By Chaplain Jim Linzey (Ret.)
Take little Anna Mae Bullock as an example of a marvelous creation of God who was badly hurt by a small rural local church when she was a young girl. As depicted in the feature film “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, Anna Mae was the only little girl in the church choir, consisting of older teens and adults in an African-American church.
Reared in the broken home of “party girls” with the exception of her grandmother who was truly a righteous woman of God, the only music Anna Mae understood in the home was bar singing—rhythm and blues and jazz. However, her church had not embraced such cultural forms of music, but clung to pure, traditional church music.
One midweek evening, innocent and unsuspecting, little Anna Mae made her way by herself to choir rehearsal. The choir was rehearsing for Sunday’s divine worship service. While the choir was rehearsing under the direction of a formal choir director, Anna Mae sang by ear in beautiful harmony—but with rhythm and clapping. She offered up to God her gift of song the only way she knew—from the heart, but in the only musical form to which she was accustomed.
The choir director stopped rehearsal in the middle of the piece and gave Anna Mae a cold stare—then resumed directing the choir. When the choir reached a certain section of the piece, Anna Mae again diverted into the most amazing harmony, with perfect pitch, but with rhythm and clapping unto the Lord. The choir director again stopped the rehearsal in the middle of the piece, called Anna Mae out in front of the choir, looked down at her with a cold authoritative stare. Without a word, little Anna Mae broke into tears, walked down the aisle by her lonesome, and out the church doors, never to darken the doors of any church again.
Anna Mae was condemned to live her childhood outside the community of faith, because, as innocent and as pure before God as she was, she was unacceptable to the people of God. In her little mind, she felt like dirt in their eyes. In her little worldview, God hated her. It was okay for the pastor to preach, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But they judged little Anna Mae. They did not think God would accept her gift of song. The fact is that they played the role of God; they did not accept her gift of song. Confusion was in their minds as to who God was, while little Anna Mae was at peace with God insofar as she knew Him—until that evening, that awful, dreadful, dark evening of despair when she was humiliated and collapsed into tears.
Then one day, her mother and older sister abandoned little Anna Mae, leaving her with her dear grandmother. Off they fled in her mother’s pickup truck, scurrying out of the dirt driveway of their dilapidated rural house, and down the dirt road to find another life for themselves in the city. Forced to find another place to live, Anna Mae’s grandmother climbed onto her gentle, old horse, taking little Anna Mae with her, to continue their impoverished, rural, yet more wholesome, lifestyle.
Little Anna Mae was her grandmother’s gift to the Church; but she became Tina Turner and was God’s gift to the world. Though God’s “own” rejected her, she truly became a source of cultural enrichment for the world to appreciate. She truly was God’s own.
Now, years later, I have learned that Tina Turner has come full circle, singing “Amazing Grace” on an album titled Beyond ‘Love Within.’ It seems that the same Spirit that drew little Anna Mae to worship God with her gift of song so long ago has been renewed in the adult Tina Turner. Truly, from the abundance of the heart does one’s mouth sing.
Chaplain Jim Linzey (Ret.) may be contacted through www.MilitaryBibleAssociation.com.