February 18, 2012

The Death of the Queen, the Return of the King

Based on sales alone, if Pop Music Superstar Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, love her or loathe her, Whitney Houston is definitely the Queen. May they both rest in peace, but I cannot get her out of my head. Beauty and talent rarely go hand in hand to this magnitude, yet here she was, seemingly just waiting to be discovered, waiting to be adored. Upon first listen of "Saving All My Love For You", I knew a superstar was born.

As part of my mourning process, I created a mini "Greatest Hits" CD of my own. Even then with 80 minutes to play with, I had to cut out some songs I truly enjoyed. Lest you think this was just the work of a newly anointed fan, I have listened to her since the beginning of her career. In fact, "Until You Come Back", one of the songs from 1998's "My Love is Your Love" has always been part of a ballads compilation in the car since first listen.

In some ways, Whitney was the soundtrack to my adult life, just as the Carpenters was the soundtrack to my youth. (I always thought of Whitney's "Run to You" in the same vein as I felt "I Need to Be in Love" was to Karen Carpenter.) Her voice had its ups and downs as the years went on and drugs took their toll, but whether it was "The Bodyguard", "The Preacher's Wife" or "Just Whitney" she was always interesting.

There's many angles I could take to approach Whitney Houston as an artist, an icon, a woman. But at her core, I believe her to be a follower of Jesus. Even with her faith and upbringing, she did not finish well at all. However...

I've been captivated by what is reported to be some of her last words to friends: She couldn't wait to see Jesus. Her world seemed to tire her, and her body and soul were aching for something different, something more. My bet is she never forgot Jesus alone had paid the price for her sins.

Whitney's life is the modern day parable. Success wasn't everything and in fact, may have helped keep her enslaved. All this makes her early hit "Didn't We Almost Have It All?" take on an entirely new meaning, as does her brilliant take on the gospel classic "I Go to the Rock". I'm sure there is more I will say about her over time. But for now, the Queen is gone.

Pretty catching advertisement, isn't it? Viggo Mortensen's eyes pierce the page, and his look is at once regal and challenging while being reaffirming. In The Lord of the Rings films, this hero finishes well, blessing everyone around him. The people waited, and he returned as promised, to the delight of some and the pain of others who opposed him and his kingdom.

"'I am the Alpha and Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'" This quote out of the book of Revelation from the Bible promises the return of the real king, Jesus Christ. And the thought of this at once brings me terror and peace, fear and hope. I fall short in so many ways. And unfortunately, so many people I love dearly view Jesus as a fable, or at worst, a philosophy to embrace versus the God made Man for our benefit. One who requires a relationship with Him in order to see eternal life beyond this earthly one. The Return of the King indeed.

Perhaps it is the recent deaths of a dear friend and the death of Whitney Houston that is making me look a bit inward to what really matters. I know my own sin all too well. Perhaps it is watching the Middle East, and knowing that once again, Israel is being threatened. And then I add in all the tragedies, both natural disasters and those done by the hands of man. In all this I think, "Lord Jesus, we need you. I need you. Save us- and save me from myself." Do you look inward too? Do you look at the world and see we are going downhill? Then I say, don't give up, and don't give into despair. Look to Him, and have hope now and for the future.

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