Uncannily, last night and early this morning, I had a Whitney Houston song I hadn’t heard for ages in my head. Then I find out on Facebook this morning that she’s passed away at the age of 48. As I read about her life, what a sad story it was. She starts singing in church in her teens; goes into the pop industry; black people treat her as a traitor because she reaches white audiences; abusive marriage; use of drugs … and then the powerful voice she once had isn’t there anymore. She can’t hit the notes she used to hit effortlessly. Some of her audience walked out of her last concerts, unimpressed. And one of the saddest parts? She had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993 – a daughter who would now be 18/19 – a daughter who’s lost her mum and will never be able to relate to her as an adult. It needn’t have happened.
This teenaged girl started singing in the church, started doing what she was made to do – using her powerful voice to bring glory to God, but I think things went downhill long before her use of drugs. Her very first hit single is all about adultery. And the song I had in my head?
“We believe that children are our future;
“Treat them well and let them lead the way;
“Show them all the beauty they possess inside” – a harmless song you might think, and of course I would advocate having a positive attitude towards children, but it goes on:
“Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”. Really? Didn’t Jesus say first to love God with all your heart, and secondly to love others as you love yourself? This is why my taste in music has changed. As I’ve got to know God, I’ve wanted more and more to listen to words that reflect His priorities.
If Whitney had kept using her voice to glorify the Lord, she would have sung powerful songs, and wouldn’t have had to go through the heartache she did. She could have fostered the belief that children were important, and been with her children into adulthood – talking to them and watching them fulfil their dreams. Maybe she could have been a youth-worker or something similar.
Sometimes people look at God and think He’s a killjoy. If I’m honest, I probably have too in the past, and yet living without Him, can we be truly happy? God is a Father who wants the best for us. I believe if He restricts us, it’s for our good, and because He wants to teach us more about Himself.
Father, Your kingdom come, because under Your rule, we’re really free.