To The Church She Would Return
Faith Is About What God Is Doing Through Us
by Eric Elkin
One of the things I find fascinating about scripture is the mysterious ways it speaks to the reader. The bible is not the work of literary masters. It was not carefully crafted with grammatical standards in mind. Nor was the storyline the work of a great author. Still, it retains this ability to connect with readers in ways that defy reason.
Cynics can surely write it off as coincidence, but I was fascinated to sit down for my daily devotion and read these words:
Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Go ahead atheists and criticize, but I find reading these words a day after Aretha Franklin died more than just a coincidence. They are nothing short of the Lord Almighty giving praise to a great servant.
Despite the wisdom of the passage, Aretha proved you can both drink wine and be filled with debauchery while singing filled with the Spirit. But that was her life. Aretha lived radically in both extremes. Her world was full of She pain, sadness, sin, beauty, and glory beyond words.
If you want to hear the contradiction, go to YouTube.com and listen to one of her earliest recordings. She was 14 years old and singing, “Precious Lord,” in her father’s church, New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit, MI. You will hear her voice bringing God’s house down in inspiration. Yet, at the age of 14, Aretha already had two children. She gave birth to her first child when she was only 12 years old.
Aretha battled addictions to both alcohol and cigarettes. Her smoking almost destroyed her voice. She fought weight issues, suffered from domestic abuse, and had two failed marriages. If you are looking for a moral icon to emulate, Aretha Franklin would not be the best selection.
On the other hand, if you need to be reminded of the steadfast love of God for both the saint and sinner, no one could be better than the Queen of Soul herself. No matter what Aretha went through, she knew one thing, God’s unconditional love for her.
In 1972, Aretha recorded, Amazing Grace, a song written by a former slave trader asking for forgiveness, in a church in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. An area four years earlier nearly burned to the ground by frustration with racial inequality. A journalist recalling the recording observed, “Aretha was from the church, and to the church, she would return.”
Despite popular opinion, faith is rarely about what we do for God, but what God is doing through us. If you think about it, Aretha sang that song her whole life. It was freedom to even the most wounded soul.
- What is your favorite Aretha Franklin song?
- How do the words speak to you?
- What is God doing thorugh you? Have you ever thought about it?
- Who speaks to your heart about steadfast love in spite of anything you do?