I know, I know…..people everywhere are getting sick of hearing/seeing/reading about Michael Jackson’s sudden death. I am one of them. However, my mind has for the past few days been pondering many aspects of his life and death.
I didn’t plan to watch his memorial. I was busy unpacking from our Fourth of July camping trip and cleaning up the kitchen after turning two flats of freshly picked Michigan strawberries into 40 pints of my kids’ favorite jam. But the house was quiet. (Spencer is at church camp and Mackenzie is counseling at another camp and Mitch was across the street helping a neighbor.) So I turned on the tv to help make the clean-up time pass faster. Of course, almost every channel was airing the memorial live.
My mind was taken back to my own memories of the “King of Pop”. Like most kids of the 70’s, I played the Jackson 5’s vinyl record album over and over again in my room, taping a penny on the arm of the record player to keep it from skipping where the album was scratched.
In college, I did routines to his music, the most memorable one to “Beat It”. My best friend Kelly was the captain of the cheerleading squad and I was captain of the dance team. We collaborated on that famous number, each of our squads forming a “gang”, just like in the video. It makes me chuckle to think of it now. And of course, I remember my friends and I trying to do the Moonwalk in our college dorm–in our stocking feet of course, to make it easier.
As my own kids have wondered about this man in his later years, I have steered them away from his more bizarre behaviour as he grew older. In fact, at the time of his death, my kids really didn’t know much about him beyond his early years with the Jackson Five. Sometimes at Christmas we play their rendition of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. And they’ve viewed tape of a very young Michael on the Ed Sullivan Show, singing in his classic style, talented beyond his years.
As I watched the memorial, I couldn’t help but cry. Cry for the loss of innocence of a young boy from the Midwest. Cry for the God-given talent that turned into a sad story of exploitation and often worldliness. And I cried for the message that was subtly given to the entire world at the service.
Yes, Mr. Jackson gave a lot of money to charity during the course of his life. In fact, he holds the record in the Guinness Book of World Records for giving more to charity than any other entertainer–past or present. That is to be commended. But just living a “good life” and giving money to worthy causes, does not gain anyone a place in heaven.
My heart broke as I thought about this youngster turned superstar and the journey his life took him on. Although God only knows if Michael made peace with Him before he died and was ushered into the presence of Jesus at death (And I certainly pray he did), I wanted to shout at the TV!! I wanted to tell everyone in attendance there that just striving to be a “good person” will not grant them entrance into heaven.
We need to tell the world the simple story all over again. The story of God sending His only son to die for our sins. The story of God’s grace and mercy given to us while we were still sinners. We can’t sugar coat life and the consequences of of choices. We must be honest about how to get to heaven. We must speak the truth in love. In Michael’s own words….”You and I must make a pact….We must bring salvation back…..”
In the days to come, Michael’s children will be in my prayers as well as the newest young singing sensation Shaheen Jafargholi, whom has been called the next Michael Jackson. Shaheen was scheduled to tour with Michael soon on his This Is It tour and he also sang at the memorial. I pray that he will be surrounded by wise mentors who will steer his life in a direction that glorifies God and uses his amazing talent for good.
And I pray for the rest of us. All who, young or old, have ever longed for fame or recognition or talent or glory; whether in sports or academics or even if just in our dreams, locked in our 1980’s bedrooms, singing into a hairbrush and doing a mean moonwalk. May we long for nothing more than to “bring salvation back”, painting an accurate picture of eternity for those we may meet in this life.
For, as the opening song of the memorial poignantly declared, “Soon and very soon….we are going to see the King”
No, not the King of Pop.
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
May everyone reading this be ready.