Today is the 78th birthday of my favorite recording artist, Johnny Cash. Or at least it would have been if he was still alive. But he never made it to 78 on this earth. And where he is now, with his dear savior Jesus, he is ageless and his earthly birthday doesn’t really matter to him anymore.
But it is a nice time to remember someone who made such a great contribution to music and the Christian faith. Johnny is one of those people who had a strong faith in Christ all his life, though he certainly strayed many times from the straight and narrow path. Even so, God always brought him back to where he needed to be.
Many people don’t know this, but Johnny was born J.R. Cash – no first name, just initials, are on his birth certificate. But when he joined the army they would let him in without a first name so he picked John, and then he later became known as Johnny Cash.
Johnny was also known as the Man in Black, based on a song by the same name. In the song, he explains why he wore black so often:
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times.
I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.
If ever there was a man who understood the sinner’s heart and our need for a Savior, it was Johnny Cash. He struggled much of his life with drug and alcohol addiction, but never lost the truth that God loved him. His first recordings were country and rock-a-billy, but his passion was gospel music. One of my favorite CDs of his is called My Mother’s Hymnbook on which he sings many great old hymns that he learned at his dear mother’s knee.
I imagine he is singing those hymns even today in his eternal home. Once a Wayfaring Stranger on this earth, he can now celebrate his birthday in true style with his Savior in attendance.
Happy Birthday Johnny. I look forward to attending your birthday party some day.