Mr. Cyrus, Mr. Jackson, and Me

This week, the gyrating, sensual dance performed by Billy Ray Cyrus’s daughter and the drunken assault on a police office by Alan Jackson’s daughter made national news.  What feelings and thoughts ran through your mind as you read or heard those stories?  As a father, not a politician, can I share mine with you?  

To understand what I am about to say, you first need to know who I am.

Most people in this state know me as a former state senator, lobbyist, or pro-family advocate.  My professional life has encompassed all those things.

But those titles and their associated activities are not at my core.  I do not want them to define me.  What I desire to be at my core and what I want to define who I am, to explain why I do what I do, is my relationship to Jesus Christ.

It is from that relationship that all else in my life springs (or should spring), including all my other relationships.

One of those “other” relationships is that of a father to a daughter who is now going on 26.  In years past we have experienced some severe storms.  The clouds of tears in my eyes sometimes made seeing my way ahead very difficult.

So what are my thoughts and feelings about these other two young women and their dads?

My feelings are those of a broken heart that can identify.

My daughter’s redemptive testimony is her own to tell, so I will just leave it with the fact that the two of us once wound up on the front page of the local paper because of underage drinking.  Like Mr. Cyrus and Mr. Jackson, it was “news” because of my own degree of “celebrity” at the time.

To be honest, the responses I got were very encouraging, probably because most included an expression of relief.  They were relieved to know that they weren’t the only parents who had struggled or were struggling with their own child’s drinking.

I think there are a lot of us parents today whose hearts are broken over what we see happening in the lives of our young people.  And if they are like me, they often find their heart breaking over how our culture draws in our young people and then spits them out: broken, wounded, and scared.

But the more I reflected on it, the more I believe I am wrong if I only allow my heart to break over “the culture.”  The cause of the woundedness that breaks my heart and that of many others really lays not so much with our culture, as with each of us.  After all, we are the culture and have allowed it to become what it is.

But my heart was broken even more by what I read this week in Leonard Ravenhill’s classic book, Why Revival Tarries.

As the Ephesian Church in the Revelation, we [the Church] have “left our first love!”  We appease sin – but do not oppose it.  To such a cold, carnal, critical, care-cowed Church, this lax, loose, lustful, licentious age will never capitulate.  Let us stop looking for scapegoats.  The fault in the declining morality is not radio or television.  The whole blame for the present international degeneration and corruption lies at the door of the Church.

If he could say that in the late 1950’s, could it not be said with even greater conviction and sorrow today?

If Ravenhill is right, and I believe he is, then as a Christian and part of the church, what should really break my heart is that my heart is not broken enough.

It is said that a couple of struggling officers in the Salvation Army once wrote to its founder, William Booth, to tell him they had tried every way they knew to bring about revival.  He sent this short reply, “Try tears!”  They did and revival came to the place where they were.

Perhaps as then, when my heart and those of others in the church are broken enough to turn into tears, change will come.