Monday, February 13, 2012

Would I?

On Saturday February 11, 2012, the keeper of one of the music industry’s most angelic voices transitioned from this earth. Whitney Houston – known for up-tempo dance hits like “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “So Emotional” or soul-stirring ballads like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” “I Will Always Love You,” and my personal favorite “I Have Nothing” – was a mere 48 years old. She died six months shy of her 49th birthday.

48. She was roughly 9 years older than I am.

As a pretty strong music fan and certainly a fan of hers, I’ve had an amalgam of feelings since learning of her death. The sea of my feelings runs a bit deeper than a general appreciation for musical arts and blatant vocal gifts. I have always had a fondness and an acute sensitivity (or sympathy, some would say) for the talented men and women who live their lives simultaneously in the glitz and glamor of Tinsel Town and under the relentless, judgmental microscope of the general public.

When I consider my own challenges – the many missteps and mistakes of my little life, constantly grasping for the hand of grace to pull me to safety and deliver me from my seemingly simple struggles – I can only imagine what it’s like to have that natural experience with preying paparazzi around every corner. There they are, positioned and waiting to serve your personal best and personal MESS (usually more of your mess than your best) on a platter for the whole world to feast upon. THAT, my friends, has to be HARD!

Of course I have an extra sensitivity to the plight of women. I mean, after all I am one. Oh how my heart grieves for the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Rihanna and Demi Moore. And it wept just the same for Whitney Houston as I watched her go round after round in a constant battle with herself, a battle she’d never win on her own. I used to pray for just one opportunity to “touch” her, maybe speak a word of two in her ear or say a prayer for her in person. It may sound silly, but I don’t believe my heart is sensitive to the plight of these women in this industry for no reason.

Today, I grapple with whether or not I would have seized the moment if it had been presented to me. If I’d run into THE Whitney Houston at that gas station where I knew she’d been seen, the one I used to pass by each day on my way home from work, would I have been bold enough to ask her if I could pray with her? Would I have been courageous enough to simply tell her, “You are a BEAUTIFUL child of the most High God. Your fans love you, but their love is weak and frail next to the girth of His great love. And He loves you dearly. That voice…It’s a gift from Him. He wants you to preserve it, manage it well and use it for His glory, to draw those who don’t know Him to Him.” Would I?

The sad truth is quite likely I would not have. And maybe that’s why I never got the chance. You see I may not have her fame, or her Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Billboard Music Awards or American Music Awards, but I’m guessing at some point in the journey of our lives we’ve had things in common that are of no value to the recording academy. Remember, our mess is only good for selling tabloids.

Maybe I would have been too afraid of her potential comments, that she may have discounted my story as not similar enough or unrelated to her struggle, or even thought I was crazy. But that should always be the chance I’m willing to take. My responsibility is to be obedient, share my story and allow the Spirit of the Living God to handle the rest.

I’d always hoped that Whitney Houston would have a truly triumphant comeback. Years ago, I envisioned what that could look like, complete with an amateur marketing plan and her triumphant come-back song. But the power, the real power would come when she was able to share her story on the other side of it. She had the platform, and it would bless people beyond measure, serving as the hand of grace reaching to pull others out of their mess. On one hand I am saddened because it doesn’t feel like she had that chance. On the other hand, I breathe a sigh of relief because now she has been completely and eternally delivered from the struggles of this world and the life she lived.

I know I’ve said a lot here today. Some of it may roll together. Some of it may not. That’s ok. The message for me is simple, and I hope it resonates with you, as well. Never be afraid to share my story. And if I can’t share it right here on this little blog with this community of women, how on earth did I (or even do I) expect the Lord to entrust me with one who was given as a musical gift to the world.

I’ve been quiet for a while, working through grief, plagued by the desire for perfection that only breeds procrastination. Obedience is so simple. Just share my story. And so I will. Don’t ask me what that will look like, because I’d be forced to admit I have no idea. But I’m down for the challenge. Because I want the Lord to know that He can trust me. Because I want to exchange the uncertainty of “would I” into the boldness of “yes I would” and “yes I will.”

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We the Jury Find the Defendant…

Not guilty.

The defense is relieved.

The prosecution is stunned.

There’s simultaneous joy and sadness on both sides of the table.  There was no mistrial, no hung jury.  There are those who agree and those who disagree, but at the end of the day, the verdict is final.  Case closed.

I know her name – Casey Anthony.  I know the accusation – accused of murdering her own child.  That’s the extent of my knowledge.  I know the world has been glued to the details of her murder trial, but for me, life went on.  However, I was stopped a couple of days ago as the facebook community sounded off about the verdict in this trial.

It’s always a tough pill to swallow when someone who appears to have committed one of our “major” sins seems to go free.  In these moments it becomes glaringly obvious that we’ve attempted to position our God on our level and expect Him to judge sin according to the grade levels or categories we’ve assigned it here on earth.  Lies are little sins.  Murder is big.  Murdering one’s child is HUGE!   I’m right in there with you.  Those categories feel good to me, too.  They may feel good, but are they of God?

As I perused the many Facebook rantings, I  was reminded of the story of the adulterous woman in John chapter 8.  Scripture specifically notes that this woman was “caught in adultery, in the very act..”.  Now my first thought was who was the nasty little peeping tom who caught her “in the very act”, but I digress.  For a moment, it seemed Jesus was almost ignoring the scribes and Pharisees – the woman’s accusers.  Instead of addressing them immediately, he stooped down and began writing with His finger in the sand.  Does anyone other than me wonder what He wrote in the sand that day?  Jesus finally responded to them, simply saying, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Wow!

That’s all!  But we KNOW she’s guilty, and you’re going to turn the telescope back on us and let her go free.  Wow!

Sometimes I wonder if situations like the Casey Anthony trial are God’s little reminders to us.  Our justice is so flawed.  We have states where innocent men have been incarcerated for years for crimes they are later proven innocent of.  Then there are those who we probably all know or believe are guilty who walk away free.  God’s little reminders….  His justice is the only justice that is perfect, without flaws, and never fails.  It will always prevail.

In closing, I also took a moment to reflect on my countless moments of guilt – the “little” sins and the “not so little” ones.  How many times should I have been found guilty and sentenced according to my crime, but I wasn’t.  How is it that if I told you all I’ve done you wouldn’t believe me?  My “jury” found me, the defendant, not guilty.  Christ took the blame for my sin at Calvary, and His blood washed me whiter than snow.  Is that fair?

I don’t know whether or not that woman is truly guilty of killing her child.  If she isn’t, I’m thankful she didn’t become another statistic.  If she is, I know the true Judge and Jury, and He will ultimately decide her fate as well as the fate of us all.  I, also, don’t know if she knows Jesus Christ.  Today, I think I will make that my first concern for her.  I hope that if she doesn’t know Him that she comes to know Him through this experience.  That can happen if we pray for her.  In our eyes and on our earth we are light years different from her.  however, in the eyes of the Lord, we are not so different from her at all.  Consider that for a moment.  We may not have been accused of murder, but we have been exonerated from crimes, sins against our Savior, you and I both know we DID commit.  We have gone free when we shouldn’t have.

How does that change your perspective today?  How does it challenge your prayers?

Completely ME,