Four lessons from Michael Jackson’s This Is It

One of my fondest memories of college life involves my own dirty laundry. I’ll never forget doing laundry in the basement of Holloway Hall, the dormitory I called home at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Between loads, I’d sprint to the break room to catch Michael Jackson’s Thriller video on the big, bulky TV. The synchronized dance sequences left this wannabe entertainer mesmerized.

Over the years, I became less thrilled with the King of Pop and more enthralled with the King of Kings. Then recently, the Facebook chatter about Jackson’s This Is It DVD piqued my curiosity, so I rented the video for a buck from a big red box. While watching the DVD of Jackson et al. preparing for the This Is It tour prior to his death, I was surprised and thrilled that the Creator of the galaxies instilled in me a new lens for viewing the pop star in a fresh light, dirty laundry excluded.

Looking through it, I learned a few things about life, love and my own relationship with God.

With L-O-V-E
In This Is It, each time Jackson gives directions to the cast and crew, he ends his mild-mannered remarks by saying, “with love.” It would go something like this: “I think we should have the lights this way and the dancers should be over here … with love … L-O-V-E … love.” Love, love, love – there’s a lot of love spoken on that rehearsal stage.

I wonder, at my own stage in life, what my own tone sounds like when I correct or give direction to my young son. How do I respond to his not-so-pleasant behavior? Are my words wrapped in love?

Could I sprinkle a little more love on my directions to him? While watching Jackson, I realized that my voice often has a tone of disgust and irritation when my little man misbehaves. Where’s the love in my voice for that miracle child?

“May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Humble thoughts
The DVD includes candid conversations between Jackson and other musicians. In one heart-to-heart exchange, Jackson speaks to an artist about the importance of being humble.

“We have to be humble,” he says with a tender voice. “We don’t want God to take our gift away. …

We can use our gift [from God] to help others figure out their gift.”

I wondered about my own spirit. Could I be more humble? And what am I doing to protect the gifts God has given me, and further, how am I using my gifts to spur on others? Those three short phrases from Jackson got me thinking.

“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. … If it is serving, let him serve; it if is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12: 6-8).

More than we can ask for
My favorite part of the This Is It DVD is the extras on the disc. There’s a segment that offers a fascinating look at the costumes created for the tour. You don’t have to be a fashionista to appreciate the tremendous creative process featured here. It shows a divine collision of haute couture, hi-tech illumination and futuristic architecture.

In one segment, Zaldy, the one-name costume designer, explains the creative process behind constructing each garment – why he selects certain colors and fabrics, how crucial it is for the costume to fit and move properly for the choreography, and the need for it to transition easily into the next costume. Zaldy recalls showing Jackson a particular jacket for the tour. He said Jackson just looked blank and didn’t say a thing. The designer didn’t know what to think. Then Michael finally said, with awe and amazement, “It’s what I’ve always wanted.”

With those costumes, Zaldy gave Jackson more than he had ever hoped for. I felt like that about God when He gave me a child after years of thinking that I’d never be a mom. As Christians, our God, the architect of the entire universe, is more than able to accomplish tremendous things in our lives.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20).

Tell me, do you know Him?
While watching the audition portion of the DVD, my heart broke for the talented dancers who carried a dream in their heart to obtain the ultimate gig: sharing the stage with a mega-superstar.

They were so elated to be chosen. Then, to think their dreams were cut short when Michael Jackson died unexpectedly. Viewers get a sense that each dancer felt he or she was changed forever, even after working with the King of Pop for only a brief time.

I began to reflect on the promise we believers can hold on to. Because of our relationship with the King of Kings, we are not only changed forever; our lives are transformed forever, and we have the promise of eternal life with the Lord of all.

My favorite verse is, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Some knew Michael and had a chance to be close to him. Everyone can know God, and all can draw close to Him. Few might enjoy an inheritance from Jackson’s fortune. All who invite Christ into their hearts are heirs of The King, and have the security of a heavenly inheritance.

The point is, this isn’t it. There’s more. And believers can look forward to the day when dirty laundry has been cleaned for good and thrown as far as the east is from the west. No more tears and no more heartbreak. And rather than looking at the man in the mirror, we will look into the face of the One who created man. We can bank on the promises of God, because He loved us first. After all, this is it. It’s all about love, love, love.
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