In 1953, Hank Williams was one of America’s foremost country singers. Millions of people the world over voiced his praises and sang along with him as he strummed his guitar and sang songs such as, “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Lovesick Blues,” and “I Saw the Light.” In spite of his fame, Williams was far from a happy man. He drove himself on and on. His song, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” was more of an autobiography than entertainment.
Williams was on his way to a stage performance in Canton, Ohio when he slumped over in the back seat of a taxi. Charlie Carr, the taxi driver, sensed something was wrong, plenty wrong, and headed for the nearest hospital. But Williams was gone—DOA, dead on arrival. A combination of drugs and alcohol had delivered a lethal blow to his weakened heart.
That night, the theater where he was to perform was packed, and it was the sad responsibility of the stage manager to tell the crowd what had happened to Williams. After the sad but almost unbelievable announcement, a spotlight fell on an empty stage, and the orchestra struck up Williams’ then famous song, “I Saw the Light.” Williams’ song was one of those songs which the industry calls “crossover songs” with a double message which can mean about anything.
Truth is always stronger than fiction, and as Paul Harvey suggested, it is the story behind the story that makes this even more meaningful. Only days before, Hank and Rosemary Clooney were riding together in an automobile, and Rosemary turned to Williams and said, “Hank, let’s sing.” “What’cha wanna sing, Rosemary?”, asked Hank.
“Let’s sing your song, Hank” (meaning, “I Saw the Light”).
The two of them harmonized together for a few lines, and then Hank stopped singing, buried his head in his hands and gently sobbed, “Oh, Rosemary, there just ain’t no light. There ain‘t no light.”
Was Williams right? Or had people whose hypocrisy turned Williams in the opposite direction stood between him and God’s Son, who cried, “I am the light of the world!” That’s the real issue: Is there light in a world of so much darkness, or are we left in this maze of twilight to try to make sense of a pretty senseless existence?
But Jesus didn’t stop when He claimed to be the light of the world. He went on to make a promise which no other person ever made. He said, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
The real issue is, “Can Jesus Christ make good His promise?” If so, He is worth my allegiance and my complete trust. There is but one way to find out, and that is to come to Him and put His words to the test. Jesus also said, “If any one chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17).
Millions and millions of people—from every walk of life and from every generation in every century—have discovered God has not left us in darkness but has given us a light which cannot be hidden or put out. The prologue of John’s Gospel puts it so clearly, “The light continues to shine in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it” (John 1:5, Williams).
I’m wondering if someone near you feels the despair of a Hank Williams who cried, “There just ain’t no light!”? Why not be the one to say, “Hey, you just haven’t found it. Christ is light, and that light can make a difference in your life.
Resource Reading: John 1:1-14
Text: The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:5
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – May 16, 2017