“…Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not to punish. Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of a curse…” — Joel 2:13-14
Could you possibly be living in the “unlikely?” Could the place in which you are living, working, ministering and worshiping be a universe away from where you will end up– in God’s plan?
It is so easy to develop tunnel vision when it comes to our own circumstances and pursuits. We can become blinded to the “unlikely” around us. We feel “stuck” in our lives and cannot see anything changing in the future.
Amos called Judah to repentance. He could see the unlikely. He knew that if Judah turned to the Lord, that things could change dramatically. Judah could receive a blessing from the Lord–instead of a curse! It is amazing how a life can change and turn out differently when someone turns to God with their whole heart.
I remember earlier in my ministry coming into homes and hearing a gospel song being sung by some of the homemakers I was visiting. This popular early to mid-twentieth century hymn went like this:
There’s a land beyond the river, that we call the sweet forever,
And we only reach that shore by faith’s decree;
One by one we’ll gain the portals, there to dwell with the immortals,
When they ring the golden bells for you and me.
Many hymns have been written by pastors and theologians… some by homemakers and merchants. This one–“When they Ring The Golden Bells”–was written by a clown! His name was Daniel(Dion) de Marbelle.
Daniel was born in France in 1818, and spent his youth sailing the Arctic on whaling ships. When he was about 30, he joined the American Navy and fought in the Mexican War. Later in the Civil War, he was a musician with the sixth Michigan infantry regiment. During Reconstruction, he joined an opera troupe and traveled across America, singing, acting, entertaining in theaters, barns, auditoriums–wherever crowds would gather.
Daniel was 69 when he became one of the first clowns hired by James A. Bailey who took over P.T. Barnum’s Circus following the latter’s death in 1891. Under Bailey’s leadership, the Barnum & Bailey Circus rode the rails on 85 cars and employed more than 1,000 people.
Daniel later owned his own circus. When a fire in Canada destroyed his big top and all his equipment, he came back to the U.S. to assist Buffalo Bill Cody in his famous Wild West Show.
Despite his many talents, his last years were spent in poverty and he lived in an abandoned schoolroom. It was his misfortune and poverty which led to his life’s greatest accomplishment.
At a local Methodist church in Elgin, Illinois, he sang in the choir and sometimes gave this testimony: “For years I was so busy I didn’t have time for God and was so rich I didn’t need Him. God had to slow me down and take my success away so that He could talk to me about my home beyond the river.”
Talk about living in the unlikely! — Who would think that an “over-the-hill” clown could leave such a lasting legacy for the Lord? If God could bring Daniel de Marbelle through such an unusual path and use him to bless others, what could God do with you?
It could be that you are not to the intended place of God’s greatest purpose for your life. Where you “end up” may be far from where you are right now. Are you willing and open to living in the “unlikely?” It is an exciting and scary prospect…isn’t it?
P.S. Hey, Adam! Remember that I am praying for your protection and safety as you travel…