(I originally planned this post for last Thursday, however I had an emergency at work that forced me to put in some major extra hours. This is the continuation of my unofficial “he’s a friend of sinners!” series where I stand up for non-clean cut Christians).
A number of years ago I went to a concert of local musicians at a bar in Baltimore. The band that opened was merely in the way, as I was there to see the headliner, and I spent the duration of the set poking fun at their conga player (congaist?).
A few weeks later I heard a song that knocked my socks off. I called the radio station and was stunned to find out it was in fact the band I had blown off in that Baltimore bar. I lamented that I had actually seen them in concert but hadn’t given them a chance at the time (and for the ultimate irony I later learned congas myself).
I was stunned to discover their lead singer had died in February. And for some reason when you hear of someone’s death all you want to is “how?”
Unfortunately, that answer is heroin.
I found this answer in an online forum. There was a collection of comments about how lame junkies are and how the singer was “retarded” for dying because of his own poor choices and that no one should even say RIP about him. Then someone who knew the singer stepped in.
He begged for everyone to stop writing him off as a helpless fiend. He was a man, certainly with his own set of demons he could just not quite get a grasp on, and who lived a troubled existence though his issues did not define him.
It’s not as though this guy was defending or justifying the heroin use that eventually killed his friend. He simply was stating one of the most basic truths – that it’s difficult to live in this world. That our issues and our problems can be tall as mountains and just as difficult to topple. And so I’ve decided to give the guy some grace instead of writing off his whole existence.
Don’t hear me wrong and walk away from this post with the impression I’ve declared he’s in heaven. I haven’t made any sort of implication – I’m just saying that life is hard. We become the sum of our experiences, and our experiences are not all rose-scented. There are a million different things pulling us in a million different directions, and our vision is cloudy most of the time. Though I live a pretty darned blessed existence, I am still quite aware that it is difficult to get through this life intact.
I don’t have a big grand sweeping point or some motivational speech – just a reminder that life isn’t perfect, at all, and that many people life without the peace of Jesus in their life.
And God said (I’m paraphrasing): “Let them be light.”