Johnny Cash was an artist and songwriter who mainly composed country and western music. Born in Kingsland, Arkansas, Cash listened to gospel music and radio as a child. When he was 12 years old, Cash started writing and playing songs. After an honorable discharge from the military in 1954, Cash and his wife moved to Memphis, Tennessee, hoping to sign a recording contract at Sun Records. Eventually, Cash got an audition with producer Sam Phillips. When he landed the audition, he sang gospel records, but Phillips didn’t produce gospel records anymore. Cash would eventually become one of the most prominent country musicians of all time.
Cash’s parents raised him in the Southern Baptist denomination of Christianity. In 1944, he was baptized in the Tyronza River as a member of the Central Baptist Church in Dyess, Arkansas. Cash was a troubled Christian, but he remained faithful to his faith throughout his life. The John R. Cash Revocable Trust joined with Dayspring Books to release a distinctive devotional titled Walking the Line: 90 Devotions of Truth and Hope Based on the Faith of Johnny Cash. Johnny’s son, John Carter Cash, says that faith was essential in his father’s life, saying, “When he was faced with adversaries and struggles, he always went back to faith. He could go back to faith no matter what he went through in life, and it was a certainty, a surrounding cloud of purpose.”
Johnny Cash didn’t have an easy life, and he stumbled, just as any other believer has done. However, through his struggles, he kept his eye on God and remained faithful. Here are some devotions based on Johnny Cash’s life that may ring true for you.
“All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate. I choose love.”
Choosing love over any other emotion is a powerful choice. Jesus showed us what choosing love looked like with His actions. In the most unexpected ways, He chose to love even when those around Him didn’t. For example, when the people of Jericho disregarded the blind beggar and tried to silence him, Jesus responded differently. He chose to give the beggar His undivided attention and showed him kindness. Jesus asked him what he needed and provided them, changing his life.
So how can you choose love in your life? You can respond kindly to someone mean to you on social media. You could compliment a stranger or hold the door for an older adult. There are numerous ways that we can choose love in our everyday lives. We just have to take the opportunity when it presents itself. You never know how choosing love can change someone’s life.
“Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.”
Johnny Cash used his first and last name for this devotion to show his personality’s respectable and rowdy sides. However, the apostle Paul called his dual characters good and evil. No matter what you call them, everyone has two sides to them. When dealing with bad circumstances, what happens to our good intentions? Why does our wrong side know all the vulnerabilities of our good side? When battling within ourselves, it takes a lot of our time that we could utilize elsewhere.
However, the good thing is that God sees our struggles and understands what we’re going through. He knows that we want to fight our negative side when it has us in its clutches. When it feels like we can’t avoid these battles, we should pray first and let the words and stories of the Bible encourage us. It would also help to realize that everyone deals with these same struggles. So the next time your “Johnny” and “Cash” sides start to clash, look to God and read your Bible.
“I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It’s still my symbol of rebellion – against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others’ ideas.”
Johnny Cash knew compliance takes away our most precious gifts: our platform. That means conformity in life, music, and the Christian faith. Cash used his platform to talk about injustice, poverty, and hypocrisy. He spoke of hidden truths for those who didn’t have a voice. He sang for those who’ve been forgotten in our culture. On top of that, he never apologized for his relationship with God and for needing His guidance. He fought against the status quo, as Jesus did.
At times, our journeys can be challenging and isolating. However, it helps to have little reminders that our voice, perspective, and platform are different. You may have a parent or grandparent who set an example to emulate. Perhaps you could follow Johnny Cash’s example and use a color that tells the world that you dance to the beat of your drum.
“The things that have always been important: to be a good man, to try to live my life the way God would have me, to turn it over to Him that His will might be worked in my life, to do my work without looking back, to give it all I’ve got, and to take pride in my work as an honest performer.”
Often we ask ourselves, what’s truly important? There are plenty of industries that would love to answer that question for you. However, it’s something that only you can answer for yourself. Of course, being a good citizen, friend, spouse, and worker is essential. Perhaps we should follow Solomon’s example and “fear God and keep His commandments.” Fearing God gives Him the place He deserves in our lives. When we honor God in our everyday lives, He’ll bless us beyond our wildest dreams.
Johnny Cash wasn’t a perfect man and never pretended he was. According to his son, that’s the reason why so many people connect with him. John Carter Cash added, “This isn’t a tone that’s like one of the gospels. This shows his flaws all the way through it, but that’s part of what people connect to, and that’s the beauty.” As for what he wants people to take away from the book, Cash said he wants people to find a sense of connection and a friend within the texts. Walking the Line: 90 Devotions of Truth and Hope Based on the Faith of Johnny Cash is available for purchase at Amazon.com and bookstores nationwide.