“All I wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing… and then made me mute. Why? Tell me that. If He didn’t want me to praise Him with music, why implant the desire? Like a lust in my body! And then deny me the talent?”
The above lament comes from the movie Amadeus, spoken by the composer Antonio Salieri. Salieri is the top composer in his time until Mozart is discovered, who then overshadows Salieri in his glory. Mozart is a prodigy.
But Mozart is very immature, constantly flirting with girls and making inappropriate jokes. Salieri, in his own opinion, is far more mature and adult, and deeply desires to honor God with his music. This thinking leads Salieri to ask that very tough question: Why God, did you choose the immature Mozart to be blessed with unimaginable talent, instead of me, who would have used the talent to glorify You?
It’s a question that I relate with. I long to write beautiful stories for the glory of God, stories that cause lumps to form in my readers’ throats as God works in their hearts. But there is this impassable gap that exists. I have so much emotion that I long to pour into a story but I don’t have that prodigious talent to give a story the majesty it deserves. It’s like envisioning a master painting in your mind, but discovering as you paint that it looks far less impressive than you imagined it.
I’ve asked Salieri’s question before. I still ask it. Sometimes it’s out of pride, out of a sinful craving to try to affirm myself as valuable through others’ appreciation of my work. Many times, though, I believe the question arises out of a genuine desire to honor God in my writing. I wonder why, if I desire to write for God’s glory, I can find atheists who write “better” stories than me. Even stories that completely speak out against God.
But I’ve come to a freeing realization, one that other artists might relate with.
I am not called to be a prodigy. I am only called by God to steward the creative gifts He has given me. Whatever He has given me, whether it’s one talent or ten, I need to honor Him with. Right now, the stories I write won’t be read by all of America. But they might be read by a friend or a family member. And I wonder if writing a story as a gift to an individual, to be read by only them, is a higher calling than writing a book for all of America. God has placed specific people in my life and I should be using my art to influence them. I should be giving my writing to people as a gift and sharing it as a way of loving God and loving others. It’s like drawing a picture for your kindergarten age child- no matter your drawing ability, your child will treasure your sketch more than the Mona Lisa. Because the sketch came from you, whom they love.
And so how would I answer Salieri? I would say, “I don’t know why Mozart has these gifts and you don’t. But keep writing music, otherwise the world will lose another great composer.”