The song “My Way” hit the charts in April of 1969 and stayed in the top 40 for 75 weeks, until September of 1971. Paul Anka wrote it specifically for Frank Sinatra whose beautiful voice made it an instant classic. The song tells the story of a person at the end of their career talking about all that happened and proudly proclaiming, “I did it my way.” When people think of Frank Sinatra, they think of this song. Interestingly enough, according to his daughter Tina, he grew to hate the song. She described his reaction by saying, “That song stuck and he couldn’t get it off his shoe. He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent.” (according to a BBC article)
I think that song struck a chord with most people because we want to do things our own way. We don’t want other people, bosses, or the government telling us what to do and how to do it. We want to do things our own way. We’re stubborn like that, aren’t we? While there are a lot of good things to be said about having an independent spirit, we often take that same attitude with God. We want to do things our own way. We don’t even want to consider that God should have a say in our activities. Without a godly basis for what we do, we run into trouble. Isaiah listed a series of woes for the Israelites, the most famous of which is found in verse 5:20. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)
The whole passage in Isaiah reeks with this attitude of a self-indulgent lifestyle that either leaves God out of consideration or sees anything related to Him as an inconvenience. People either have “no regard for the Lord” (12) or they view God as slowing them down (19). The passage finally climaxes in verse 20 with a terribly damning statement: people are calling evil good, and good evil. It is an accusation that flies through the air and slaps us in the face when we look at our society today. We are forced to look at all the woes in this passage and we see people using self-indulgence and wealth to isolate themselves back then, and look at our gated communities today. We see a couple of instances where that partying spirit leads to all kinds of issues with drinking and an inability to do what’s needed back then, and look at our society today, shaking our heads. We think ourselves clever because we think we know better than God. Imagine a society that looks at the principles of God in Scripture and calls followers of Christ evil for desiring to live by those principles. We are living that today.
The cure for these woes in Isaiah’s time was for people to repent and get right with God. The cure for our society today is much the same. We are to seek out the grace and mercy of God and get right with Him. That doesn’t happen when society does it though; that happens when individual people are transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ and start living His way because of His grace. We can’t judge society with condemning words, although I just did a bit of that as a wakeup call; we judge society by living lives devoted to following God and His ways. It is when our lives are at odds with the world, and people see that we have joy in Christ, that we draw people to God. It is when we love those who are calling us evil for following the good ways of God that we open doors of communication that may lead people to Christ. The song “My Way” was a hit for a long time and is still popular with people today because it strikes a chord in a defiant, rebellious populace. May our lives and our love lead people out of a self-serving and self-indulgent lifestyle into the loving arms of Christ.
Lord God, for too long I did it my way. I tried to ignore You. I tried to indulge my desires with no thoughts of others. Thank You for Your grace that forgave me. Let me show that grace to others.