Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Today’s Topic: Self Examination
Today’s Text: Psalm 119:59 (ESV) When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies;
In 1968 one of the famous members of the Rat Pack decided to call it quits. At a dinner in Florida with several Mob guys and another musician named Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra declared, “I’m quitting the business. I’m sick of it, I’m getting…out.”
After returning to New York, Paul Anka decided to write a song that reflect Sinatra’s perspective on his own life. In a 2007 interview about the song he wrote, Anka stated, “I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, ‘If Frank were writing this, what would he say?’ And I started, metaphorically, ‘And now the end is near.’ I read a lot of periodicals, and I noticed everything was ‘my this’ and ‘my that’. We were in the ‘me generation’ and Frank became the guy for me to use to say that. I used words I would never use: ‘I ate it up and spit it out.’ But that’s the way he talked.”
In four hours he had written the lyrics to a song that became immediately identified with Frank Sinatra. It was first recorded at the end of 1968, and has been re-recorded by people like Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Andy Williams, and even a penguin in the movie Happy Feet. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the title of the song is My Way, and it goes like this:
And now, the end is here, And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full, I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few, But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew, When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried, I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing, To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way, “Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way”
For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!
Now, if you read the lyrics with any sort of spiritual sensitivity you will be quickly moved to brokenness, or at least you should be. The life described here is absolutely contradictory to the life of a follower of Jesus Christ, and yet the lyrics are too true of too many who call themselves Christians.
In contrast to the man described in the song, there is a man described in another song, a Psalm. He is a man who is also examining his ways, and as he does he realizes the futility of them and turns immediately away from his way and follows God’s way. Charles Spurgeon describes such a man this way:
While studying the word he was led to study his own life, and this caused a mighty revolution. He came to the word, and then he came to himself, and this made him arise and go to his Father. Consideration is the commencement of conversion: first we think and then we turn. When the mind repents of ill ways the feet are soon led into good ways; but there will be no repenting until there is deep, earnest thought…Action without thought is folly, and thought without action is sloth: to think carefully and then to act promptly is a happy combination…If we are in the dark, and mourn an absent God, our wisest method will be not so much to think upon our sorrows as upon our ways: though we cannot turn the course of providence, we can turn the way of our walking, and this will soon mend matters. If we can get our feet right as to holy walking, we shall soon get our hearts right as to happy living. God will turn to his saints when they turn to him; yea, he has already favoured them with the light of his face when they begin to think and turn.
— Quoted from Charles Spurgeon in The Treasury of David
I love this line – If we can get our feet right as to holy walking, we shall soon get our hearts right as to happy living. Fulfillment in life is not about doing it my way, but about turning from my way and following God’s way.
So if someone heard that you were near the end of your life, and wanted to write a song to memorialize you, what would the lyrics say?
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD! (Lamentations 3:40)
Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:28)
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5)