Tough Choices

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot

Eric dedicated his life to becoming one of the greatest soloists the world had ever known. Already at the age of four, his mother started him on voice lessons having recognized his musical talent. It was tough times back then during the great depression and when Eric was just six, his father died leaving a widow with five young children. At this tender age, Eric began to work to help support the family.

He continued his voice lessons and sang in public performances in a variety of venues including recitals, school, church, community and private settings. World War II broke out during his senior year of high school. After graduation he enlisted and became a pilot in the Army Air Corps. Though the war interrupted his formal music training, he sang and entertained his fellow troops whenever he could find an audience.

Following the war, he enrolled in the Kansas City Conservatory of Music and completed his studies as a vocalist. While there, he founded and ran his own radio program in order to exercise and leverage his talents. By now, he was an accomplished baritone soloist, coached by one of the best voice trainers from Europe. Eric was told that such a voice as his came only once in a generation! In addition to his musical ability, Eric had a natural talent for acting and a great sense of humor.

With Eric’s list of talents and great potential, he was invited to New York City to become a protégé of composer Sigmund Romberg to get his start in “show-business.” Over the next five years, Eric experienced a wild ride up the ladder to stardom. He hobnobbed with stars like Robert Goulette, Jack Paar, and Audrey Hepburn. He was offered a contract with one of the Gabor sisters to perform a nightclub set throughout the country and he performed in the Metropolitan Opera with Jerome Hines.

His wife had been a great support to him and had sacrificed much to help him attain his goals. But one evening as Eric returned home from work to his wife and three little boys, she calmly explained to him that she could no longer endure living in New York. The high crime, rampant use of drugs, apprehension for the safety of their children and the culture itself were more than she could continue to bear.

Though it is uncertain, some believe that she had personally either been threatened or stalked as well. She also had serious concerns about the extent to which his career would take him away from the family and often into very worldly environments.

In fact, she had become so resolute about leaving New York, that she had asked her parents to wire her the money for a move. She explained to Eric in tears, that she needed to leave immediately. She had already packed their meager belongings.
That night, Eric was faced with a life-changing decision either to love, honor and cherish his wife and children, or continue to pursue his budding career. With little time for reflection, he chose his wife and children and never looked back. He simply saw this decision as a decision to follow Christ in being a godly husband and father – and that was a “no-brainer”. They packed their things into the car the same evening and left New York and his career as a world-class soloist.

What is most admirable about his decision is that Eric never, ever held his wife responsible for sacrificing his career. In fact, his sacrifice for his wife only served to increase her value to him and his love for her. Eric remained deeply in love with his wife until her death.

On the one hand, few of us are ever called upon to make a choice of the magnitude that Eric made. On the other hand, all of us face mini-choices every day between pursuing things that deter or distract from Christ and following him resolutely. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we secretly mistrust God, suspecting that he is withholding something good from us. 

“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32 
Written by Rob Fischer
© 2005 ChangePoint