Saturday, February 18, 2012

Farewell to Whitney

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered — how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” (Psalm 39:4-5 / NLT).

       Like millions around the world, I watched Whitney Houston’s funeral service. We all said goodbye to a beautiful legendary singer who died way too young—way too soon.

Notable Attendees
       Her homegoing service was wonderful, tastefully done. News reports said about 1,500 invited guests attended. Many well-known family members, singers, pastors, actors, and screenwriters were present, such as Dionne Warwick, Tyler Perry, Kevin Costner, TD Jakes and his wife, music industry executive Clive Davis, Oprah Winfrey and Gale King, R. Kelly, Alicia Keyes, Stevie Wonder, Rev. Jesse Jackson, gospel singers Bebe and Cece Winans, Marvin Winans, Rev. Kim Burrell, and Donny McClurkin, among others. They all said incredible things about Whitney and paid tribute to her in Holy-Spirit-filled song. They truly honored and blessed her.
       Tyler Perry preached his heart out, telling attendees that nothing could have separated Whitney “from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39). He said “God’s grace carried Whitney throughout her life and even carried her home.” Perry also said Whitney “loved the Lord.”

Songs and Words of Tribute 
     Bebe and Cece Winans, Marvin Winans, Alicia Keyes, R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Donnie McClurkin, and Kim Burrell all sang beautiful, emotion-filled songs to and about Whitney. Kevin Costner and Clive Davis gave moving speeches about their experiences knowing Whitney as a first-time actress and fledgling singer. They raved about how beautiful she was as a person and how beautiful her voice was when she sang. “You wait for a beautiful face like that and a voice like that for a lifetime,” Clive Davis said. “And when you find it in one person it takes your breath away. I loved her very much.”
     One of the most memorable moments was the speech of her bodyguard Ray Watson who declared he, too, was a Christian. He said he was with Whitney almost every day, and she would carry her bible with her wherever she went. He said “her bible was torn up” from her reading it each day. Whitney had passages underlined and highlighted, he said. And if she thought she’d forgotten it, she would look through her bags and belongings until she found it. 
     Whitney’s homegoing was a testament to the love, power, and faithfulness of the Lord. Despite how Whitney died, the Lord was glorified through her life and homegoing service. I learned quite a bit about Whitney since her sudden passing. I always suspected she was saved because she would mention Jesus, her faith, and prayer in her television interviews. What I learned was that Whitney knew and surrounded herself with many Christian music artists who know and love God. She was a close friend of Kim Burrell and the Winans. Marvin Winans gave the eulogy, emphasizing the importance of seeking “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), “living lives pleasing to God” (Colossians 1:10), and getting to know Him by inviting Him into every aspect of our lives. Whitney wasn’t without prayer partners and a constant prayer covering from those who knew and loved her. This gives me great comfort. But I wrestle with questions about the ultimate victory in her life that probably no one can answer.

Unanswered Questions
     Why wasn’t Whitney totally set free from her addictions? Whitney knew and loved the Lord and surrounded herself with others who knew and loved Him as well. Whitney prayed daily and joined others in prayer for her life. So why didn’t God set her free? I’ve heard many stories of people who were set free immediately from drug and alcohol addictions when they went to the Lord. So why couldn’t this have been the case for Whitney? Why weren’t those prayers answered? Why wasn't she completely delivered? I just don’t understand. This grieves my heart. 
       The Word of God says nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jeremiah 32:27). And “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). So why did Whitney’s life end this way? Why?
     The comfort I have is knowing that she's with God in her heavenly home. She’s at rest, at peace. And one day we’ll see her again.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please strengthen Whitney’s mother and daughter Bobby Kristina and all of her extended family members and friends who loved her during this difficult time. Draw them closer to you and enable them to get to know you better, in Jesus’ Name, Amen!
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