Guide Me O Great Jehovah: Reflections on Whitney Houston

Posted: February 22, 2012 in Entertainment/Media, Faith/Christianity, Life As We Know It!
Tags: , ,

The world recently lost a pop music icon when Whitney Elizabeth Houston tragically died on February 11, 2012 at the too-young age of 48.  For some of the younger readers that check out Here & There, Whitney’s climb up the music success ladder was before your time, but anyone grounded in the music scene, young and old, has had some level of exposure to Houston’s powerful voice.  Whitney was a golden diva among the best of them during the mid-80’s to late 1990’s before going into music ‘hiatus’ due, primarily, to the demons that haunted her during her rise to global fame.   In a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Houston explained the reason for her exit from the music scene;

“It was too much. So much to try to live up to, to try to be, and I wanted out.”  Whitney Houston- 2009

Of course with any tragic and sudden death of a celebrity, there will be plenty of speculation re: the cause of death and the circumstances surrounding.  One only has to look at the deaths of Micheal Jackson, Heath Ledger, Ryan Dunn, Brittany Murphy, Anna Nicole Smith, Amy Winehouse, and many more over the past years, and the media circus surrounding the events leading to the tragedy.  Everyone tries to speculate on the question of “What happened?” and “Who’s to blame?”   The results of Whitney Houston’s cause of death likely won’t be released for a few weeks, but anyone with any knowledge of her life was aware that she lived an imprisoned life to drug and alcohol abuse, marital issues and abuse, and the constant barrage of the paparazzi looking for another front page story.

Tragic stories like these often cause us to pause and reflect on the life we’re living here and now.  But for the most part the world will reflect on Houston’s tumultuous life, take time to mourn, and likely press on without giving it another thought within a month.  The stories that rock and shock us today, are cloudy memories a few weeks or months down the road.  So it is at this point, roughly two weeks after the death and televised funeral/memorial services of Whitney Houston, that her story still has impact and influence.  Most of us would surmise that Whitney simply lost her way, her path in life.  Others would say that maybe she never really had a clear path in life at all, and that she followed many paths hoping that one of them would eventually lead her to what she was ultimately looking for…a place where she would ‘want no more.”  Listen to verse 1 of her first ‘known’ solo as she sang Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah at the age of 11 in her New Jersey Baptist Church;

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.

So what can be learned through her story?  As this song implied, the author echoes what all of us feel deep within us, and the obvious struggles Whitney battled with for at least a large portion of her life;

  • a great need for peace
  • acknowledgment that we’re pretty small in life and need help
  • the search for our creator and maker to guide and protect us.

I was going to write out some thoughts about lessons we can learn, and challenges we can meditate on during these kinds of media-saturated deaths.  There’s no shortage of articles, blogs and news stories on this from people far more educated and with more to say than I.  But I still felt compelled to offer something…and then I got my weekly email from Dare2Share, and thought I would pass along this well-thought out post from Greg Stier and the D2S crew- A Reflection on Whitney Houston (don’t forget to check out the ABC news link at the bottom).  I felt Greg said what I wanted to say, but I think he did it in much more compelling fashion…so I’ll defer the bulk of my thoughts this time around!

My prayer is for all those celebrities and the regular ‘Joes’ out there that are searching for the peace, assurance and joy in life that they just can’t seem to find, would somehow come to the point of asking Christ to lead and guide them to the place where “they shall not want.”  No other path in life…relationships, entertainment, academic, athletic, social, etc…can ever lead to perfect peace, hope, joy, fulfillment and assurance.  Whitney, like so many others, started out on the right and perfect path, but eventually fell victim to believing the lies that the temporary shortcuts say could lead to the same place, but tragically lead us to wander aimlessly until it’s too late.  May we truly take the time and effort to learn from these life lessons that the Lord allows us to encounter.

  1. lieslsmommy says:

    I recently read All is Grace by Brennan Manning. It is his autobiography, and if you haven’t read it, you should. The man that was responsible for speaking truth about “grace” to so many… many who came to faith or stayed with faith because of his influence in their lives. The man, who struggled with alcoholism his whole life… even while still ministering; and yet still believing in the one true God. However, his demons were too big – he too felt unworthy and insecure. Hard to believe. Then here’s Whitney. She did search for happiness and fulfillment in all the wrong places…. but like Brennan Manning, how can I say that she didn’t have a relationship with God. I don’t think anyone knows for sure and it just makes me wonder. Is God’s grace sufficient enough to cover all that she did and went through? I got to believe it is.

    • Thanks for the response…and I totally agree that God’s grace is sufficient to cover up all our deficiencies. But I also understand that, while no one can for sure know where Whitney is spending eternity, we do know that she made some poor choices that contributed to severe consequences. The bibles states that it is our faith in Christ and acknowledgment of our sins and confessing that to God, that brings us back into right relationship with God the Father…but only through that faith and obedience in Christ Jesus. I’ve made many mistakes in life since I accepted Christ as my lord and savior. So if I made a couple dumb choices and fell into sexual sin, or gossip, or idolatry and the pursuit of ‘stuff’…would I go to hell if I got hit by a car? The bible doesn’t say that, but what it does say is that a true follower doesn’t remain in sin.

      God knows our hearts, and maybe Whitney was crying out to God numerous times in the attempt to repent and turn away from that life…and run back to Christ. Maybe she didn’t…no one knows except the Lord. God judges our hearts, but our actions follow in step with our hearts. If say I’m sorry for adultery and admit it’s wrong…but still keep cheating on my spouse, then I would suggest my heart has still not really repented and turned away. The intent may be there, but actions need to follow intent in order to produce results.

      So while none of us should attempt to judge Whitney’s eternal destination, it should cause us to reflect on the current state of our lives, and what paths we are following. Many people have a ‘relationship’ with God, but may base on very different elements from one person to the other. We can no longer pray for Whitney…her eternal destination is set…I hope that did have an authentic relationship with Christ, and in the end, she cried out to Him for forgiveness prior to her last days. What we can pray for is for those of us that remain here on earth where our choices and decisions now really do matter for eternity, and to take inventory of that.

      I’ve heard it said before that few, if any, stroll into Heaven…but that we all pretty much stumble and get carried in by the grace of Christ Jesus, and His work on the cross. The fact that God is still sovereign and big enough to work through us, even though we often mess things up…is just another example of that amazing grace!

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