Saturday Music – I Walk the Line

Johnny Cash’s I Walk the Line is one of most recognizable and memorable songs in American music history.  Even in 2016, this song is very much loved.

The song was written as a pledge of devotion to his wife at the time, Vivian, and launched Cash onward to stardom.  The lyrics do indeed spell out Cash’s pledge:

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day’s through
Yes, I’ll admit that I’m a fool for you
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I’ve known proves that it’s right
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

You’ve got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can’t hide
For you I know I’d even try to turn the tide
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you’re mine, I walk the line

Ironically, though, Cash’s pursuit of a music career – of which this song was a major catalyst, where he was systematically unfaithful to the object of this song, his wife Vivian.  Simultaneously, the demands of this career in music led to (or provided a fertile ground for) a major drug addiction for Cash.

It’s easy to sit back and judge Cash and say that if he had never pursed his career (or pursued it so intensely) then he would have had a successful marriage and would have avoided his addiction to pills.  Perhaps there is some truth to this, but the reality is that we all experience failure at some level no matter how we engage in life.

It’s very easy for most of us to pledge devotion.  It’s not so easy to keep our word.  But our every day failures point us back to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  There we are reminded of His grace and mercy toward us despite our failures.  In Christ, we are not instructed to “ignore the line.”  We are called to “walk it.”  We are called by Him to go and pursue and do, but He knows we will often stop and tarry and fail.  It’s in these times that we remember that our doing doesn’t save us and our doing doesn’t keep us.  We are reminded of a faithful God who saves us and keep us.

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