The sun seems to be greeting me very early today. I was entertained by Elton John last night and didn’t get home until well past my bedtime. I am grateful that today is Friday. I’ll be running on fumes today, but that’s OK once in a while.
Now that I have someone special in my life, I have been attending a lot of concerts. Most have been Christian, yet a few have been secular. All of those have been from my youth. Elton John is pretty tame compared to some that I used to listen to. Van Halen recently toured, but I didn’t go. I couldn’t attend a concert that might play “Running with the Devil.” Even back then, that song (and others) really bothered me, yet I listened to that garbage way too much. Elton John certainly has a reputation, but his music isn’t a blatant embrace of evil. I’m not trying to fool myself, it doesn’t praise Jesus. Not at all.
Even so, I was lost in thoughts of my Savior. He introduced one song, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” by telling us in 1990 he said three words that he never said before – I Need Help. His life was out of control in many, many ways. He said that since that time, his life has steadily gotten better. He’s sober. A cartoon video played on the giant screen as he sang the song. Basically, it was a character that was in a chaotic scene only to be sent down a long chute into the depths of hell. It was quite gruesome. Most of the video was of the depths of that place, a horrible place. Fire, evil beings, snakes, you name it. There was even the image of Moses’ staff and serpent, but it wasn’t an object of healing. It was awful. Nothing about it made me feel like a life had been saved, as the song would imply.
If the cartoon was imagery from that period of his life, I can understand what he was going through. It was the same imagery I had when I was going through that same sort of thing. Elton John was 44 years old when his life changed. That was how old I was, too. My life hung by a thread, as his apparently did. I do believe what saved me was entirely different than what changed his life. I am convinced beyond a doubt that “Jesus Saved My Life Tonight.” I can’t say I saw any indication of that for Elton John. I did see one reference to Jesus in a video during a song played earlier, but that was of a guy carrying a “Jesus Saves” poster. Unfortunately, it was mixed among other “weird” people you see in the city – just another lunatic among drug addicts, wanderers, dropouts, and failures. The Jesus Freak apparently is just as lost as everyone else in his eyes.
At the end of the concert, he played another familiar song, “I’m Still Standing,” which was accompanied by photos of his life, happy and pleasant times. It was in sharp contrast to the other song. It made you think he considers himself to be a survivor, someone who triumphed over the life that was determined to kill him. Indeed, at about that point in the show, he spoke of his AIDS foundation and all the lives that are being saved with advances in medicine for this disease. He said that he has received enough applause to fill a thousand lifetimes, and he wanted to turn it back to thank the audience. I don’t remember exactly how he said it, but he gave his fans the credit for his new life. It was all very touching, but incredibly terrifying at the same time.
Why would I say that? For the same reason I had when I first started sharing my story in the halls of A.A. Back then, I would look around and see people struggle with sobriety. I would hear their stories, and I would tell mine. Mine was different. Sure, there were people there that had sobriety, even happiness. My story was different. I had no idea why I suddenly and completely lost my desire for alcohol. It happened in an instant. I know exactly what happened – God had mercy and saved me through Jesus Christ. He completely re-wired me into a new creation faster than you can blink an eye. Yet, I could not answer why. Why me and not so many others? People I knew in recovery would go back to drinking and die because of it. Yes, dead, as in six feet in the ground. Others would struggle. Hard. Others would finally find sobriety. Hardly anyone would sing praise to King Jesus. Rare.
Why me? Why was I so different? Why is my new life, at age 44, the same as Elton John’s, so different than his or so many others? From what I could see, Elton John wasn’t seeking Jesus and still isn’t to this day. Here’s the truth – neither was I. In fact, I knew Jesus was an option, but I didn’t want it. I flat-out refused him. It was a conscious decision. I knew what I was doing. I had heard plenty about him. I knew what people said. I knew what the bible said about hell. None of that mattered. I wanted nothing to do with him.
Then, in an instant, I did something I vowed I would never do – I promised I would do anything he wanted me to do, even if it meant telling other people about him – and Boom! I was instantly transformed. Yes, just like that. Jesus cornered me, and I believed. Just like that. Boom.
Over the years since then (June 13, 2007) I have come to understand through scripture that nobody desires God. Nobody seeks him. Nobody as in N-O-B-O-D-Y. If someone “finds” Jesus, it is because Jesus has chosen him/her. That’s why I am so different than so many others in A.A. That is why I am so different than Elton John. These people found sobriety, yes, but they aren’t seeking Jesus, the one, true, and living God. Neither was I. Yet, for some reason, he chose to grant mercy on me. And, this I know to be true: unless the same thing happens to Sir Elton John, he will actually experience a hell, like his video, except it will be something far worse than he can possibly imagine today. If I hadn’t been in those same shoes, I would say it is incomprehensible how somebody can intentionally choose that over eternal life. However, it is not only comprehensible, it is voluntary with definite purpose.
What a fool I was. Why would God have mercy on me? I have no idea. All I know is that he did, and I shall sing his praises to him for all eternity. And, here’s the crazy thing – I will do so because I want to! In fact, there will come a day when I won’t want to do anything else! Nothing – NOTHING – will distract me from praising Jesus! That day will soon be here. Until then, I have a pretty good taste of this new life. Yes, I still have bad taste in my mouth of my past life, but it only serves to remind me how precious Jesus’ gift to me really is.
Father, thank you for the reminder. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers