Healer: The Michael Guglielmucci Scandal

I am generally not one to respond to issues of media, politics, and the like because I find that it has a way of getting me into trouble. I think that is mostly because I have found myself speaking about things of which I am in no way a subject matter expert. In this post I am not presenting myself as a subject matter expert in any way and I welcome comments from anyone who has insight or more knowledge about this whole deal.

My experience in all of this begins on July 23rd at about 1pm, when a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook. It was entitled Healer, and that got my attention. As I clicked over to the YouTube video, which has since been removed, I found myself emotionally invested into the story of Michael Guglielmucci. I myself knowing what it is like to watch someone struggle and eventually lose the battle with a terminal illness, was encouraged and empathetic to this whole story. What compounded this for me was watching 3 of my favorite worship leaders, Darlene Zschech, Joel Houston, and Brooke Fraser speak about the experience. You see, the video detailed the story of Mike's battle with an "agressive form of cancer" and how God had given him this song. He tells of how he sat at his piano and pressed record on some sort of audio capturing device as he started to worship. Never writing out chords, verses, or choruses, Guglielmucci tells of how he sang the song the whole way through as God was giving it to him. The former pastor of Planetshakers, Australia's largest youth church, Mike was invited by Hillsong Church to share his story and and his song on their live worship recording of This is Our God, which was recently released.

I was so moved by this whole experience that I was eager to share this song story with our congregation. For some reason or another I just couldn't get around to doing this, it didn't fit with our current direction and we have had some pretty unique programming in our services over the last several weeks. However, I was hoping to be able to share it and to play Healer in Collision in September. I actually had the music printed for the Worship Team to learn this week and left it laying on my desk. (Not that, that is so unusual...) I had the YouTube video posted here on my blog titled: Must See.

This morning I was perusing some worship blogs, when I discovered that, indeed, Michael Guglielmucci faked his entire illness. My initial response was anger, as I think most often is when we realize we have been taken advantage of or slighted in any way. However, once verifying that Hillsong was not involved in the scandal, my anger really turned to heartache. To top it all, every report is confirming that even the Guglielmucci family believed the illness was real, to include Michael's wife and children. I truly cannot imagine the mental anguish and torment that Michael probably lives in. I don't believe that as he was growing up in a pastor's home he plotted and schemed to become a pastor with great influence so that he could fake and illness and devastate people. I have to believe, from half way around the world, that he was motivated by a much deeper and more complicated issue than just being devious.

You read about people who, because they cannot overcome their own vices, addictions, and/or moral failures, become therapists and counselors to help others with their same struggles. It is some sort of emotional transfiguration in which a person attempts fulfillment through someone else's journey. I have to believe that many people become pastors and ministers for the same reasons- it is that mentality of, "if I can just do enough, be enough, then I can become the person I think, everyone else thinks, I should be." Some people can't get past the obvious reality that it doesn't work that way and so they live miserable lives in which they try to help others so that their struggle is eased. The truth is, there is no resolution or redemption in this path, but only more anguish.

Where I went wrong in all of this, is that I was drawn to the cute story and the emotional catch, when I should have been focused on who God is, that God is a Healer and that He is always glorified. People fail and people fall, that is what we do. However, just as we receive grace when we fall as we focus our hearts on the cross, we must focus our hearts on the cross to offer grace to others when they too fail. I began to feel that I had wasted my time praying for the healing of Michael Guglielmucci, I just couldn't see that my prayers were for his heart and his mind, not for his cancer. He and his family need our prayers now more than they ever did when everyone thought he was dying of cancer.

I say all of this to say:
1. My heart hurts for Michael Guglielmucci
2. God works despite humanity
3. Healer is still a powerful song of truth
4. We need to pray for this family and entire community
5. We must be careful not to focus on man, but on God.

I keep reading where people are dejecting the entire scandal and scathing at anything which is tied to it. I understand that perspective, but I also believe that God is bigger than Michael Guglielmucci. If you were touched by this song or this story, please don't discount what occured in your heart on account of another man's choices. God works despite our choices, doesn't he? I have seen time and time again where God was still glorified in the midst of my own darkness. I still plan to have my worship team learn this song, because I believe that He is my Healer- be it in life or death, in sickness or temptation, heartache or failure. God is a God that heals and restores, despite the choices of humanity.

Photo credit: Andrew Oskar


Robbin K. Tungett said...

I had not heard about Michael Guglielmucci until I read this post. So after reading your post, I went out on Google and read more and listened to the song.

It's a beautiful song. No matter how it came to be, it's a beautiful song that speaks to our hearts.

I believe God is always with us...whether we acknowledge Him or not. He's with us when we're living right and he's with us in the midst of our deepest, darkest sins.

Perhaps the song was inspired by God, reaching out to this man in the midst of all he was doing. He used this song to reach other people in spite of the sin and lies surrounding its creation.

Isn't that the beauty of our God? The exact reason Jesus died on the cross?

What this guy did was wrong. But was it anymore wrong than our own sins in God's eyes? Perhaps those who are so quick with the judgemental attitudes, those who are scathing at anything associated with Guglielmucci should remember what Jesus said when he stooped over and wrote in the sand...?

As Christians, we should be happy that he is headed in the right direction now. We should pray for him, pray for his family, and pray for those who will never understand forgiveness and why he should be forgiven.

We should rejoice in the song, its simple and powerful message and how it moves people and will continue to move people long after the scandal is forgotten.

Anonymous said...

All we can do is FIX OUR EYES TO JESUS...not on man.
Healer is a beautiful song, it speaks to our heart.
Michael Guglielmucci is just another man who make mistakes...and we must remember that GOD HATES SIN BUT NOT THE SINNER...

Anonymous said...

I've seen many people around the internet in danger of judgement according to the scripture. Mike repented, asked forgiveness. Also his song is true and from his heart, he did have a disease much worse than cancer which would not have been accepted by the public. Have a little compassion on the man and listen to the Word of the Lord:

Matt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

James 2:13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Risiate Biudole said...

Definitely, don't ever focus on the messenger but the message :)