Preface: Justin Townes Earle was an incredible artist. I do not want anyone to think for a second that I would say anything to disparage his memory. He had problems. We all do. He was able to temporarily overcome them, but like many, he was unable to maintain. He fell back into the addiction that took his life.
I love his music. I saw him live twice in Seattle. He was a great songwriter and guitar player. If I could play the guitar like anyone, it would be him. His music brought me through many tough times – “Slippin’ and Slidin’” being my all-time favorite.
My heart goes out to Justin’s father Steve Earle, and his widow, Jen and daughter, Etta. May God watch over them and continue to comfort them always. I pray that Justin’s music and talent will never be forgotten.
I pray for all those who suffer from addictions; that they may seek God for His help and salvation to pull them through. May they all find sobriety and faith in the one who can give the peace and comfort that drugs never can That is the Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
“I should have learned better, old enough to know,
Slippin’ and Slidin’ feelin’ low.” -Justin Townes Earle, “Slippin’ and Slidin'” 2010
Everyone has demons. We all have struggles that we must overcome. Some we might disclose to others and many that we will not. Some drink. Some do meth or heroin. Some are addicted to pornography or other immoral practices. Everyone is a born sinner, looking to fulfill their needs and curiosities. We may try something once and realize (with all thanks to God) it is not for us. Some will try something once and become hooked.
Alcohol was my drug of choice for a long time. I tried marijuana once; it was not that great. I tried edibles. That led to the single most frightening experience of my life. For three hours I was scared of my cats and mesmerized by my hands. I could not remember song lyrics. I just sat on my couch thinking I was going to die until, thankfully the “high” wore off. I would never put myself through that again.
My real struggle over the years has been with pornography. I got into it in high school and it destroyed me. It completely warped the way I think about sex and relationships. I have never told anyone about this, even the few counselors I have seen about other issues. This has been the quiet war I have been fighting to no one else’s knowledge (until now, if anyone ever happens to read this).
And recently it got the better of me again. These things do not go away overnight. They say addicts never recover. I do not know about that, but I know temptations are around us every day. We have to continually pray we do not fall into them (Matthew 26:41). I know if I let my guard down or lose focus for one minute all the work I do can go down the drain.
Humble yourselves before the LORD, and He will exalt you. -Jacob 4:10
These are not fights we can win on our own. We need God fighting for us. “Fear not,” as Moses said to the Israelites at the Sea of Suf with the Egyptians close behind them, “stand firm and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today” (Exodus 14:13). The Israelites thought they were done for at that moment, but God was with them all the while. The LORD worked salvation for the Israelites. All they had to do was believe He could, and follow His lead.
“[F]ear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10
To believe in the LORD is to put it all in His hands. Paul pleaded with God to take away the thorn in his flesh, addictions are to the addicts. Jesus told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is perfected in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). For when we are weak, then we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:100).
There is a series of videos on YouTube of a Justin Townes Earl concert that I love. It is just him and his guitar. It was what really began my love of his music and my desire to play the guitar like he did. In one video, he tells the story of how he would spend something around $1,500 a day on cocaine. He goes on to tell the audience, “I am an adult and I reserve the right to go off the rails whenever I want.” Years later I read an interview of his when his “Kids in the Street” album came out. He talked of marriage and fatherhood and sobriety. It was very encouraging. I was so happy to know he had become clean. He sounded like he was on the right path.
Then in August of 2020, I saw a news headline on, I think it was Fox News: Musicain dead at 38. And the picture was of him. I read of Justin Townes Earl’s death and I was in shock for days. Much like fans of John Lennon or Jimi Hendrix were, I imagine. I listened to his music all week and I played his songs on the piano at work for days as my tribute to him. God bless him.
“Though your sins are like crimson, they shall be like wool” -Isaiah 1:18
God can change you if you put your problems in His hands.
Humble yourselves Under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you. -1 Peter 5:6-7
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13
There is hope in trouble. When you feel at your worst, whatever it is you suffer from: addiction, depression, anxiety… God is there if you give yourself to Him. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (Jacob 4:8). He is the light in the darkness. Do not give up, keep fighting. Allow Him to help. Let Him fight for you.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3 The LORD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation. -Psalm 118:14
We slip and slide at times. Life is up and down. It can feel impossible to keep up, especially when we have the added hardship of addiction or other afflictions. There is help, and it starts with Jesus Christ. Admit your problems, confess your sins. The ears of the LORD are open to the prayers of the righteous (Psalm 34:13).
***Lord, God, please help us and be with us in our times of trial and tribulation. You, yourself said, there would be tribulation in this world, but you have overcome it. You are our strength in our time of need. When addictions and other maladies come upon us LORD, we can turn to you for help. You are our strength and our salvation, the rock on which we can stand, the shelter from the storms that poor down on us. We can not do this alone, we need your help, your Spirit always. Give us the humility to seek help when we need it, and the power to help others when we can. Shine your light, LORD, on all those with addictions, that we may see you and feel your hand upon us. These are not fights we can face alone. We need you always, LORD God. I thank you for the help and strength you have given me in my distresses and trials. Please hear our prayers, LORD, and help us, that we may give you glory and rejoice in your salvation. I thank you, LORD God. I pray this all in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.*** Photo taken by Stephen Booth, if you see this, I hope you do not mind me using it. It is a great picture. Thank you.