In 1967, Johnny Cash’s new producer made it a priority to first help Cash define his artistic vision, and then enable him to realize it. When Cash broached the idea of recording a live prison album, the producer immediately picked up the phone and set up two performances at Folsom.
Despite less-than-perfect conditions for recording, the event became one of the most storied performances in music history. Cash took control of the room as soon as he opened the show with the greeting, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”—which subsequently became his signature line. Then, appropriately, he launched into “Folsom Prison Blues,” and the place went nuts. Throughout the seventeen songs that followed, each interspersed with raw, rowdy humor, authentic banter and fun novelty tunes, the captive audience cheered as if everyone in it were getting a pardon.
Today the album At Folsom Prison is revered as a classic—arguably one of the greatest country albums of all time—and considered a landmark work in music history.
The whole project was a classic illustration of a verse that Johnny knew well. It’s Romans 8:28, which promises that God “will cause all things to work together for good to those that love Him.” For all of Johnny’s bad choices and run-ins with the law, it caused him to have empathy for others who had done the same.
There are many who have never darkened the doorway of a prison facility but may be in a prison of some other kind—a cell of loneliness, isolation, addiction or despondency. And Johnny Cash, with his life experience and its ups and downs, connected with them.
1. Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)
Do you find when you build up, serve, or give out to others, you are blessed in return?
2. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3–4)
Johnny was able to comfort and encourage the inmates with his music because he connected and identified with them. Who can you minister to with the same comfort you have been comforted by?
3. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
How are you at serving others? What are some practical ways you can serve the Lord wholeheartedly?
Did you pray with Pastor Greg?
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