as I watched the Olympics, it made me think about how these amazing athletes got to where they are and how they achieved greatness in their selected sports. I know that these individuals, and teams, have worked very hard to get where they are in that elite place of the Olympics. I know they, along with their families, have made so many sacrifices. I would never want to downplay the intense amount of training and dedication it takes to reach this level in sports. But I also think about the story of our lives that God already knows even before we are born (Psalm 139:16). So it makes me wonder…are some of us destined for greatness or do each of us have the potential to achieve great success in any given area of life?
Greatness is defined as being great, distinguished, or eminent. Distinguished or eminent is to be recognized or famous in a particular sphere or profession. So, ideally, any given person has the potential to reach greatness in their given area of talent. After all, God does give each of us talents to use here on earth (Romans 12:6-8). The question then becomes more about our personal definitions of greatness versus God’s view of greatness. In our society, actually in most of the world, greatness is usually equated with fame, wealth, and awards. But this is not, and should not, be the ultimate determination of greatness. How many famous people do you know that are NOT great people? Even in the sports world, an athlete can be quite talented in their sport, earning millions of dollars, with their name recognized the world over, yet they are NOT a great person. I am not saying that people cannot be great, or good, if they achieve fame, wealth, and awards. I’m just saying that those things do not guarantee greatness. Or even happiness. Likewise, I know many great people in the fields of education, medicine, utility work, construction, agriculture, writing, art, music, religion, and more, and you will NEVER know their names. They aren’t wealthy or famous and many never receive recognition or awards. Yet they achieve great things and they do great things for others. I believe Matthew 20:26 gives us a glimpse into what God views as greatness: “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Greatness is in service.
So, back to my original question…are we destined for greatness? I think every single person can achieve great things in their own sphere, and God knows what that will look like for each of us. God didn’t think it was best for me and my life to give me talents in athletics, singing, music, or acting. He knew I was meant to do other things. When I self-reflect, I believe God knew I wouldn’t be a person that could handle that kind of fame in a Godly way. While I often think it would be nice to have world-class talent, I would rather have my soul and spiritual life in the right place than have the world know my name. So, I started out my professional life as a teacher, and while I never achieved fame or wealth, I was recognized in my profession in other ways. When parents express their appreciation for how I helped their child or claim I am an important part of the family, well, that feels a lot like greatness. When colleagues share something I have done well or promote me as a great reading teacher, then I know I have achieved something in my profession.
It’s interesting to me that I desire to live a quiet and humble life, yet I have spoken these words out loud: “Haven’t you ever wanted to be great at something?” I’m not sure that it’s really the fame and fortune I desire so much as the fact that I want to matter. I want my life to have purpose and meaning. I want to reach the end of my life and know that there was reason for my existence. I am now trusting God to show me how to achieve that level of greatness. I know I have been given talents and abilities and God expects me to use them (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
Greatness for me is going to look different than greatness for you. And that’s okay. I just want to achieve as much as God desires for me, whether it be in my writing and words of encouragement, whether it be in my role as wife and mother, whether it be in my role as volunteer and service for others, whether it be in my role as friend. And when I watch talented athletes or listen to successful musicians, I will enjoy their performances without envy, knowing that their success was not meant for me.
In closing, I want to share a few quotes regarding talent and greatness (source: biblereasons.com):
“If you have money, power, and status today, it is due to the century and place in which you were born, to your talents and capacities and health, none of which you earned. In short, all your resources are in the end the gift of God.” Tim Keller
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.” Erma Bombeck
Today’s Scripture There are some verses that come to mind when I think about God’s predestined plans for our lives, like Jeremiah 29:11and Psalm 139:16. I also think of this passage from Romans, which is why each Christian is guaranteed greatness in the eyes of God:
Romans 8:28-31 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Today’s Recipe Okay, I have to share this recipe from the weekend. You know the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? This holds true for this recipe! I hurt my back last week and was unable to do the grocery shopping. By Saturday our cabinets were quite sparse! We had three thawed chicken breasts in the fridge, a bag of frozen peas, and an almost full container of quinoa. Luckily the condiments and spices stay pretty well-stocked in our pantry, so I knew I could pull something together. The result is Sweet and Spicy Chicken on a bed of Quinoa and Peas. This is a healthier, and I think tastier, version of Chinese take-out. A recipe that came together out of desperation has now been requested as a repeat dish!
Sweet and Spicy Chicken with Quinoa and Peas (makes 4-6 servings)
- 1 c. quinoa (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 10-12 oz. bag frozen peas
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2-1 c. cornstarch
- vegetable oil for frying
- 3 TBS reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 TBS sesame oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 TBS minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 3-4 green onions, sliced
Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and place in gallon-size zip-top bag. Add cornstarch and shake to coat. Place in refrigerator while preparing quinoa and sauce. Place quinoa in large saucepan, add water and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, add peas, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn heat off, but keep lid on for an additional 15 minutes.
In medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, and spices. Slowly stir in the chicken broth. Set aside.
Pour about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in bottom of large skillet. (I use a large electric skillet set on 325 degrees.) Heat over medium heat until oil begins to shimmer. Shake off any excess cornstarch from chicken pieces and gently place in hot oil. Turn chicken pieces after 3-4 minutes. Cook an additional 2-4 minutes until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
When chicken is finished cooking, drizzle sweet and spicy sauce over chicken. Add green onions.
To serve, place a scoop of quinoa and peas in the bottom of a bowl. Top with chicken and sauce.