She was as pure a voice, and as lovely an entertainer as we have seen; at least in her early days. The unmistakable influence of her gospel mother and her soulful aunt combined into a jazz/rock vocalist that took all of the world by storm. We who were believers embraced her because of her wholesome appearance and the fact that she started her singing in the church choir. Doris and I still listen to “I Love the Lord,” from the Preacher’s Wife soundtrack. And this weekend she died.
There will be a hundred epitaphs and a thousand blogs, ten thousand, written about Whitney Houston. Some will confer sainthood on her immediately and deify her music and talent. Others will use this opportunity to vilify her life and life style in the hopes of evangelizing some wayward youth and rescuing them from a like demise. I guess both approaches are fair game when a life has been so public for so long.
But my thoughts this morning are not so much about Whitney Houston or Bobby Brown, or even that girl that had blue hair last night. My thoughts are about me. (Now there’s a surprise!) And about what I am offering a hungry world that is desperately seeking a hero. Granted my world is much, much smaller than Ms. Houston’s. And my impact will certainly not gain the same press, good or bad. But I do have a sphere of influence, a small community of travelers in the same lane, moving in the same direction as me for a while. And I have a window of opportunity to be a model of some sort to them.
Paul says, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” To the Thessalonians in I Thessalonians 1:6 he said, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord.” Now there’s a sobering thought that there is a part of my world that is watching to see how I do it, making their decisions about how and if to live for Christ based on what they see in me. They watch how I start. They judge me in the middle. And they will be there to make observations at the end. Even if my “entourage” at the very end is no more than my wife and sons and grandsons it is a staggering responsibility to know that they will pass out my Grammy Award.
So, this morning I am not thinking about Whitney nearly as much as I am thinking about me…and them. What will I leave them? What am I telling them now? What lessons will they use of mine to shape their own destiny?
Here are three fast and simple ideas that I think I hope they get:
1. Life is short. It goes so fast that there is not a lot of room for waste. Now that is all the more reason to relax and enjoy it by the way. Time is too short to be fretting all the time about getting it perfect. But having said that, my father-in-laws adage is true, “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
2. Our battle is not for anything on this planet. Don’t get me wrong. I want fame and wealth and a new pick-up truck as well as the next guy. I sit around at night and look through the Bass Pro Shop catalogue and dream. I watch Charles Stanley on TV and wish that was me. (Being on TV, not looking old and wearing thick glasses like Charles Stanley.) I want to have more than I have and be more than I am. But I am always drawn back to the fact that that is not the battle. “Our battle is not against flesh and blood…..but against the spiritual forces of evil.” Ephesians 6:12 We are in a fight for our lives, literally, and the lives of those we care about and it won’t be won with glamour and glitz. We saw that this weekend.
3. All we have to do to win is finish. Can you believe that? We are in a race where the outcome has already been decided. Guess what? We win. Some of us will cross the finish line in a blaze of glory with cheering crowds and adoring fans. Some of us (read that ME) will probably crawl over in the dark of the night, just happy to have survived. It doesn’t matter. In my devotions this morning the Psalmist said, “I waited patiently for the Lord, He turned to me and heard me. He lifted me up out of the slimy pit…..He put a new song in my mouth.” Psalm 40
Listen I am no Whitney Houston or Bruno Mars or that guy that looks like Mickey Mouse. But I can SING! I know what is important. I know what I have to do to get there. And I know that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords both sings over me and sings through me every step of the way. Now that’s the lesson I want my peeps to get. Word. (I really just embarrassed myself. I don’t know what that means.)