Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What did I surrender?

    In beauty pageants the winner is given a crown and awarded a title. In the pageant world when scandal surfaces surrounding said title holder they must surrender their crown, turn in the sash, and tearfully apologize to whatever past mistake had marred their moments of glory. It’s a phrase that carries with it regret and shame; it’s an unfortunate reality that tarnishes only slightly the positive arena of pageants. So, it’s understandable to receive a few raised eyebrows at the title of this blog; A Surrendered Crown, I can wholeheartedly assure that I did not have to give up any position of privilege due to some element of a sordid past, in fact I started this blog before I ever became a beauty queen, and there in lies the question, what did I surrender, and what crown am I talking about?

When I was a little girl one of the different career paths my mother chose to venture down was that of a radio announcer. She worked longs days at a Christian station in a neighboring town while my big sister and I fended for ourselves in the summer streets, chasing giants with sugar sticks for swords, and eating Swedish fish till our sides hurt. More often than not my mom would bring home old eight track tapes as the station was switching over to more modern forms of communication, these cast offs from the past era of technology became one of the greatest treasures of my childhood. On these old tapes were sermons, and all throughout my formative years I fell asleep beneath the teaching of Dr. David Jeremiah, Ravi Zacharias, Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, Chuck Colson, Max Lucado and many more. So, despite being a little girl and then a young woman with no father to speak of for he knew hardly of her existence, I was blessed with numerous examples of godly men and biblical teaching, albeit through the words they spoke and of no tangible presence. Their tinny voices that came out over the speakers of the long dusty boombox became the deep resonating voices of the father I never had, and what ultimately was my Heavenly Father speaking out into my world and forever changing my heart and altering my world views. Even as a child, the foundation that was laid for me was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can pull from probably more than one of those sermons the references to crowns in the Bible.

2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

1 Thee. 2:19-20 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

These are the crowns I am talking about, and for me to lay down these crowns at the feet of my Lord and live a life worthy to be given back to the King of Kings is what I am surrendering!! For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Anything I have been given in this world is a gift from God and I strive to give all the glory and honor back to him. When I started my venture within pageants and focusing on the accomplishment of earning this EARTHLY crown I always stated that my time as a titleholder would again be something that I would give back to Jesus, that every action and deed would be in complete surrender to Him. It wouldn’t be shortly thereafter that certain responsibilities would request me to cease putting time and effort into pageants and into another role God had planned for me. I never thought that outside of giving back a fulfilled dream to God, He might also call me to give up pursuing that dream. Yet, as it always is within His will, His plans are more beautiful than our own. This is sometimes a harder truth to accept than one wants, it usually means the dream job we wanted wasn’t what we were meant to do, it may mean that the guy we would give up anything for isn’t who was intended for our hearts affections, it means that the hopes we have will be deferred and not come to fruition. It means disappointment, but Praise God, it will never mean despair, for we serve a good and giving Heavenly Father who knows what’s best for His children. We simply have to wait until we’re on the mountaintops to understand the valleys.

 As it is, you have a couple years to try and become Miss America and so I was able to pick back up with competing in Gods timing and enjoy it all the more.  I competed in multiple preliminaries, always with a willing sidekick or a gaggle of dear friends cheering me on.  The dream still wasn’t happening, I know I had a couple worried "mom calls" with Robin….ok more than a couple…and while she wanted it for me because she knew it was important to me, she was concerned for my heart. Was it in the right place? Did I know I was good enough without a crown? Did I need this for fulfillment? I assured her that no I  didn’t need this accomplishment to be fulfilled, I knew who I was in Christ and was confident in the eternal crown I would one day receive in heaven. Though I was not a beauty queen, my voice was just as valid. A journal entry from before I was a titleholder below encapsulates perfectly that sentiment and also the message of this blog:

“Though I have yet to win a title and have a glittery crown of opportunity pinned upon my head, it truly doesn’t hold any weight on my joy or how I view myself in the mirror because I know that there is a heavenly crown that will never fade or tarnish waiting to be given to me by the King of Kings. No greater joy will I have than to lay that crown before my Lord.”  

Then, in the second to last pageant of the season, in my final year of eligibility I won The Miss Walking Tall Scholarship Pageant and became a contender for the title of Miss Tennessee. I know all my high school teachers are shaking their heads, laughing to themselves, saying, Yeah…leave it to Sarah to do things last minute.  But, here I am and last minute or not I am so thrilled and thankful for this opportunity. So yes, I have a crown, a crown with four points, points that stand for Success, Scholarship, Style and Service. It is a crown within the Miss America system, and one that I am very proud and honored to wear. It is a crown I never intend to “surrender” as I will uphold this crown and represent this system with the utmost character and integrity. However it is a crown that I have surrendered, in that the heart of its bearer is completely ready to walk this journey as an act of worship.

In Christ Alone,

Sarah Stonier
Miss Walking Tall

“ The twenty–four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." Revelation 4:10-11