I hardly ever have the time for a quick, easy read. But I was in a church library and picked up a book, Broken on the Back Pew, by Sandi Patty. I quickly whisked through it in a few hours, but I wanted to read the entire thing to process it fully in one sitting.
For those who were involved with Christian things in the 90's, you probably remember Patty's songs, "Lift up the Lord" and other awe-inspiring songs. In my mind, there was only a few redeeming artists of the CCM world, and she was one of them. (at that time, at least)
Fast forward a few years. I am no more in-tune with the CCM industry than I am with the stock market. But my good friend, Kathy B. was. She said she cried for days when she found out her beloved singer, Sandi Patty, was found out to be in serious sin. Her role model, as she saw it in her younger years, had fallen--never to be the same again.
I stored this in the back of my mind in the "unusual" pile. The unusual pile just sits there, often for years without explanation. I have no idea of the details that surround this person's life, their sin, their repentance or not, or how it affects the time breakfast will be served in my home.
Well, when I picked up the book, I was reminded of my unusual pile again. Part of me cared. I am not sure which part of me cared, but instantly I had to know more. I'm guessing because I have had a real interest in themes like repentance and restoration.
So, this is my humble little opinion (after reading her biography in her own words) of what happened to her, and how we can all learn from it. Keep in mind that I am not an authority on this, and I have never met her personally.
It seems like Sandi was born into the CCM industry. For those who do not know the term, CCM is Contemporary Christian Music. This "industry" itself is subject to much controversy in Christian circles. While I'd like to rant about that in particular, I think I'll save those thoughts for another day.
In reading her story, one thing was lacking from it. Can you guess? Her testimony of how Jesus saved her. Now, that's not saying that she isn't saved, or that she wasn't, but it is curiously not obvious. There is a lot of commentary on her musical career and how she emerged as an unknown to a known, especially amongst the CCM industry supporters.
So, we have a woman of unusual musical abilities, with an unclear testimony, who is consumed with a career and a marriage. And I, being naive, never realized the amount of money that these people bring in each year, AND how many people it takes to run a show like that. At the pinnacle of her success, she had 25 full time people in her employ. Wow.
So, with a struggling marriage, (and whose marriage wouldn't be struggling with a woman gone most of the time?) and four? little children and many other pressures, it was a disaster waiting to happen.
And WE contributed to it. Well, maybe not you, but I did. I listened to her music also in the 80's and early 90's. What sort of supportive Christian community have we been to support this nonsense industry?
Should a wife and mom, who also happens to be a talented singer, be "on the road" promoting Christian things to Christian people who can't even be faithful to her first callings in order to do so? Is THIS ministry?
And should we be shocked when these people have affairs? or divorces? Probably not. And are they even saved? I am thinking through this. Is it possible to not be saved and do what they are doing?
Let's see.... Get up on stage? yes.
Sing religious songs? yes
Tell convincing stories? yes, but you would have to have some drama skills
sing well? yes
Perform as a Christian while you are in public? yes.
Lead people to Christ? yes, but could be hard.
The Bible says many will come to him in that day and say "Lord, Lord.. did we not do fabulous things in your name...." and not really be saved.
Is Sandi saved? not sure. In one hand she seems to be fully repenting of her sin (in words), but on the other hand, she is continuing in the same circumstances that got her in trouble in the first place. Is this repentance?
Well, what can we learn from this? What have I gotten out of this?
Whenever I hear of someone's fall into sin, I am greatly saddened and humbled, knowing that the same thing could happen to me. It would be foolish to think that I would not have committed the same sins, given the same circumstances. Take heed, lest ye fall.
But there are more lessons out there that are a tad more subtle. Many of us have talents, even if they are not singing or performing talents. In fact, every one of us has some earthly talents that could potentially be developed in such a way to create fame, money or both.
Whether it is singing, public speaking, writing, crafting, blogging, cooking, home making, photography, or whatever you are good at, the possibility exists to take it too far, too fast and go beyond what is a blessing for you, your family and those you are trying to bless.
This is the real point of conviction for my soul. How can I keep it all in balance? At what point will I say NO, if the opportunities do come my way? Have you ever thought about it? Can I keep Jesus the center of my heart, my marriage, my home, and everything else that I am involved with? And WHAT is my exit plan, if I do get over my head in something?
So, rather than judge those who have not had a clear exit strategy and made some wrong decisions, I'd like to use this as an opportunity to explore this hard issues in my own life. Are fame, money or power any of my "secret" goals? What are my goals anyway? If God has given me a talent, what is His will to do with it? or not do with it?
So, maybe your heart is stirred to consider some of the same things. After all, there are some very talented people who read this blog! What is your plan? What is your exit strategy?
Thanks for hearing my ramblings...