I have to admit that I wasn’t a Whitney Houston fan. It wasn’t that I didn’t like or appreciate her voice or her music; but for the past 25 years, my radio time is spent in the car traveling from one place to another and I listen to Christian radio stations. Ms. Houston’s tunes weren’t on their playlist. While I appreciated her voice, I’ve heard others who were equally good in church choirs.
Like many folks, I followered her career while waiting to be served, standing in the grocery line from the front pages of the tabloids and the glamour magazines. The headlines–good and bad–were impossible to ignore. I watched the movie, Bodyguard several times as reruns on TV. Ms. Houston impressed me with her musical talent and her acting. After her death, I was deeply moved by the admiration that she had engendered from almost everyone who met her.
Even now, several weeks after her death, people are writing about her talent and the joy this gift brought to their lives. Because of recordings and the media, that amazing talent will be played and enjoyed for years to come. This is the wonder of the world in which we live. Yet, as much as I’ve been impressed with the celebration of her life, it was the words of Ms. Houston that impressed me the most.
In an extensive interview with Oprah Winfrey, Ms. Houston said that for more than a decade she cared nothing about her voice, her talent or her career. She only cared about the drugs which had consumed her life. “Every day, I read my Bible and prayed,” she said. “I had good role models in my mother and in Dion Warwick” (a close relative). Ms. Houston admitted that she had seen how to successfully navigate through the traps of fame. “But I didn’t care,” she confessed. In the interview she appeared to blame her ex-husband for a majority of her problems; and I’m sure that his influence did result in many of her failures.
Yet, I’d like to shout from a roof top somewhere, “She wasted her life! She threw away a precious commodity–a God-given talent!”
Waste has always made me angry. I don’t like to waste food or water or energy. But wasting a life saddens me to my deepest core. Perhaps that is why I write and work long hours. I am deeply saddened by destroyed people who seek only fame, pleasure, drugs and sex. I’m not against fame, pleasure or sex. These are things God has ordained for men and women to enjoy. Nevertheless, they were never intended to replace our pursuit of godliness which gives us the only true joy and pleasures in life.
The few days after Ms. Houston died, The Special Gathering choir sang at a church. Their voices don’t ring with perfect pitch. The tones that resounded from their vocal renditions of sacred melodies weren’t delightfully pure; but they were joyful.
These men and women give of themselves to praise the Lord and that is enough. When people hear them, many weep because of their willingness to sing and praise the Lord with utter abandonment. I cannot help but contrast their performance with Ms. Houston’s life.
The Special Gathering choir isn’t the only group of people who are willing to give of their talent and reap only eternal rewards. Churches and other places of worship are filled with women and men whose only desire is to share their gifts with others and touch the hearts of people with the message of salvation and peace that Jesus gives. I believe that with all of her failures, Whitney Houston was welcomed into heaven because she professed that Jesus was her savior. However, I also believe that for eternity, she may look at the lost opportunities and sorrowful display of regrets that plagued her life her on earth.
It’s not impossible to give our lives to Christ who redeems lives by his shed blood. As we observe the Lenten season and look forward to Resurrection Day, my prayer is that each of us will fall before the cross seeking Christ’s love and forgiveness.