Why Me Lord?

       I am maybe 10 and it is a Friday night and I am at my Grandparents house.  We are watching some live performance music show and Kris Kristofferson comes on to sing his latest.  He is standing on the steps of a porch.  He is wearing jeans, cowboy boots, and some sort of hippie-looking shirt.  In one hand he is holding a cigarette.  In the other he is holding a can of Falstaff beer.  His long hair and strange shirt identify him as a rebel, a hippie (I know because I just picked up a tract from church entitled “Skimpy Shirts and Hippie Hair,”  the writer was against both).  His Camel and can of beer identify him as worldly and sinful (I had tracts on both those filthy habits as well).  Kris Kristofferson had written “Me and Bobbi McGee,” a song about tramping around with some girl.  He had also written “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” a song about a hangover on the Lord’s Day.  So I expect him to sing a song my Grandfather will not approve.  He rears back and sings:

     “Why me Lord?  What have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasure I’ve known…Lord help me Jesus I’ve wasted it so help me Jesus I know who I am.  Now that I know that I’ve needed you so help me Jesus, My soul’s in your hands.”

     I am incensed — as filled with righteous indignation as a 10 year old boy can be (which is a lot).  How dare he sing about Jesus with a cigarette and a beer can in his hands?  How dare he put on that hippie shirt, with uncombed hair spilling over the back, and an untrimmed beard spilling over the front and sing a song about Jesus?  This is surely taking His name in vain.  I feel tainted by the proximity of the television.

     This is the vivid memory I have of hearing that song.  Maybe some of the details are inaccurate.  Maybe it is a Schlitz and not a Falstaff beer.  At then I haven’t ever seen a beer can except on television.  What I do see clearly to this day, forty years later is my Grandfather’s face when I draw up the courage to turn around and look for his response.

     Tears stream down his face, and he says, “Now that’s a good song.”

     The hippie hair, the cigarette, the beer can — none of that matter to him.  None of it has elicited any righteous indignation from him at all.  I have to reconsider all I have thought about this because no one looms larger in my life than my grandfather who is a combination of John the Apostle, Arnold Palmer, and Dwight D. Eisenhower in my eyes.  I need to see this the way he does.

     The way he sees it is this:  We all need to pray “Help me Jesus, I know who I am.”  God looks on the heart and not on the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16.7), and so should we.  We all will be saved by grace, or not at all (Ephesians 2.8-10) — in spite of bad hairstyles and bad habits.  We all need to ask “Why me Lord?”

     At 10 you see everything in black and white — and so you think sincerity is disqualified by appearance.  Hopefully somebody teaches us that although there are no grays where God is concerned — there is grace — and we are all in need of it.

                                                                                                          ~Barry Bryson

                                                                              Manassas, VA

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