I was watching ‘Walk The Line’ the other night – something I had wanted to do for a long time but never had the chance. It was a fantastic film, and superbly acted, even if I didn’t recognise Elvis until I was told!
As I was watching the film, and his faith was touched upon at various points – such as when the record label guy question’s Cash’s faith in God, I started to ponder more on this side of his personality, and as the film moved on I started to build much more of a picture, and realised that in many ways Johnny Cash optimizes the Christian struggle; He struggle’s to deal with the many issue’s he has, and struggle’s to put lean on God, rather than on the drugs, and temporary solutions of the world, which actually aid in his continuing downward spiral. He hurts just about everyone he knows, drives his wife away, loses access to his kids, wrecks his career.
Then things begin to change, and God provides a light in the form of an intervention by his future wife, June, and his family. In June’s words, ‘God has given you a second chance to make this right. This is your chance’.
It just seems to me that there is probably a part in all of us as Christians who can relate to this. If we are honest, don’t we all have experiences which are not so dissimilar? But no matter how badly we mess up, God always gives us a second chance..,. and a third…. and a fourth… Even in the most hopeless situations, he never gives up on us. Johnny Cash messes up allot in his life, he is by no means perfect, sinless. But he has a relationship with God and he is saved by that.
I would bet that actually he knew more about what it meant to be a Christian than many other Christians do. I remember when a record label guy says ‘The boy’s don’t want to hear you tryin’ to cheer up a bunch of murderers.’, Johnny’s reply is ‘Well they’re not Christians then’.
So what can we learn from Johnny Cash? That no matter where we are on our Christian journey – no matter how profoundly we may ‘understand’ what it means to be a Christian, we are always going to have this struggle. We are always going to make mistakes. But we can also see that God continues to forgive us, pick us up, and give us second chances.
I think that this song illustrates Johnny’s Christian ‘message’ beautifully.