One of my favorite television shows is “America’s Got Talent.” Two seasons ago, Simon Cowell, one of its judges, stunned the viewing audience when he disagreed with the other judges and admonished performer Johnny Manuel for daring to sing a Stevie Wonder song. “So, with all the trills and everything, I thought it was quite annoying.” The cameras panned the audience that grimaced at Cowell’s brusqueness.
But then Simon did the unexpected: He asked Manuel to perform 30 seconds of his first audition song. Manuel would be given another chance. And perform he did! “Even from what I just hear there, honestly, you are one of the best singers in this competition, so thank you,” Simon added after the second song. Then it was time for fellow-judge, the famous song-writer/singer, Seal, to speak. “You know, Johnny, you have such an incredible voice. It is undeniable. You hit notes that I could only dream of. I was always taught that you have to be ready at every situation. You never know when opportunity’s gonna knock on your door. Simon said to you, ‘Give me something a cappella,’ and you didn’t flinch.
“You just gave an incredible rendition, and so I’m gonna have to…” Seal said, as he stood, paused and slammed the golden buzzer. Gold-colored confetti and streamers appeared from the skies and filled the stage. Everyone knew what it meant. Each guest judge is given one chance per season to press the golden buzzer, insuring the act is sent straight to the semi-finals, regardless of the other judges’ opinions.
Probably none of us will ever know what it’s like to become a national celebrity because of a golden buzzer/second chance, but every day we are given opportunities to be ready and willing to take advantage of opportunities. Manuel could have made the excuse that he wasn’t prepared. He didn’t. He recognized a “do-over” chance as the only one he would get, and he performed his heart out.
Do we do the same, knowing our days on earth are numbered? To forgive a hurt. To intercede. To be joyful, no matter the circumstances. To be thankful. To build up and not tear down. To think of others more than ourselves.
Or how about this one? To share the good news of Jesus Christ.
In the Bible, Paul instructed his young mentoree Timothy just as Seal advised Manuel: to “be ready at every situation.” In 4:2 we read, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” No excuses.
I’m not prepared? Preach the word.
I’m not in the mood? Preach the word.
I’ll be mocked? Preach the word.
Manuel made no excuse. He recognized his time was short and did what needed to be done. I pray today I do the same.