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