“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).”
What do you want to be remembered for? Steve Earle appears to want to leave a legacy of something more than his six previous marriages, heroin addiction and time in jail.
Having cleaned up his act in the 90s, Steve is on a roll. As the blogger at No Expiration writes,”I’ve said it before – Steve Earle seems to be more “relevant” and important with each passing year.”
Steve is about a year younger than I am. I can truly relate to the music on his latest album, called “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.”
The album, and a novel he has penned recently, are named after a Hank Williams song of the 1950s. Eerily,Hank died about a month after the song was released.
Steve says his new album is about mortality. Personally, I seee the lyrics of its songs more as a mourning of a life of one who has suffered its more woeful aspects.
Hank Williams song is the story of a hard luck man, for whom nothing ever goes right. The man’s life is so bad, it’s actually humorous:
Now you’re lookin’ at a man that’s gettin’ kind a mad
I had lot’s of luck but it’s all been bad
No matter how I struggle and strive
I’ll never get out of this world a live.
I surely understand Hank’ point of view. I went to be mad last night and woke up in the same stew.
Life at the moment basically, using the common youth vernacular these days, “sucks” -big time. I was mad, and still am, because life always seems to be a struggle in every area.
I feel like the people in a recent cartoon I saw called “Cold War Reenactors”. In the image, students are in a classroom, hiding under their desks.
Steve’s song “Waitin’ on the Sky to Fall” expresses the pessimism of that era:
I grew up in a “Military Town”
Waiting on the sky to fall
Everybody I knew, Hangin’ around
wondering what to do
When the draft board calls
Looking back. it must have been a miracle now
I ever grew up at all
Singing about living in a military town
Waitin’ on the sky to fall
Waitin’ on the sky to fall, Boys
Waitin’ on the sky to fall
Drinkin’ in the woods makin’ nothing but noise?
WAITING ON THE SKY TO FALL.
I admit it. I am a pessimist these. especially these days. As General Halftrack used to say in the cartoon Beetle Bailey when observing some antics of his soldiers, I wonder “What now?”
I’ve been told I’m restless, which I suppose is true. I seem to have been searching for something to satisfy me all my life, but never seem to find it.
The second stanza of “Waitin’ for the Sky to Fall” echoes, sadly, a lot of my life to date:
Spent a lonely lifetime
Rollin’ on down the line
Searching for the holy grail
Everyone’s crossed my solitary mind
Leaving me such, consecrated quested fail
Come up upon an ocean and much to my chagrin
They told me that ship had sailed
Walking on the water, cause i never learned to swim
Searching for the holy grail
Searching for the holy grail, Friends
Searching for the holy grail
I went across an ocean and now I’M BACK AGAIN
SEARCHING FOR THE HOLY GRAIL.
I have indeed crossed the sea, thinking I would find my life there. I came back in defeat.
Now it appears I am heading back across the ocean again. This time, I had better do what the song says if I am going to make it, i.e. “walk on water”.
Even getting over there right now is a fight. (But, hey, don’t they say “getting there is half the fun”?).
Most of us, unfortunately, think of the Monty Python movie when we think of a search for the holy grail. What was this “grail” anyway?
In Christian folklore, the story of the Holy Grail originates from a medieval poem involving a young man named Percival. According to that great unreliable Internet source Wikipedia, Percival is too immature to fulfill his destiny when he first encounters the grail.
The Wiki author says,”He must grow spiritually and mentally before he can locate it again.” But the question is, what made this piece of tableware so valuable.
In Christian myth, the Holy Grail was Jesus’s cup at the Last Supper. It is said to revitalize those who meet up with it, or to put it another way, give them life.
I personally am skeptical that what my shop teacher used to call “an inanimate object” can give life. If the Holy Grail can’t resuscitate a life like mine, what can?
It seems in popular culture today, we’re told the one thing that can invigorate us is a love relationship. For the believer in Jesus Christ, this involves marriage to someone of the opposite sex.
I don’t know about you, I love my wife, but I have not found holy matrimony to be easy. I know I am not alone.
Ruth Graham, the wife of Billy Graham, is famous for many things of her own. One of them is the line she gave in response to the question of whether she had ever considered divorce. Ruth answered,”Divorce, no. Murder, yes.”
Last night when I came home, rather late, my wife told me I was just in time to watch a portion of a Christian program called “The Marriage from Hell”. In my state of mind, I had no desire to see such a show, and I went to bed.
Steve Earle and his current wife Allison Moorer sing a song on their new album called Heaven or Hell. It is about marriage:
“I’m rollin’ down a blacktop highway, holdin’ the chance that my heart’s in your hands. I know it ain’t ok, but I can’t stop wantin’ you. I do the best that I can. I’m starin’ in a high beam headlight, burnin’ your name on the back of my brain. I swear I hear you callin’ out like that, to turn around ’cause I’m goin’ insane.
I love ya baby, but I just can’ tell, if this kind of love comes from heaven or hell.
Ain’t nothin’ nobody can say.Ain’t nothin’ nobody can do. Get down on my knees and pray.”
You can just feel the deperation in those lyrics. I have felt them many times myself as I ran away in my car from some argument with my spouse.
As I reflect on all this dysfunction, I am asking myself if this is the legacy Iwant to leave before I pass from this earth. The answer is that it surely is not.
I am not sure what to do about all my problems, but the book of Judges in the Bible gives me one solution. It tells me to “Go to War”.
When the Israelites were lower than a duck’s instep, they got on their knees and prayed. In response, he sent judges to deliver them.
One of the first was a man named Othniel. The Scriptures say about Othiel,”The Spirit of the LORD came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war (Judges 3:10)”.
The next judge I really can relate to because like me, he was left handed. Ehud used this to his advantage, and knocked off an oppressive king (Judges 3:12-30).
To Steve Earle’s credit, he didn’t lay down and let his sins and infirmities, and those of others, put him on the mat permanently. He got some structure in his life and is the man he is today.
This is described in the last stanza of “Waitin’ for the Sky to Fall”:
Hangin’ around a love i know, a little bit now
and I am sitting on Top Of The World
Bangin’ on a guitar while the sun goes down
singing a song about a red headed girl
Most of time I would have said them days was gone
But, I’m given it another whirl
Didn’t know that I was gonna live this long
now, I am sitting on Top Of The World
Sitting on Top Of The World, Y’all
Sitting on Top Of The World
Eyes wide open till the messenger calls
SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD!
I think part of Steve’s “giving it another whirl” involved God. On his album”I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” is a song aknowledging the Lord’s sovereignty in his life called “God is God”. Once a druggie and serial groom, Steve is singing life-giving spiritual songs.
If he can do it, so can I. Like Steve Earle, I think I will get up off the mat and give it another whirl. I intend to go to war with the devil and use the advantages God has already given me in order to get deliverance, at least in my negative heart .
Most of all, like Steve and the ancient Israelites, I am going to get down on my knees and pray.
God willing, I can leave this legacy of prayer and perseverance to my loved ones a better inheritance for my Lord than I have been to date. After all, I belong to Him because Jesus purchased me with his own blood sweat and tears.
I just seem to be following in His footsteps.
Jesus purchased me