*Even though everyone has an opinion, everyone is not as fortunate as I to have a platform to share their opinions with thousands of others or the writing skills needed to succinctly convey their message. It’s a gift that I’ve honed for many years, but sometimes take for granted. Ted Williams and I probably have that in common.

Williams is the Ohio man who went from homelessness to the national spotlight within 48 hours. A local news reporter saw Williams standing at an intersection panhandling with a sign referencing his “God-given gift of voice.”

That reporter recorded Williams, uploaded the video to youtube.com and that has led to the first (and probably best) feel-good story of 2011. Last week Williams made guest appearances on a number of national TV programs, was hired to do voiceovers for Kraft commercials and has been reunited with his mother after ten years without contact. Talk about one extreme to the other!

During one of his many interviews last week, Williams admited his life veered off track due to alcohol and drug abuse. Before that he worked as a radio announcer.

So it’s clear that Williams was aware of his gift of voice, but like most of us, he didn’t protect his gift, nurture his gift or use it in a way that was pleasing to God, the gift-giver. There’s no telling where Williams’ voice could have taken him had he stayed on track instead of choosing substance abuse and other distractions. But after hitting rock bottom Williams has gotten a second chance to put his life on track. I hope he’s up for the challenge, because the whole country is watching. Funny thing about the gift-giver: He also gives the gift of free-will.

Everybody is born with free-will and at least one talent, a skill they deliver with purpose. Once the talent is revealed it’s up to you how you use it or if you use it at all. And like Williams, most people are given a chance to redeem themselves when they fail to live up to their expectations. But some people take even their second chance for granted. They assume their talents and the time they have to use them are limitless. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

With millions of Americans out of work and searching for employment, some people resent Williams’ miraculous rise to the top saying he leap frogged millions of people who should have been where he is just because of a Youtube video. In this case it wasn’t about whom he knew or even how hard he had worked.

It’s a reminder that sometimes life isn’t fair. But if I’ve learned nothing else from this rags-to-riches story it’s that God is in the blessing business, miracles still happen and when the opportunity presents itself I must be ready to take center stage because I might not get that chance again.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at [email protected]. And see the video version of her journal at youtube.com/steffanierivers.