“It’s okay to head out to Wonderful, but on your way to Wonderful, you’re going to have pass through Alright. When you get to Alright, take a good look around and get used to it cause that may be as far as you are gonna go.”, Bill Withers, musician.
Being a music lover, I enjoy watching and reading biographies about people who can play, sing and write great music. Bill Withers is a favorite, responsible for such songs as ‘Ain’t no Sunshine’, ‘Use Me’ and ‘Lean on Me’. This man gained fame and fortune very quickly and although a long profitable career was in his fingers, he walked away from corporate control and simply left the scene rather than relax his creative talent and become a mainstream music puppet.
When I first heard this quote, which Bill gave to his children, I thought that that was easy to tell someone else after you had made it to wonderful. Then I let it sink in for a minute and realized that the real issue was being happy wherever you are and to live and prosper in that situation.
As Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV:
always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
While I have no insight into Mr. Withers spiritual beliefs, the words he wrote and the words Paul wrote both resonate the same idea. Our Father God will surround us wherever we land. Just let Him have control and be at peace, you are right where God wants you to be.
That’s either easy to accept or very hard to swallow, depending on where we’ve landed. Having the advantage of years largely behind me, I can honestly say that some of the best parts of my life occurred at a time when money was short, cars were broken and the place we lived was less than desirable. Suzanne and I met as unemployed, mostly moneyless and wanting for things as small as our own TV. She lived with her sister and I was painting the place my parents had just vacated in exchange for an apartment. My car was an Oldsmobile Land Yacht that ran great until you needed second gear or reverse. The fact that Suzanne’s sister had lake access and a dock meant that we could swim all summer long since it was free. We were in love and that was enough.
As the years went by, we worked our way from several low rent trailers until we could finally buy our first house for the grand sum of $25,000. We were on our way. We had a house with no air conditioning, one bathroom and giant cave crickets. Finally getting a couple of cars that ran sometimes and were accumulating debt as quick as we could. Looking back, the farther we went up the successful American Dream ladder, the less the small things mattered to us. We needed more. And we got it, more stuff, more debt, more fighting, less satisfaction.
The problem we had was that on our way to wonderful, when we got to alright we forgot to just be happy with where we were. This story is cookie cutter for most people today, we search and fight to get to that place called wonderful. Sadly most of us miss out on being satisfied with alright. God does not promise wealth, prosperity or things, God promises that whether times are good or bad, He is there! Our Father loves us and His grace has been showered on us, even and especially when our outlook is cloudy.
Take a look around at alright, thank The Father for being there, you may find that you found wonderful. What made Bill Withers shine to me was that he was always happy to be in alright, in that way, he found his wonderful. As Christians, we have wonderful sewn up, it is our promise, our birthright as children of God. At the risk of sounding corny, in the words of Bobby Mcferrin, musician, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’.