When I was in ninth grade, my mom signed me up to go on a Disciple Now retreat at our church. A Disciple Now is a weekend event that usually consists of groups of about ten kids staying in area homes and eating as much junk food as humanly possible, while simultaneously trying not to be the first to fall asleep and get pranked with toothpaste or something worse.
Each house had a counselor who taught us Bible studies and made sure we didn’t burn the place down. Over the course of the weekend he pulled each of us aside and asked us about our spiritual lives. He also asked what kind of music we liked to listen to.
I’ve always loved music and at this point in my life I was on a grunge-only diet of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, so when he started telling me about Christian music I was very skeptical about it (it didn’t help that the worship leader for the weekend was playing a pink electric guitar). He told me that Christian music was not only as good as “secular” music, but that it also had encouraging lyrics that weren’t depressing like a lot of the bands I was listening to. It might sound dramatic but the rest of my life was literally changed from that conversation.
Soon after that I fell in love with bands like dc Talk, Switchfoot and Jars of Clay. I memorized the lyrics, went to the concerts and joined the fan clubs. And it wasn’t just the music that I liked. It was the mystery in the depth of the lyrics. It made me want to know more about Jesus because of the passion with which these people sang about Him.
It was around this time that I started writing songs. I had been playing guitar for a few years and had written a couple of pretty bad love songs but nothing about spiritual things. I played in a couple of bands in high school and by the time I went off to college I was on a mission to start a real band.
In my second year at Baylor University I met three of my closest friends and we formed a band called Addison Road. That was ten years ago and it’s amazing now to look back on the journey that God has generously enabled me to enjoy. We got signed to a major record label, toured the world with bands like MercyMe and Tenth Avenue North and sold hundreds of thousands of albums. I was even privileged enough to have written many of the songs that ended up getting played on the radio.
Last month, after 10 years of heavy traveling and touring, I decided to leave the band in order to spend more time with my family. My wife, my baby girl Lila and I are so happy to be able to be home together and not be separated by traveling all the time.
I was given the chance to pursue my dream of playing music, and I did it. Now I feel like God has given me a new dream–the chance to see my family every day while also having a job that involves all the things I love. I am in my first week working as Faith and Culture Editor here at FaithVillage, and I feel more blessed than anyone should.
God changed my life from a simple conversation I had with a guy fifteen years ago about Christian music, and I am so grateful for the journey. Never underestimate the power of God to use you in everyday conversations. You never know what He might do . . .
Originally posted July 21, 2011.