Some time ago I went to see the last Rocky movie. I've been a fan of these films for years, and I was so excited to see a new chapter. The movie was excellent. The ending was not what I expected, though it was a fitting ending for the character. But the purpose of my writing this column is not a review of the movie, but rather some thoughts on our lives that were triggered by the movie's storyline.
In the last movie of the Rocky series, Rocky finds himself in a totally different life than the one he knew before. He owns a restaurant and he spends his time there telling stories about his glory days. He is older, most of the people he loved are gone, and he seems to spend a lot of time looking back. In fact, at one point Paulie tells him that he is "living backward". That one line really stuck with me, and it really hit home with me.
I can't help but wonder how many of us look back and think about the way things used to be. How many of us may feel that the glory days are behind them, that they are now just biding time until the end? Maybe we don't have a special person in our life, and we're lonely. We may remember a time when it wasn't that way, and "live backward" in those memories. Maybe we aren't as successful as we thought we would be, and we "live backward" to a time when we made more money or had nicer things.
I have to admit that many times I've longed for what I've called the "glory days of Southern Gospel." There are days that I'd give anything to see Kenny Hinson walk out on stage one more time and start to sing in that wonderful voice of his, or to hear Jake Hess and George Younce singing God's praises again. But I've realized recently that I've spent so much time looking back at the Southern Gospel that used to be that I've missed some great things about the Southern Gospel that is. That, my friends, is a disservice to the many people who are still singing great Southern Gospel music. People like the McKameys, the Harris Family, the Revelators and many others too numerous to mention are working their tails off to bring great music and ministry to listeners around the world.
Here at the Gospel Music Times we report news about those who are well-known in the industry - but our ministry is one of trying to help those who may not be so well known by introducing you, the listener, to their ministry and music. They may not have huge marketing firms behind them or have an expensive radio promoter at their beck and call, but they are the real deal. You would do well to support these "weekend warriors" either financially or through an encouraging word or two. I guarantee that you will be blessed.
Many have asked why our chart contains artists or groups who are not nationally known. Since our chart is 100% fan-voted, currently the only one in the Southern Gospel industry, fans are given a place on the ballot to "write in" their favorite song if they don't see it on the ballot. When a song is "written in" a certain number of times we add it to the ballot so others can vote on it if they like. I'm consistently amazed at how some of the votes for lesser-known groups and/or artists will be more than the well-known folk. But, it's based on what you, the listener, wants to hear. If Southern Gospel radio is smart, they will take notice and play more of what the fans want to hear.
The apostle Paul wrote "forgetting those things which are behind, I press forward to the mark." For me, I'll always remember fondly those artists of days gone by, but I've decided to live forward rather than backward in today's Southern Gospel music. It is so easy to get caught up in the trap of living in our memories that we fail to see what is available now.
Who knows? In a few years, we may be looking back at this time wishing we could relive the memories from now.
What do you think? I'd like to know!