Living under a lot of grace

    My Sweet Al asked me, “Why did we do that?”

    “Seemed right at the time.”

    We are all living life the best we know how. We learn from our mistakes. Anyway, we should. Wisdom and time are our greater teachers. Wisdom is what happens after the experience. Time helps us understand what we didn’t know then, but know now.

    When Al does something wrong, I ask him, “Why did you do that?”

    He says, “A man who never does anything doesn’t make mistakes.”

    “Oh, really? Is that your rebuttal?” I remind him about the time he left the hammer on the top rung of the ladder. He came inside with a big gash and blood running down his face.

    It’s the hard-won truth of hard-won wisdom that a person learns the hard way. I think it taught him not to do that again.

    I’ve said many times over the years, “I really messed up, but I needed to go through that. I don’t think I could’ve learned the lesson any other way.”

    I heard an interview with Bill Gaither, an American singer and songwriter of southern gospel and contemporary Christian music. He has been a big part of bringing singers together on his television program and producing videos.

    I remember those days when we cut our teeth on his music. On his show, he had young fresh faces, men and women with big teased hair and big voices claiming their faith. Time has gone by, now they look tired and worn, but they are full of faith and know the power of God’s faithfulness. They don’t look so good, but they are true worshipers today.

    To paraphrase his answer, he said that the singers’ faith has grown into the songs they sang 30 years before. They sang the songs in faith, but didn’t know the power in the words. Today, they do.

    One singer who stood out in the Gaither singing group fell at the height of his career. He had an incredible voice, more so than the other singers. Good looking, young and exciting, he swept the 1994 Dove Awards with his song “In Christ Alone.” This award show is equivalent to the Grammys. He received six trophies, including artist of the year.

    He announced he was withdrawing from Christian music. Being married, he confessed of his affair. Less than one week from receiving the awards, the Christian world stamped him as falling from grace. His Dove Awards and his record label were stripped from him. Christian music stores removed his albums and radio stations muted him from their playlists. He had done more than most in the music world, but his youthful faith had been tested. Yes, he made a mistake.

    He spiraled downward. In time, he climbed out of the dark hole he found himself in. He continued to make albums in the secular field and hold concerts. In 2000, I attended one of his concerts in Virginia, his voice powerful and riveting, but I felt he still carried the shame from that mistake.

    We all make mistakes. The scripture says where sin abounds, much more grace is given. We need God’s grace to make it right and put us back on the path. 

    Recently. I heard an interview Gaither had with this now older man. On solid ground, with his mistake far behind him, he talks of a wonderful wife and marriage; he has matured in his faith. 

    I championed him and his career over the years. I saw God’s grace working in his life. He confessed what he did, but in the eyes of the people, he had fallen from his pedestal. He didn’t regain his fame from the world, but wisdom and time have proven his standing to be much more. Now he sings to the audience of One. He knows his story and song is about, “In Christ Alone.”

    Final brushstroke: We’ve all made mistakes, some very public with the world to see and some privately where only God and we know. But God has never turned his back on us. He knows we need his grace to walk this road and He knows some of us have to go through these hard-won experiences. We can’t seem to learn the lesson any other way.


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