The world was shocked at the news of Whitney Houston’s death on February 11, 2012. Whitney was a popular recording artist, actress, producer, and model who became most famous for her music. She grew up in a Baptist church, and performed as a soloist in the church’s junior gospel choir at age 11. The first solo she performed at her church was the hymn, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.”

Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston, who was also a very talented singer, saw her great musical potential and worked with her to develop her singing ability. But in Whitney’s teenage years, Cissy started taking her to nightclubs so she could watch her perform. Sometimes the teenager joined her mother as she sung on stage.

When Whitney started her recording career, much of her music was aimed at the crowd she saw at the nightclubs, rather than the church. For the next 30+ years, Whitney sold over 170 million music albums and became rich and famous. What great talent — and yet what wasted talent. Whitney Houston died at the age of 48 of a drug overdose, leaving her awards, her popularity and fame, and her wealth behind.

I don’t know if Whitney was a Christian, but I do know that each of us — even Whitney — will stand before God and find that we could have done more for Him with our lives. When Christians think the world is their friend and yield their God-given gifts to its service, they won’t make it. To whom much is given, much is required. If you don’t want to use your gifts for God, He’ll let you dedicate yourself to serving the world — but you will pay a great price. It isn’t worth it.

Christian, are you serving Christ with everything you have? Each of us could be a breath away from eternity. Our potential for Christ is only what we make of it — let’s give Him our very best today.

Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God. — Leo Buscaglia

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder