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Famous In Fargo

  • Published Feb 04, 1999
Famous In Fargo
By Bob Kilpatrick, courtesy of %%Christian Musician%%

I get recognized. It happens fairly regularly. Most of my friends know me by sight now. The guy at the Post Office recognizes me. So does my pastor. When I went golfing with Pat Boone, even more people recognized me ("aren't you that guy that was golfing with Pat Boone?"). On airplanes, at concerts, even in my own house, I can't escape it. There are people who know who I am. I guess I'm famous, somewhere. I guess everybody is (famous, somewhere). So I've come to the startling and brilliant conclusion that fame rarely covers the whole earth. More often, it happens in puddles. There are people - billions of people - who've never heard of Madonna, {{dc Talk}} or Bob Kilpatrick. And there are puddles (small and shallow) where Bob Kilpatrick is more famous than Madonna ever dreamed of being, and dc Talk completely dominates some ponds. Hey, you're famous, too, aren't you? Someone knows you, right? If "someone" heard your song on their friend's CD right after they played the new Wallflowers tune, "someone" considers you and the Wallflowers on the same plane (though the Wallflowers are in first class and you're not).

So here's the question: do you compare puddles? Do you want a bigger puddle? Does the fast moving new Christian act that hasn't been around half as long as you have and yet has garnered twice the coverage you have cause you to reassess your "calling"? Is this about winning? The surprising answer is "Yes." It is about winning. It's about being known. It's about being known so well by your audience that even the mundane facts of your life - your middle name, birthday, place of birth, even the number of hairs on your head - are known by Him. It's about being known by One. The puddle is very small now, but very important, because if He doesn't know you, nothing else matters. If everyone - and I mean everyone - else but Him knows you, still nothing else matters. It's about winning His approval above all else.

Everybody dies some time. The body fails and the spirit flies free. We slip, sometimes without warning, into Eternity. What about our puddles then? They won't matter much, will they? What will matter is whether we are known by Jesus Christ. He told us in Matthew 6 that he would say to some on that day that He never knew them. It is an obvious statement to say that no one would want that to be said of them. The world around us, however, does not encourage us to keep this in mind.

Rather, this world - consumed as it is with feeding the temporal pleasures - waves before us a model for living that deliberately excludes any eternal viewpoint. In this model fame by itself is important, even for doing a bad thing, or nothing at all. Axe murderers, movie stars, lottery winners and dancing pigs are all given their spot of fame. You'll sometimes even find a preacher or a Christian musician thrown in (around Christmas and Easter).


So what? So what if your puddle is the biggest? You have cultivated an image known by thousands or millions. Yet there is one puddle where you are not known and that puddle is in heaven. So, what then? Well, let's back up a few steps and ask this question: What can I do to ensure that I am known in heaven, by Jesus? It's a simple answer (not an easy one, a simple one). You must cultivate your relationship with Him like you would any other.

Relationships take time. Time is the rich soil in which friendships grow. It takes spending time you think you don't have. This is a commitment to value, or place worth (worthship is worship) on the other One. It also means knowing and being known. Relationships are reciprocal. They only grow deeper by taking turns. When one person stops moving deeper, the whole elevator stops. If you will know Jesus, you must allow Him to know you. You must be open to Him getting as close to you as you want to be to Him. To some readers, this won't make much sense. But others will recognize the fear one feels when the Living God moves a little too close to something we want to protect.

So what if your puddle is downright small. You have yearned for fame in your heart of hearts. No one knows how you have harbored secret jealousies and desires. Even in your own mind you cloaked your true impulses in religiously correct language. My, how you have fooled yourself so many times! Perhaps you have wondered, like I have, whether you would really and truly be contented with an audience of just one. Let me give some practical advice on this point. And let me qualify what advice I'm about to give by saying that I am very well acquainted with jealousy and desire and am intimately knowledgeable about cloaking my own true impulses. I speak from a wealth of experience.

And from my own well I draw this nugget (mixed metaphor notwithstanding): This is not a battle you can win once and for all. This is a war of skirmishes. Every day brings a new little fight to maintain the ground you've won and make a little advancement. Every day one decides to keep eternity in mind and to deliberately choose to turn from the world's ways and to value what is truly worthy. Every day one chooses what puddle to splash around in. Make sure you splash around His puddle first. Because remember this: you may be famous in Fargo, but if you're not known in heaven, it doesn't matter at all.

Bob Kilpatrick is available at;
(916) 961-1022, PO Box 2383, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.