Faithlife Sermons

Ray Charles

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And that vindication will be sweet. Many of you remember Ray Charles, the famous African American singer who wrote the song Georgia on My Mind. In 1961, he was banned from performing in the state of Georgia because he refused to play before a segregated audience. A scene from the movie Ray captures a poignant moment in his life almost 20 years later.

As this scene opens, Ray stands with his wife and sons inside the Georgia State Capital legislative chambers. The state lawmakers are in their seats. The gallery is filled with public observers. Reporters and news photographers are crowded near the rostrum. State Senator Julian Bond, a former civil rights leader, speaks:

"Today we are here to right a wrong that was done to one of our native sons nearly 20 years ago. In 1961 Ray Charles was banned from performing in the state of Georgia because he refused to play before a segregated audience. Thankfully we've come a long way since then."

As the senator speaks, camera flashbulbs pop. Ray faces the floor wearing his signature sunglasses. A look of humility is detected on his countenance. His wife stands proudly at his side as the senator continues.

"Some of us have fought for equality through the political process, but Ray Charles changed American culture by touching people's hearts. So on this day, March 7, 1979, we, the duly elected representatives of the state of Georgia, not only proclaim "Georgia on My Mind" our official state song, we also offer Mr. Ray Charles a public apology and welcome him back home."

The assembly breaks into applause and cheers. A broad smile breaks across Ray's face as he proceeds to reach his arms around himself as if to hold himself together. He reaches over to hug his wife and gives her a kiss. The applause gives way to a standing ovation on the main floor and in the balcony. Ray holds over his head the engraved plaque that the senator read from.

Listen, one day we will enter heaven. Yes, we’ll have the battle scars and some of us will reach our arms around ourselves to hold ourselves together. And as we enter the presence of the one who died for us, I think last piece of the puzzle of faith will fall into place and we will realize that the trust we placed in Christ was worth it. Our faith will be vindicated and in that moment, only two questions will matter to us. We’ll be asking, “How much glory did my life bring to Christ?” and “How many people are here because God reached them through me?” You see, that is your destiny. Your life has meaning when you know Jesus.

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