by C. Richard McCaw – Article July 2018

Since the enemy of our souls is skillful at trying to draw us away from full commitment to Jesus Christ, we must carefully consider distractions he uses to turn us away from the purposes God intended for us. Consider people whom God had greatly gifted, whose life could have influenced thousands for Christ, but who were sidetracked by the devil.

Isaac Newton (1642–1727), the most famous mathematician of the 17th Century, made many scientific discoveries we take for granted today such as the “corrected” Gregorian calendar date. His greatest discovery was the gravitational relationship between the earth and the moon and of centrifugal force. He suffered from several “nervous breakdowns” and became greatly enraged towards anyone who disagreed with him. From this account it may be seen that although he firmly believed that God was Creator of all, Newton was distracted by the exalted view he held of his own opinions. Even as a scientist, he could have turned many to Christ!

Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962), probably the most celebrated of all actresses, was born Norma Jeane Mortenson. Prior to her birth, her father abandoned the family, so she grew up uncertain of who her father really was. Her mentally ill mother abandoned her to foster homes, so that during her adolescence she was in and out of orphanages. As she watched the movies, she craved the attention lavished on screen stars like Lana Turner or Jean Harlow. Soon she became a successful model, then turned to seriously studying in an Actor’s Studio in Hollywood.

At 16 she had an arranged marriage with a neighbor, Jim Dougherty, who entered the military, When he returned home, they were divorced in 1946. At 22, 20th century Fox contracted her and in 1953 with her breathy voice and hourglass figure, despite her chronic insecurities regarding her acting abilities and her pre-performance anxiety, the film “Gentlemen prefer Blondes” launched Monroe as an international sex symbol superstar.

That same year she married and divorced baseball great Joe DiMaggio, a marriage that only lasted nine months. In 1956 she married playwright, Arthur Miller. While making a film in England she began to use alcohol and pills. She often expressed wishes to give up and die and in fact attempted suicide more than once.

On August 5, 1962, she made desperate calls to all who would listen to her, both friends and lovers. However, Marilyn died sometime between 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm. The coroner stated that she had died mysteriously from a drug overdose of acute barbiturate poisoning and it was a probable suicide at age 36. Her personal physician “felt it was possible that Marilyn Monroe had felt rejected by some of the people she had been close to.”

Today Marilyn Monroe is still remembered for her romantic relationships with Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Yves Montand and director Elia Kazan, and people still look up to her, wanting to be like her.

From this account we learn that fame and glory can distract us from the purpose God planted within us when He endowed us with gifts meant to glorify Him.
Whitney Houston (1963-2012) was raised a Baptist, but was also exposed to the Pentecostal church. At the age of 11, she became soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, her first performance being “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah!” But soon the music of Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight  and Roberta Flack, became an influence on her as a singer and performer.

In her teenage years she toured nightclubs where her mother was performing and sometimes performed with her. At age 14, she began as a backup singer on albums by well known singers. Then in the early 1980s, Houston worked as a fashion model, became one of the first women of color on the cover of Seventeen, was featured in Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Young Miss and in a Canada Dry soft drink TV commercial. She embarked on her world tour, Greatest Love Tour in 1985–1986.

Several years later, Houston admitted using cocaine and other drugs with former husband Bobby Brown, who “laced marijuana with rock cocaine.” By 1996, she told Oprah Winfrey “drugs were an everyday thing. I wasn’t happy by that point in time. I was losing myself.” In May 2011, Houston enrolled in a rehabilitation center again, as an outpatient, citing drug and alcohol problems.

On February 11, 2012, the eve of the Grammy Awards, Houston was found unconscious in suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub in Los Angeles, and was later announced dead. The amount of cocaine found in her body revealed the use of the substance shortly before her death. Toxicology results revealed “a plethora of prescriptions” …12 bottles, prescribed by five different doctors, had been littered across her hotel room. The 48-year-old singer had ingested a cocktail of cocaine and prescription drugs before her final breath. Among drugs discovered were the anti-anxiety medication, Xanax and the muscle relaxant, Flexeril.

Let us take note of the principles that the above world-famous people laid aside to fulfill their own dreams.

Firstly, each had great talent, but were distracted by the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, of which John, the apostle, warns every true believer. Secondly, God does not call us to follow Him, only to be placed second on our list of priorities.

Jesus told His disciples, “Follow Me.” One said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” God expects to be loved above every human relationship, event, or material possession.
God’s plan for the natural as well as the spiritual world is clear: He must hold the highest place in our hearts! Paul, the apostle wrote to Galatian believers, that “he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”