I grew up singing ALL the time (at times into the handle of the vacuum cleaner as my microphone) and my absolute favorite artist when I was little was Whitney Houston. Hers was the very first cassette tape I ever owned! SUCH a big deal! My sister and I had an entire dance routine to How will I know…you know…just in case we ever needed to perform it! She had the most effortless power vocally. I mean really who can triumphantly belt the Star Spangled Banner like she did? Upon the terribly sad news of the death of a woman who undoubtedly had one of the most amazing voices God has ever given someone the words of those songs came rushing back to me last night.
I was caught off guard when I realized that those songs I loved so growing up were just not at all what I should have been singing…or even worse…believing. I will never forget when I was listening to my well-worn tape on my little pink cassette player and my mom heard the lyrics to Saving all my love for you. As you can imagine she was very upset when she realized Whitney was singing about being with a married man and that her little girl was singing right along with it. I was shocked. I had not listened to the song that closely…not that I would have understood it anyway. We agreed I would no longer listen to that song. But what about the rest?
So much of my identity was wrapped up in singing and music as a young girl. At our 8th Grade Recognition ceremony I was so proud to finally be able to sing for hundreds to hear…but for all the wrong reasons. I wanted the glory, I wanted the praise. Singing was my thing…what finally made me stand apart from everyone else…something I did well that not everyone could do. I sang the words give me one moment in time, when I’m more than I thought I could be. When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away…and the answers are all up to me. Give me one moment in time when I’m racing with destiny. Then in that one moment of time I will be, I will be free. WHAT!? I don’t believe ANY of that! But I did then! The answers are up to me!? Uh, I don’t think so! That song…that performance was all about me…not exactly where my focus needed to be I’m ashamed to say. No wonder it has taken me 30 years to understand what worship really is!
And then there was my favorite song…The Greatest love of all…is easy to achieve…learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. Oh boy. Nope. That would be the FURTHEST thing from the actual greatest love of all! YIKES! I sang these words…I believed these words! Loving myself…that would be pride…something God detests. The greatest love of all is actually the love of God…Immanuel God with us…Jesus giving Himself as the sacrifice for our sins on the cross! How could I confuse the two? I know better! If we love ourselves the greatest…where does that leave Him? What God wants is for us to love Him with all our hearts, soul, mind, strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Nowhere that I have found does He tell me to love myself. He wants us to praise HIM for who He made us to be…not ourselves.
I was so discouraged last night. First my favorite artist from when I was just a little girl had died and then all the songs she sang that I loved were of no worth!? You’ve GOT to be kidding me! Then I realized how grateful I am that I do know what the actual greatest love of all is. I am grateful that song is no longer my favorite…and I will never sing it again. I have a new song in my heart that praises the Giver of the actual greatest love of all.
This morning in church we sang the song Take my life and let it be…a classic hymn that I also grew up singing. One verse in particular struck a chord in my heart.Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
I now know and understand the importance of using my voice only to honor and glorify my Savior…who shows me everyday what the Greatest Love of all really is. I totally get it now. I pray that Whitney found that love as well.