Johnny Cash; I still miss him. He passed away in 2003. Most any kid in the rural South for the last sixty years was raised at least in part on Johnny Cash. From an early age our children were introduced to his music, sometimes against their will, when we would take car rides to visit family, the cemetery or just to go run some errands. And even though I have never been in prison, shot a man in Reno, or hopped a train bound for Texas, I feel as though I understood him.
Perhaps more so than any other entertainer Johnny Cash was the most consistent in his authenticity. What you saw was what you got – voice and all. Of course he was far from perfect. He had a bad first marriage and struggled with drugs, alcohol, fame and his own beliefs. With all of that and more, his struggles were not filtered through the spin of a publicist. We heard him “warts and all.”
I am glad as a child I had the experience of rifling through my father’s LPs and listening to that voice of pure gravel voice that is distinctive of Cash. He sung of his pain and of his joys. He sung of things he understood, but also of things that were a mystery. And for better of for worse he lived life with very little pretense.
Now far be it from me to extol him as a man of pure virtue and say, “Go and live like Johnny Cash.” Can you imagine what the choir would sound like; look like? And don’t you think you would get tired of seeing a congregation bedecked in black all the time? But we could all use a dose of authenticity in our professions and practice. As my friend Steve Davis, pastor of FBC Carrollton put it, “Perhaps we should all adopt the unforgettable opening line from his song “I Walk the Line”…and sing “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.”
I hope that you find at FBC a place for authenticity. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be authentically yours as pastor.
Grace be with you,
Let love be without any pretence. Avoid what is evil; stick to what is good.
(NJB Romans 12:9)