[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. (2 Tim. 1:9)

As a young girl, I enjoyed watching the Miss America pageants (always pulling for Miss Michigan, of course). I loved the evening gowns and the state costumes, but I especially enjoyed watching the talent competition. Some of those women were amazing musicians, dancers, and actresses. Others? Well, they had to dig a little deeper for their “talent.” For example, 1973 gave us Miss Florida performing her ballet roller-skating interpretation of Swan Lake. In 1982 Miss Oregon twirled rifles to a Herzegovinian march. And 2011 marked Miss Hawaii’s unequaled presentation of a jump-rope routine to the theme from Hawaii 5-0. No doubt every one of those women—from the opera singers to the roller skaters and spent hours preparing to perform, yet even well-rehearsed talent, beautiful clothing and physical features, and poised and confident responses were no guarantee that they would win the coveted crown.

Fortunately, God calls us to holiness simply because of His grace, not because of our stellar “talents.” (He probably would not be impressed by a fire-baton routine to “Trust and Obey.”) We don’t have to compete for a calling. We simply have to respond positively and gratefully, fanning into flame the gifts we have received from Him and using them to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to those who don’t yet know Him.

Mary McNeil Blackford

Thank God today that you have received both His calling and His grace!

Mary McNeil Blackford is a full-time student and freelance editor. She and her husband, Rick, live in Erie, Pennsylvania, with their three dogs.