“I’m somebody ‘cause God don’t make no junk.”
Ethel Waters, 1896-1977
Stories abound that tell of, not just rags to riches, but from being a nobody to being somebody, from living in abject poverty to luxuriating in God’s bountiful love. So many books tell this tale of extravagant transformation, thrilling the reader, inspiring hope, birthing dreams. The sheer joy of hearing of so many lives having lived this is that they are not polished speakers, slick salespeople. They are simple, unassuming folk, filled with the fullness of living a changed life, of participating in circumstances they would never have imagined possible previously.
I’m always rooting for the underdog, glad when the big upset happens, and for once, the sun shines on the least likely. You never see, in high school yearbooks, a category for ‘The Least Likely to Succeed.’ It’s always the opposite. No one sings the praises of the ones with the most obstacles to overcome, the ones with family barriers to cross, the ones with academic weaknesses, the ones who don’t fit in with the ‘beautiful people,’ the ones who might be considered the ‘junk’ of society.
Ethel Waters’ story may never have been known except for her incredible, untrained, soulful, alto voice heard by someone with influence. She eventually made her way from Baltimore vaudeville clubs all the way to Broadway, television and film. Well known for singing blues and jazz with her signature slow and sultry vibrato, she was much in demand. One of her last ‘stages’ was with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusade. Her quote, above, is her confident testimony of God’s goodness in her life.
Of course, her brief statement lines up well with Scripture. At Creation’s Day Six, and the creation of man, God declared this aspect of His work to be ‘very good.’ In Psalm 139, David declares: “Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing to something.” Ps. 139; 14,15 The MESSAGE. Finally, Peter declares: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” 1 Peter 2:9,10 The MESSAGE. Peter might have said something about our shining the light of the Gospel (he was saying it – just with different words like Ethel did.) Take a few minutes to listen to this recording of her singing, from 1975, just two years before her death. If you ain’t singin’ by the end, honey, you just weren’t payin’ attention. 😊 PD