Why me, Lord

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This past Sunday, I chose to sing a song that is a favorite of mine. It is the Kris Kristofferson song, Why Me, Lord. I had never read the story of Kristofferson’s state of mind when he wrote the song.

I’ve always liked the words of songs and no one wrote better songs than Kris Kristofferson in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Many of the classics of country music were his. For the Good Times, Help Me Make It through the Night, and the crossover, popular hit of Janis Joplin, Me and Bobby McGee are just three from his prolific pen.

When I sing at various places, like nursing homes and other churches, one of the songs that just about everyone sings along to is One Day at a Time. Whose name is listed as a co-writer? Kris Kristofferson.

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His 80 years of life are chocked-full of interesting roads. He was a Rhodes Scholar, no pun intended. He was an army captain and ranger, a Golden Gloves boxer. He was born into a military family and his parents wanted him to stay in the army and, when he disappointed them and turned to songwriting, they disowned him!

He’s worked as a part-time bartender, a janitor for $58 dollars a week, and starred in movies with Jane Fonda for a million dollars. How’s that for going from one end of the ladder to the other. He’s been on top of the world, but once wrote a song entitled From the Bottle to the Bottom.

Kris doesn’t mind the bottom of the barrel and has a good philosophy about the ups and downs of life. He says this about going from the penthouse to the outhouse. “The beauty of dropping to the bottom is that it wipes the slate clean.”

The song Why Me, Lord is about one of those times when Kristofferson was in the spiritual bottom of the barrel and the Lord lifted him up.

Another great poet, David of the Psalms, put it like this: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” How many of us can say “Been there, done that!”

Kristofferson had helped with a Dottie West fundraiser one Saturday night and was asked by country singer Connie Smith to attend church the next day. Kris admits that he was not a church-goer, but he said yes. Who can turn down an invitation from Connie Smith?

The church was Evangel Temple in Nashville and the pastor was Jimmie Snow, the son of I’ve Been Everywhere Hank Snow. It’s known as the Church of Country Music Stars and that particular Sunday featured a song by Larry Gatlin.

The song Help Me touched Kris and, after Pastor Snow preached, he asked a familiar question for churches, “Does anyone feel lost?”

Kristofferson said he was not aware of his hand going up, but it did. All whose hands were raised were asked to come forward and kneel at the altar. Again Kristofferson said that he had no idea why his legs were moving, but he went to the altar.

His story is not even close to being unique. At the altar Kristofferson felt a release of all his guilt. He arose a different man and the song Why Me is a result.

Isn’t God great? It doesn’t matter if one is a world-renowned songwriter and star or if one has not a penny to his name, a trip to the altar can be the same. It’s called amazing grace.