Regardless of the kind of music we listen to, most of us are aware of the recent passing of the great pop singer, Whitney Houston, dead at 47 as a result of complications of drug abuse.
I confess I was a fan. I have personally never heard a greater talent. Her vocal quality, control, inflection, and delivery were, in my opinion, flawless. She joins a tragic list of music celebrities who died younger than necessary, due in part to abuse of drugs or alcohol. Hank Williams, Sr., Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Curt Kobain.
Perhaps Whitney's most popular song was the Dolly Parton classic, "I Will Always Love You." Her performance of that song was nothing less than riveting. She, like Elvis, grew up in church singing Gospel music. I watched, with interest, her funeral at her home church in Newark, New Jersey. It was interesting to me how overtly Christian the service was. T. D. Jakes spoke, BeBe & CeCe Winans spoke and sang. Much of the focus of the service was on her spiritual upbringing and Christian associations.
How tragic to have world renowned talent and more money than most of the rest of the planet and yet fall into the cycle of addiction and substance abuse. Apparently money and fame are no help in defending one against the over indulgence of fleshly temptations. In fact, fame and fortune seem all too often to predispose one to the potential life threatening habits that super-abundant wealth and status afford.
Contrast that concept with the truth that Jesus taught; "If you want to save your life you must lose it," and John's admonition, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, for the things of the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life are fading away." The truth is, all that glitters isn't gold. Wealth and fame usually produce more problems than they solve. Life is not in the abundance of things; in fact, the best things in life aren't 'things'.
One of the news commentators covering her funeral mentioned the fact that the song, "I Will Always Love You", had, with Whitney's passing, risen to a new level of significance; that it had become her signature song, a message to those whom she loved. The simplicity of the lyric of the chorus; the words "I will always love you" sung and repeated twice, is haunting.
Forgive me if this seems like a stretch, but in a way that many of our minds make associations that may not seem logical on the surface, my mind went to the words of Jesus, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age", and His words to the disciples on the night of His betrayal, "even as the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you."
I must admit that, regardless of the indulgent lifestyle and tragedy of her premature death, I felt the presence of the Lord watching her funeral service. I have come to believe that one of the most important questions that can be asked in any situation is, "What is the Father's heart?" Our very lives and election as believers is a result of the Father's heart. For God so loved the world that He gave. His heart is to redeem His bride the way Hosea redeemed Gomer; to rescue us from the insurmountable weight of our humanity and it's incumbent sin nature.
So, as I watched I tried to discern the Father's heart. No doubt there would be sorrow at the detour her life had taken; perhaps disappointment at the lost potential for using her talent solely for His glory.
But I'm a dad. I have daughters (and a son). My heart would be saying, "Sweetheart, come home. You're weary. Come rest in My everlasting arms." And if I, being evil, feel that for my children....
Father, help us to discern Your heart. Your heart is really all that matters. Holy Spirit, work in us until we reflect the heart of the Father; love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Mercy, oh, abundant mercy!
New every morning mercy. Forgiveness. Grace. Let it be.
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