2 Samuel 14:14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.
News over the weekend regarding Whitney Houston’s death did not come as a shock. That’s not to say I didn’t find the news sad or tragic. To be certain, she was a pop icon of my youth, and I adored her music and “clean” image way back in the day. I dreamed of being able to sing like her, and often sang along to her music on vinyl.
One Moment in Time
Whitney was blessed with a “moment” in time, where she rose to the highest echelons and was dubbed the “Queen of Pop.” She won multiple Grammy awards, and was highly celebrated. But somewhere along that road, she lost her way.
All at Once
The daughter of the well-known gospel singer Cissy Houston, Whitney clearly had some Christian influence in her life and even stated at one concert in recent years that Jesus saved her “all those years ago.” But through her marriage to Bobby Brown, she spiraled into a world of darkness, drugs and alcohol. The once shining star dimmed as she relied on the wares of this world for her security.
Didn’t We Almost Have it All?
Some elements of Whitney’s life story remind me of Israel’s first king, King Saul, who also “almost had had it all” – and like Houston, did for a short time. The first king of Israel, he could have been recorded as one of the greatest kings of all time. He was, afterall, handpicked by God himself. God gifted him with the talent and ability to lead, and more importantly backed him up with strength and wisdom that was his for the asking. But Saul forgot where that strength came from and through impatience and insecurity relied on his abilities and worldly pleasures – rather than God. His relationship with the Lord could best be characterized as inconsistent, seeking Him only out of fear or when it was convenient.
Sometimes I see these qualities in my own life, and I don’t like it.
The Greatest Love of All
God is always willing to give us a second chance, and Saul certainly had many second chances. He does not delight when we stray from him. Instead, he devises ways to bring us back to Him. For people like Houston, I hope she found it. At her last public performance – 2 days before she died – she sang “Jesus Loves Me.”
I Have Nothing
A former pastor of ours used to say “You never see a U-haul hitched the the back of the hearse.”
It’s true – like it or not, when all is said and done, we have nothing apart from Jesus. At the end of my life, I don’t want people saying “She could have been so much more…” “If only she were more consistent in her relationship with Christ…” ”If only she wasn’t so self-absorbed….” ”If only she didn’t listen so much to the world…” “If only….”
I don’t want my life characterized by one moment. I want it characterized by the love of Jesus. And at the end of my life, if the last song I sing is “Jesus Loves Me,” I hope people see that as a celebration of truth, not a haunting memory, because if we have the love of Jesus, then we truly do have it all.
Thank you, Father for the reminders all around us of what it means to live a life in the world versus a life in you. The world is full of pitfalls and waits to devour us like a ravenous lion. As you did with Daniel, close the mouth of those lions and protect me. Help me to seek you with all my heart and let my life be characterized by your love. Amen.
Taking it deeper:
How about you? What lessons have you learned from “celebrities?” How do you want your life characterized at the end of the day?