Look at them . . . the beautiful bride and her handsome groom . . . will they ever look so happy again . . . so full of love and empty of all sin?
We were driving out of town this past week after seeing the new movie “Elvis” last Saturday. The offspring of our offspring were riding in the back seat of our car on a long drive to where we were going, and we listened to Elvis Presley’s “Greatest Hits” that lasted the entire three hour drive.
Elvis Aaron Presley who was born before we were and died before we did and whose lifetime of music still defines and haunts our lives today died forty-five years ago this coming August.
One of those songs Elvis sang on our drive is called “Kentucky Rain.” It’s about a young man who goes searching from town to town for his lost and fallen love, and he does so forever.
When the song played on our car stereo, I took my longtime beautiful bride’s hand and gently squeezed it and told her something that I never had told her before.
“When we were young and newly married,” I said quietly because I didn’t want our grandkids to hear what I said, although it was alright if they did, “this song always made me cry . . . and it still does . . . because I always knew that if you had ever left me that I would be like the man in this song who would forever go searching for you. You never left me like the bride did her husband in this song, and I am so grateful to you for that, and I love you so much, but if you ever did, or if you ever do, I know that I will search forever for you.”
I had a tear in my eye and also in my voice when I softly said this to Karen, and I felt like she felt the emotion of what I said, as well as the moment just then that my words created between us.
Karen said nothing, but she gently squeezed my hand.
She could have just as easily burst out laughing and said, “Ohhhh, COME ON!”
In truth, there have been so many infidelities committed by both of us against one another and against the God who made us one . . . so many that they are too numerous to count . . . mostly on my part but plenty enough on hers too.
Don’t get me wrong, we have neither of us committed adultery . . . with our bodies, that is . . . but in our minds . . . and in our very hearts?
May God have mercy on our souls!
The Bible which both Karen and I hold dearest of all writings on earth is not a book of “dos and don’ts” like most people suppose it is. It is a mirror that the honest soul holds up to his or her face and sees just how dirty is that face and how much in need of cleansing is that soul who is brave enough . . . or desperate enough . . . to look into that mirror.
A very brief passage in the Bible is something called “The Sermon On The Mount.” It is thought by practically everyone who reads it to be the greatest statement of ethics in all of human teaching . . . and it is utterly impossible to live.
In a very few verses of Scripture, an itinerant Preacher lays bare the soul of humanity and pronounces it damned.
For instance, The Preacher says that anyone who only lusts in their mind or heart for another who is not that one’s own spouse is as guilty of adultery and will just as surely burn in hell as the one who completes the adulterous thought or feeling with their flesh.
Also anyone who so much as calls another person a “fool” is just as guilty and just as sure to be condemned to death and to the fires of hell as the one who physically murders another person.
“Because,” says The Preacher, “you must be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is Perfect!”
“WHO the hell hasn’t done either one if not both of those two damnable things!” you ask.
“And WHO the hell has ever been PERFECT anyway!” you plead.
The Bible says that The Preacher was Perfect.
And because of His Perfection, we as an entire race of imperfect people took Him and beat Him beyond recognition as human and then nailed His Body naked to a tree until He bled to death from a pierced and broken Heart.
And horrific and ancient and beyond all reason as it may seem . . . His Blood can wash us clean and make us as Perfect as Him.
Elvis Presley was an everyman. We went to see the new movie about his wonderful and tragic life again last night with a friend who had not seen it. We took our friend to dinner and the movie for her sixty-ninth birthday, one year shy of the three score and ten that the Bible says that we get to live on this earth if we’re blessed to do so.
Our friend told us as we walked her to her car after the movie that she’d been someplace where there was nothing but Elvis singing his favorite songs in all the world, and it wasn’t the rock & roll, nor rhythm & blues, nor, even, country music for which he was so famous, but just simple Gospel songs and hymns.
He was so talented, our friend said. “What if Elvis had only sung this music that made him the happiest? He lost everything from his little girl to his wife and in the end his life to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Would his life have turned out better if he’d only sung the songs he loved best?”
“We all misuse our gifts,” I said. “Some just more dramatically than others.”
I woke up this morning thinking that Elvis Presley wasn’t singing “Kentucky Rain” about himself . . . or about me . . . or about you.
He was singing about Someone who Perfectly Loves.
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