Imagine a little girl with a big voice and even bigger dreams growing up in a New Jersey Baptist church. Her talent is immediately recognizable, but few in the congregation could have possibly imagined that the 11 year old child belting out "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" in her first solo would one day become a household name.
Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me till I want no more;
feed me till I want no more.
According to the 2009 Guinness World Record Book, Whitney Houston is the most-awarded female artist of all time. She has 415 career awards which include two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards. Her career might have been a bit before your time, but in her time she was a Diva among divas and a legend whose voice inspired and entertained millions.
Indeed it would seem as though our God Jehovah did guide her through her early years, but at some point there was a crossroads in Whitney's path where she felt that the bread of heaven could no longer feed her soul…and the same demons who Jesus promised would 'steal, kill, and destroy' our lives (John 10:10) fastened themselves to her life and drove her down a course that tragically ended on February 11, 2012.
Unfortunately, the senseless death of a superstar is not uncommon in our deceptive 'money/success will make me happy' culture, but something extremely uncommon did happen in the wake of her untimely death. At the Grammy Awards, host L.L. Cool J apparently went off script and did something you'll not likely see again:
"Heavenly Father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us," said LL, as audience members bowed their heads. "Today our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter and all of her loved ones. And although she's gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit and to have her lasting legacy of music to cherish and share forever. Amen."
Ironic and pleasantly surprising, isn't it? Here we are at the ultimate 'pat me on the back' golden idol ceremony, and for a brief moment an audience that is not generally known to be God respecting folks recognized in a time of sadness and loss that He is perhaps the best place to turn.
Do you agree? When times are grand we have no need for God. Our tummies are full and our lives are filled with all the world has to offer.
But when the dark clouds roll in unexpectedly and rain on our parade, we suddenly find ourselves seeking the nearest shelter, and what we soon discover is that the closest haven is always our Father in heaven.
And what other shelters are there? No pill or drink or success or human relationship can heal the pain in our souls…only the maker of our hearts knows how to mend our shattered lives.
Over a thousand years ago another passionate musician named David summed up this truth with these prayerful lyrics:
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
Praise be to the LORD,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
In my alarm I said,
"I am cut off from your sight!"
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help. (Psalm 31:9-10;14-16;21-22)
The Friday before Whitney Houston passed away, she performed "Yes Jesus Loves Me" at Tru nightclub in Hollywood, Calif. After the performance, she told a friend, "I'm gonna go see Jesus … I want to see Jesus."
We simply cannot tell when our days here will end, but we can be sure of where we will spend all the rest of our days in eternity. I believe Whitney Houston is a child of God who became ensnared by the Enemy of our souls. It would be wise for us to let this tragic death remind us that our Father is always there in times of trouble, and that Satan is always actively pursuing us and our friends with a destructive agenda to end our lives early.
Live out THE Cause…you never know how many tragedies might be stopped and how many lives might be saved.
And Whitney, I hope to hear you sing "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" one day in the eternal heavenly worship service!