Last night at the close of a special Christmas Concert performed at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, former American-Idol-singing sensation David Archuleta (a Mormon), shared a “special announcement” with his home fans regarding a new direction he has chosen to take with his life.
In the video of his announcement, I love the reaction of the audience, and also David’s unabashed show of emotion. But, I think what I appreciate even most about the moment is his honest explanation of why he is choosing to put his music career aside and serve a full-time two-year mission for his church. Essentially, he feels that God has asked him to go, and he’s saying “Yes” to God.
In the end, isn’t being true to yourself and to God what really matters in life? It definitely commands respect. I cannot tell how many times I have come to a crossroads in my life journey and received a strong feeling to make a direction change that I never would have thought up on my own. When this happens, it’s impossible to really explain the feeling any other way than as a heavenly whisper to my heart. Invariably, when God speaks to our heart, He asks us to do something hard or scary or with a potential negative social consequence. It is also usually something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to others. Naysayers may think our choice is at best “misguided”, or at worst a ”career killer”.
I made a similar choice to David’s 4 years ago. I heard that unmistakable “soul whisper” and eventually departed my professional (paid) musical career path to volunteer my talents for service to God and my church. It was not an easy choice personally. I freely admit, it was not a path I ever wanted. I fought the whole idea for a while. I had worked so hard to train to sing professionally. I had placed our family in thousands of dollars of debt to get my college degree in this field. I had spent countless hours and dollars attending voice lessons and coaching sessions, summer programs, auditions, self-promotion, competitions…and most of all, I dearly loved everything about performing on the opera stage. But, I couldn’t deny that God had clearly spoken to my heart and asked me to change. As I considered all He had done to sustain and bless my life, and the lives of my family and progenitors, how could I say “no”? In the wide scope of things I realized, as I believe David has, that my life is not my own at all. It never has been, and never will be. The only way I can ever hope to “give something to God” is to place my will and my life back into His hands.
Ironically, no matter how hard any of us try to “pay God back”, He simply pours out more blessings, so we remain forever in His merciful debt. One of the guiding principles of Mormonism is the concept that our Heavenly Father not only loves us, He has a plan for us individually. If He asks us to do something, no matter how small or large, or how impossible, hard or scary it seems, He will give us the ability to do it. He will also bless our life in positive ways that we never could imagine. The opening page of the Book of Mormon starts out with a story of a man named Lehi and his family who follow God’s request to leave their beautiful home, possessions, wealth, and social position. They would be leaving their extended family, friends, hometown and their country to live in the desert and would suffer many privations. In this case, these people weren’t just “putting things on hold for 2 years”, it would actually be permanent. Every Mormon can quote the famous pronouncement of Lehi’s son by heart:
I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. – 1 Nephi 3:7, Book of Mormon
People of all faith traditions across the world understand the concept of giving their life over to God. Think of any famous scriptural character, whether Biblical, Book of Mormon, or Koran. Think of the stories of Catholic Saints, Reformationists, modern-day religious pioneers, etc. and you will see a running theme. God asks an ordinary person to do something extraordinarily difficult to test their obedience – usually something that appears completely crazy…such as:
- work for 14 years unpaid and be tricked into marrying a girl you don’t like so you can finally get to marry the girl you love
- even though you have a speech impediment and a young family to support go ask a Pharaoh who has a kill order out for you to free his entire slave workforce
- don’t cut your hair
- refuse to follow a King’s direct orders to eat meat
- take your only son that you adore more than life itself up to a mountain to offer as a human sacrifice (you don’t know an angel will stop you at the last second)
- spend a night in a pit with hungry lions
- tell the world you had a heavenly vision that contradicts all accepted religious beliefs, be tortured and eventually die for never denying it.
- build a giant boat on dry land and fill it up with a bunch of animals
- leave your family, friends and comfortable home to walk a thousand miles across dangerous inhospitable country and then live in a desert
- conceive a child while remaining an unmarried virgin (by-the-way your child is going to be the Son of God, destined to save the entire world and you will be raising Him to fulfill this divine mission. No pressure)
Just to mention a handful of examples. Each story goes on to demonstrate an unforeseen positive outcome for the person’s faith and obedience to God. In fact, we often realize that the entire history of the world was changed because one person chose to say “Yes” to God.
Interesting side note worth pondering: Even God Himself was not exempt from living the principle of personal sacrifice for a heavenly cause. In fact, nothing He asks of us will ever compare to what He and His Son did.
So, based on my personal experience, and the examples of hundreds of faithful God-fearing people of the past, I feel 100% confident that David Archuleta will return home from his full-time LDS mission not only a more rounded wiser young man, but also a better musician with a promising career (and thousands of adoring fans) waiting. And, if not, then God has something even better in mind. Because, with God, all things are possible (Matt.19:26 , Mark 10:27), and God never asks us to do something without a good reason (even if we don’t know what it is).
David’s decision made my heart happy today. He has chosen to “go with God”. In an increasingly self-centric world, I am personally grateful for a young man’s example to choose a higher way of living. In my view, David Archuleta has just shown true “star power”. – MoSop
P.S. David Archuleta and I share one other thing in common, our birthdate. Granted, I arrived on this planet many more years before he did. In fact, my oldest (very cute, spiritual and eligible) daughter was born the day after David of the same year. So, perhaps he would be interested in coming over to my house in a couple of years for a free dinner? ;) Just putting that out there.