"God, I don't know if this is a good attitude to have or not, but I think that I am finished with what Christians think. I don't think it really matters. I know this is true. I just haven't been able to completely embrace it. All that matters is what You think of me. So please help me get this through my head." Larry Norman, legendary Christian rock and roll singer/songwriter, prayed this prayer in response to the gossip and criticism he has endured throughout his career.
Norman became a Christian in 1952 at the age of five, when an evangelist came through his hometown. "I went to his meeting and really understood what he said," remembered Norman. "I didn't understand what was going on in my church. I grew up in kind of a negative church with a very condemning attitude, very legalistic. This evangelist preached the gospel that just opened my heart, opened my eyes. So I went forward. In fact, I was the only person who went forward."
In 1956, he began performing publicly, and ten years later he accepted a recording contract with Capitol Records, where he began his career as a Christian rock artist. Since then, he has recorded fifty-four albums and owns a record label, management company, booking agency, and publishing company. Norman also had taken the responsibility of helping musicians, like Randy Stonehill and Daniel Amos, write and record songs. Larry Norman is perhaps most famous for his song "I Wish We'd All Been Ready," which also has been made popular by Christian rock group DC Talk.
In spite of his apparent success as a musician, Norman encountered much criticism and persecution from the Christian media. He began recording contemporary Christian music at a time when the church was still very legalistic about the style of music that was considered "Christian," which at the time, was hymns and southern gospel music. Norman enjoyed writing music that was church music, but his influences were from the black gospel style. "I grew up in a black neighborhood, and when a white person tried to sing black music, people assumed it was rock and roll," he said.
It was not until the 1970's that the church began to accept Larry Norman. "From 1956 to 1971, I was constantly attacked by Christians who said I was a tool of Satan," he remembered. At first, the Christian bookstores banned his music. "There are artists who have told their audiences that I'm not a Christian, that I take drugs. It's insane! I can't even imagine why they could say that. They know me, and they know, or they have reason to know it's not true, because I've never exhibited this kind of behavior."
One night, Larry Norman decided to let go of all the hurt he endured throughout his career, and allow God to bear his burden. "I'd had a lot of symptoms of anxiety from all the abuse I've taken from people...What's really strange-and wouldn't you know it, this is exactly what God is like-the minute I prayed that prayer to God and went to sleep, I woke up healed the next day."
Since that night, Norman said that his life has been changed. Not only has his peace of mind been restored, but also the church has begun to embrace Larry Norman as a genuine Christian musician. Recently, one of the magazines that has shown him opposition for years asked Norman to write a book. He said, "How could I imagine that? How could that be possible? They've only showed me hatred and abuse. Now they like me. How did that happen? I don't know...[It's] the power of the Holy Spirit. It's God, not me. I would just say that's my message to this generation: pray and believe and wait. God will take care of you. If there's injustice, God will make it right. You just need to rest in the Lord."
Currently, Larry Norman is focusing his career on evangelism. "I want to take as many people with me as I can," he said. "That's what they always say in the war movies, right? Go out there and try to take as many people with you as you can. But I don't want to kill them. I want to bring them to life. I want people to become Christians."
Throughout his life, Norman has made it his mission to reach as many people for Christ as he could. He began witnessing when he was five years old. His father used to spend time in prisons, hospitals, and on the streets, talking to people about Christ. Seeing his father's example, it became very natural for Norman to witness to people about his faith.
"Basically, music is something that's very much on the side, and the gospel is very much in the center," he said. "I love telling people about Jesus, and I still talk on the street. I talk in restaurants. I talk to whomever God leads me to, and I think if God leads you to talk to somebody, there will be results...Walk with Christ. Pray constantly. Do what He lays in front of you with all your heart and your soul and your strength. Be obedient. Be listening to God. It's not easy! You have to die to self to be able to begin to hear God. Then, whatever God tells you to do, have no fear. Do it, even if it's illogical."
Recently, Larry Norman released his new album called "Tourniquet." His new album can be found only at larrynorman.com. He said, "Tourniquet is something you put on your arm or your leg and you twist it to stop bleeding. We're wounded in life, but God applies a tourniquet to save us so all our wounds can heal. Also, the tourniquet twists and binds and hurts. Sometimes enemies will try and bind you and hurt you. Situations will be like a tourniquet. You'll feel caught, trapped, but God can provide a way of escape so you will be able to endure it."