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American Idol crowns surprising winner Chayce Beckham: The present-tense path to God’s best future

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Chayce Beckham won American Idol Season 19 Sunday night. You didn’t need to watch the show to care about his remarkable story.

Beckham was a forklift operator before auditioning for the show. He said during the finale, “When you’re sober for the first time, performing for a long time, going in, I was a broken person. I came out the other side just a little bit more healed.”

At one point, he drove while drunk and ended up unconscious on the side of the highway after a bad wreck. “Getting to a point to where you lose everything—from your girlfriend, your house that you live in together, your dogs, you lose your car, you lose your license, you almost kill yourself in a DUI wreck—you’re at the end of your rope there,” he said. “And you start realizing either this is what it’s going to be for the rest of my life, or we can turn things around.”

Beckham hopes his American Idol victory helps other people in hard places: “It really signifies that you can make a change, even when everything is as bad as it can be. It sounds corny, but my life literally went straight up after it went as bad as it can happen. And just with a little bit of hard work and a little bit of faith and a little bit of trust in God, it went a long way for me.”

Until the last sentence of the last paragraph, we could see Chayce Beckham’s story as one of rugged individualism and dogged determination. That’s the story our secular culture wants to tell: the path to personal flourishing lies through personal authenticity. Be your best self, we’re told. Look out for Number One. Do what makes you happy and don’t let anyone stop you.

Except for this fact: as Chayce Beckham learned, doing what got us where we are will not get us where we need to go.

Preparing for your “hinge moments”

In Hinge Moments: Making the Most of Life’s Transitions, author and scholar D. Michael Lindsay describes “hinge moments” as “opportunities to open (or to close) doors to various pathways of our lives.”

He explains: “Such moments are axial by nature, representing a fixed time, place, or event with consequences for the rest of our days. Getting them right can change our lives for the better. Getting them wrong can pose problems for years to come.”

He adds, “Each of us is given a finite number of these hinge moments in life. In total, they may represent only a few hundred minutes out of our total lives of seventy or eighty years, but they have an outsized impact on the other thirty-seven million minutes of our time on earth.”

How do we prepare for such moments?

Dr. Lindsay advises: “The best way to prepare for an unseen transition is to keep in mind how close one could be and to develop the virtues—such as humility, courage, and self-control—we will need to make good choices when the hinge moment presents itself.”

He expands on these “virtues”: “Pivoting well requires firm and unshakeable hinges in your life. These are the constants that keep you steady and stable when you have to make changes. Like literal door hinges, they provide freedom within a framework.” He identifies them as the “cardinal” virtues of prudence (applied wisdom), fortitude (courage), temperance (proper and reasonable self-restraint), and justice (what love looks like in public).

When we seek God’s help in developing these virtues every day, the Lord will use them to help us pivot from where we are to where we need to go.

As we work, God works

Chayce Beckham discovered that hard work must be coupled with trust in God. He is right: as we work, God works. When we give God our best, he gives us his best.

The pattern of Scripture is clear:

  • Joseph chose personal integrity when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, and the Lord elevated him to prime minister of Egypt.
  • Moses chose obedience to God’s call at the burning bush, and the Lord used him to give the Ten Commandments to the world.
  • Joshua chose courage when God called him into the flooded Jordan River, and God stopped the flood and brought his people into their Promised Land.
  • Daniel chose to pray to God rather than to the king’s idol, and the Lord protected him in the lions’ den and used his faith to change history.
  • Galilean fishermen chose to follow Jesus’ call into discipleship, and the Lord used them to lead the mightiest spiritual movement in history.
  • John chose to worship God even while exiled on Patmos, and Jesus used him to give the Revelation to the world.

Give God your best by cultivating wisdom, courage, self-control, and justice. Prepare for your “hinge moments,” whenever they come, and trust God to do what only he can do with and through your life.

You may not be the next “American Idol,” but you’ll be something even better: a transformational witness for the one true God.