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Wonderfully and Fearfully Made

by Ned Wicker
(Wisconsin)

In 2009 the death of pop star Michael Jackson was a major news event and set off a media feeding frenzy, round-the-clock updates on cable television and of course coverage of all the entertainment personalities that knew the singer over the years.

The tributes centered on his enormous talent and that is how most will remember him. The legend will live on in the hearts and minds of the people, while the man himself is gone.

I was never a big Michael Jackson fan, but to deny the man’s accomplishment as a singer, song-writer and dancer, is to claim that the Gettysburg Address is just another political stump speech. In a way, I joined millions of others who mourn, but my thoughts and feelings were not likely shared by many, as they address the tragedy of his life. In the absence of God, we turn to other things to fulfill our desires and take away the pain of life, both physical and emotional.

He seemed to have everything!

The past stories run by network television news programs, like 60 Minutes, show a flamboyant Jackson, buying expensive furniture and decorations from his favorite store in Las Vegas. Then of course there was the children’s amusement park and all of the accusation and speculation that surrounded his relationships with children.

Like Elvis, he had his entourage of hangers-on, who were there to provide “support.” There was all this “stuff” in his life, as he kept adding “things” and as the legend and mystery of his life grew, it just got bigger. In the end, according to news reports, there was nothing much left of him, other than a few undigested pills in his stomach. One story says he had a faint pulse when he was found, about all that was left of his humanity.

Turned to drugs for answers

Drugs are the American answer to everything, and for Jackson, according to the news reports I’ve been read at the time, drugs were an important part of his everyday routine. It doesn’t matter which drugs. What matters is that he felt it necessary to take them. I always ask “what hurt” or “what was missing” when I read these kind of stories.

The American myth of “drugs, sex and rock’n’roll” is just a lie, a smoke screen to excuse bad behavior and hide the fact that we are all seriously flawed individuals in need of God’s love and compassion. But we turn to drugs, not to God. We turn to getting high, not to solving problems. We turn to anything but God. Pills give us relief. God desires a relationship, a two-way street approach to life. We want it now. God wants forever. We want what we want.

God wants what He wants us to have. That is why we turn away. There is not necessarily an immediate response to our desires that is in keeping with our accepted solutions to the problem, and we are not necessarily willing to even examine and understand the alternatives to our own thinking. We know better.

No answers but God!

Michael Jackson is just another in a very long list of “bigger than life” personalities that could not find the answer to the basic questions of life. People who are strong in faith are not nearly as likely to resort to drugs for every function of living. Happy people do not die the way Jackson died. People whose spirit is strong and who know the direction they are taking do not search for such unhealthy approaches. They want relief to get through the day and it doesn’t matter that the treatment is potentially terminal.

The emptiness of drug use is what breaks my heart. It’s like the addiction forces people to turn their backs on reality and live in a haze. It’s ironic to me that Rev. Jessie Jackson was there as the family spokesman. I do not have any knowledge of where Rev. Jessie is spiritually, but given his background as a Christian pastor, I would hope that he had shared with Michael and his family that which was most important to him. Even if Michael and Jessie had a long-term relationship, it is apparent that Jessie’s faith in God had little impact on Michael, at least as it related to self-care.

Somewhere along the line, the person that was Michael Jackson got lost in the legend of Michael Jackson. Drugs killed the person, but we can rely on the multitudes to always remember the legend. There was endless platitudes, remembrances, and people who only know the celebrity and the legend cried endlessly and lament how their lives are forever scarred. What hurt?

Why wasn't God allowed in?

What was so overwhelming that God was not allowed in this man’s life to bring comfort and healing? The legend does not matter to me, because the legend is not real. The abuse of drugs has caused celebrity deaths in the past and drugs will continue to be the downfall of many to come. It is the individual torture of the human soul, in both the celebrated and the forgotten, the navigation of the human experience to or away from God, that is the ultimate meaning of life.

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- Matthew 7:7-8






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