”I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
– Ephesians 4:1
Back in 1982, Graceland opened for public tours. It took me 29 years to finally make my pilgrimage to the hallowed grounds of rock and roll. My friend Stephen made the trip with me and it was an adventure! We were so excited about standing in Elvis’ home and seeing memorabilia that once belonged to him. It was a moving experience to visit and imagine a day in the life of Elvis Presley. As we strolled from the kitchen to the jungle room, I pictured Elvis chowing down on a peanut butter and banana sandwich. My mind’s eye allowed me to envision him playing with Lisa Marie in the floor. It felt as if I were a best friend of the king enjoying a casual visit at his mansion.
One part of the tour was located in the Meditation Garden where Elvis and some of his closest family members are buried. We stood there and pondered the life that the King of Rock and Roll had led. Before I arrived that day, the words I would have used to describe him were….handsome, talented, musical, charming, wealthy, and entertaining. In reality, these are all appropriate characteristics to attach to Elvis Presley. After all, the Elvis I saw was the suave singer. He was the entertainer that women swooned over and men wanted to imitate. Elvis Presley was a fashion icon and social butterfly. Elvis need only show up and excitement escalated to new levels. Stephen is more of an Elvis expert than I am, but I always figured I knew enough to get by. Actually, I believed I knew mostly everything worth knowing. As we walked away from Graceland, Stephen and I had both drawn the same conclusion: We didn’t really know the king at all.
Elvis was a true humanitarian—often giving away the very vehicle he was riding in at any given time. He gave countless gifts of cash, jewelry, automobiles and homes to those who were close to him. On one single day, Elvis Presley donated $40,000 to various charity organizations. This was certainly a man with more than singing on his mind. Yet, I’m almost positive that no one truly embraced this Elvis. Although he unselfishly gave to those in need, people were more concerned with the glitz and glamour of a rockin’ movie star. It’s sad and even difficult to believe that it took his death for people to honor and recognize him for things beyond his dancing and singing. Things that left as much or more of an impression as listening to hits like Love Me Tender, Hound Dog, and Jailhouse Rock. If we were to admit it, we know more of the words to his songs than anything he supported or stood for.
My experience at Graceland found me thinking about the legacy I will leave behind someday. I suppose there are the things that family and friends will never forget about me—chocolate chip cookies, loyal allegiance, honesty, sense of humor. However, do I strive each and every day to build a legacy that speaks of my love for God…His Son…His vision? I must examine my heart and determine whether I want to be known for the “me” things or the God things. And as I do that, I may find myself living out Colossians 1:10 more and more:
“Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Elvis did not hold the key to an unattainable mystery. He is not the only person to understand the revelation that we are here for a purpose greater than ourselves. While he may not have been perfect, Elvis Presley was charitable at a deeper degree than he may have ever been given credit. Today I seek to be driven by the motivation of honoring God in honest, sincere ways. I hope to realize that the last $10 I have may indeed serve someone else better than it serves me. I desire for my selfish ambitions to be blotted out and all my adoration be fixed upon loving my Lord in a tender way through pleasing acts of kindness.
“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”