We don't have a TV – it protects us from bad stuff, like watching TV – and so I generally miss out on whatever's fantastically au courant or unmissable or whatever. And so it is via youtube (or, very occasionally, iPlayer) that I discover what everybody else knows about already.
I have never watched a whole episode of Britain's Got Talent, but have managed to discover (all on my own!) Paul Potts, Andrew Johnston, Susan Boyle and all the other ugly ducklings who have come to light. This morning (through a Facebook link from an American in New Zealand) I watched a song from Korea's Got Talent – Choi Sung Bong doing Nella Fantasia – and cried the whole way through it, just like I cried (and still cry) through Andrew Johnston et al. Why does that always happen to me?
This is what I think at the moment:
Man judges by outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. Our society says that looking good is better than being good, so when that deception is shown up for what it is (and in front of the Pop Idol judges, no less) there is a breath of wonder that blows into the room.
Because these are the ugly ducklings – the mobile-phone seller, the bullied choirboy, the middle-aged spinster – who have never been told how good they are, or had the chance to grow into what they could be. They are the beauty rejected, the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price, and had started to believe the whispers of the Enemy that they are worth no more than a crap job, a dull existence, and contributing little of worth.
And then, there they are – on the stage, being themselves at last. Rewatch Paul Potts first audition, and he spits out the words. You can almost see the bile and bitterness, built up over years of being thought of as nothing very much, streaming out of his mouth. It's an amazing cathartic experience, more punk than punk: spiritual warfare against the Accuser.
Because God knows us, and knows what He's made us to be. I've always loved the reactions of the loved ones to these performances, because these (the spouses, parents etc.) have probably been the sole, lonely, barely-convinced believer – they have been the voice of God, saying "You're amazing – don't give up." So when the world notices that their beloved is as brilliant as they have always thought, they almost burst with joy and pride and relief.
And in amongst all that, it just makes me cry – it cuts straight through my tired, cynical brain and fills my heart again. The glory of God is man fully alive, and I've just seen the Glory.