Like many, I'm still saddened by the unexpected death of Whitney Houston and the loss of the national treasure that was her incredible voice. Her songs provided the soundtrack for so many seasons of our lives and her incredible beauty gave us skinny little brown girls hope back in the day. She was the original diva and became so based on raw talent and without being half-naked. Not only will I miss her amazing talent, but I'll also miss the way she exuded her unique combination of flirty femininity and round-the-way ghetto. In watching old YouTube footage of her many performances, I was struck by the way even her smallest hand gestures and movements when she sang, even when she talked, seemed to mimic and even amplify the artistry in her voice. My husband walked in while I was watching Whitney's last interview with Oprah. He says she was extra, you know- over the top (an accusation he levies against me occassionally). I simply say she she had a flair for the dramatic- for better or for worse. I'd seen that interview a couple of times, but this time something she said resonated with me. When asked if she was ever worried that she might have lost "the voice" or that she might not have it anymore, Whitney answered that she was more concerned that she might not have the spirit for it anymore. She was concerned that she might not have the desire and drive to do it anymore. Her response hit me like a ton of bricks because for months I had been trying to figure out why I have felt lackluster (for lack of a better term) with respect to ministry, particularly the part of ministry that requires me to be out front. It's been quite some time since I've had to teach and preach on a regular basis. This season of ministry has taken me more in the direction of sharpening my administrative skills and gifts. Then last week I was reminded that I'd be preaching a 7 Last Words service on Good Friday and I wasn't excited. I was thankful for the invitation, but I wasn't excited like I once would have been. It wasn't until last night that I realized that my concern isn't about my preach-ability. I just wondered for a moment if I still had the desire and the drive- the right spirit- required for the preparation and wrestling with the Word that preaching requires.
One thing we saw when Whitney made her grand return to the airwaves, the charts, our televisions, and our general music consciousness was that her spirit seemed renewed. Even though she did not have the same voice, she was still "The Voice". The essence of what she was, who she was as an artist, still remained and prevailed. She was still as beautiful, captivating, and mesmerizing as ever, and her voice still had the power overwhelm us with a flurry of emotion. Poet William Cullen Bryant's poem says that "truth crushed to the earth will rise again" (a saying famously quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). Apparently so will gifting and anointing despite times of doubt, indefinite hiatus, and even our own human inadequacies. The enduring legacy of this songstress and the incredible body of work left behind proves just that.