Robert Johnson was a blues musician who died in 1938 at the age of 27. He was considered by many to be the most important Mississippi Delta blues singer who ever lived having mastered the language, the sound and the guitar technique of this style. He was hardly known in his day but rediscovered when an album of his music was released in 1961. What fascinates me about him are the stories linked to him.
Johnson would play on street corners for tips and tidbits. He could reproduce any song having heard it once. None of the great blues singers of his day took note of him primarily because he didn’t play blues on the street corners. No one walking by wanted to hear it. He played popular pop standards instead. Then one day…..
Out of nowhere it seemed Johnson became a blues musician and not just one of many but the best of his generation. A story was told. At midnight, Robert Johnson took his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation in rural Mississippi. There the devil appeared to him in the form of a black man. He tuned Johnson’s guitar, played a few songs and returned it. In exchange for his soul, Johnson could play the blues like no one else could play them. Since that time, others have made the visit to the crossroads at midnight, ready to trade in order to be great. So far, the devil has failed to appear…I think.
Johnson died, it is said, after drinking poisoned whiskey given to him by a jealous husband of a woman with whom he was flirting. I wonder if that was part of the deal? You will be great Robert but you won’t live long.
When I was a young man, I wanted to be great. I didn’t make a deal with the devil because he doesn’t buy souls (has no use for them) and the price is too high (pain, misery and corruption.) I had no particular thing I wanted to be great at doing, I just wanted the accolades, fame and credibility that went with greatness. I sought God about it but He didn’t answer. Now I know I was being selfish and seeking human glory. God smiled and ignored me, something He has often done with me.
The search for human glory can indeed cost a man his soul. The devil doesn’t take it because he is not the ruler of hell but it is the power of sin that overwhelms the soul. The long slide to permanent independence from God begins with a relentless search for self satisfaction, glory and arrogance and ends in the darkest and most miserable of places. It’s a bad bargain.
I think it odd that the Faustian selling of the soul is even considered plausible. Why would anyone want to do it? I’ll tell you why, in order to be GREAT!
I see. Yeah, I understand that.
Mark 8 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (NASB)