I was sitting with some new friends as they were talking about the recent death of Whitney Houston. One of them was fairly upset that the state of New Jersey decided to fly their flags at half-mast in honor of Ms. Houston. The other man defended the honor by reminiscing how Whitney Houston once sang The National Anthem. The conversation got me thinking.
It was an interesting defense. There are few in the world who have been graced with a better voice than Whitney Houston. When she employed that instrument in a way that honored our country it filled people with a sense of patriotism and affection for our nation that was flat out remarkable. I have heard people talk of where they were when they heard Whitney sing The National Anthem.
It seems the part of Whitney people loved most was a raw gift from God. It appeared first when she was a small girl singing for her church. Her voice was not something you could work to get. It was a gift. As was her beauty. Whitney Houston had all that talent and spent nearly two decades of her life letting it seep out of her like air from a balloon.
The part that led to her untimely death was the part that Whitney added to the equation. It’s always like that isn’t it? We are part glory and part clay. People love the glory and despise the clay.
The amazing thing about God is he sees it more clearly than anyone. He sees the astounding gifts he has given each one of us. Think about it. Out of all the places in the world you were born here. Out of all the people in the world you not only have access to a computer but you can also read and write. Out of all the centuries you were born in this one. You have been given extra-ordinary gifts of grace and the only one who has ever kept track of them all is the Giver himself.
He has watched you, like we all watched Whitney, misuse or walk away from the gifts and he knows how the world has lost out because of it.
When I heard of Whitney’s death, I sighed and said with a certain air of righteousness, “What a waste.” Who would blame God for saying that about every one of us. And yet. And yet this God loves even the part that you add to the equation.
God not only loves the glory, he loves the clay and paid the ultimate price so even the clay could turn to glory.
See one of Whitney’s most shining moments and the response here: