This Saturday (March 23, 2013) is a reunion show for the band I was in for six years. As I have been preparing, most of my thoughts have been excited for the opportunity to spend time with and play music with some of my closest friends. At the same time the band days were a very painful time in my wife’s life. No one really knows her side of the Here Today story. I’m not even sure the other guys know all of it. I was very good at keeping this stuff from them until afterward. A couple of years ago I shared my testimony at a men’s retreat. I was reminded of it tonight, and thought I would post it for what it is worth.
As I look back to the time I wrote this, I was still unsure of God’s call for me. It is pretty cool to see where he has brought my family since then.
This was September of 2009 (I think)
”As long as I can remember, I have loved music. I was asked in eighth grade what I wanted to do with my life; my answer was that I wanted to be a drummer in a rock and roll band. It was a dream then that continued throughout my life. When I was in college, I had a sense that the dream might be attainable. I became a member of a band that played regularly on campus. We were a band of Christians who felt that we were called to play music in secular contexts in order to spread Christ’s love to those who are in those contexts. We all had the desire to make a career of playing music. We played churches, bars, clubs, state fairs, youth groups, camps, conferences, any place that would let us play. Very quickly for me, this dream became a passionate ambition. As I graduated from college, and got married, my number one goal in life was to pursue this dream with everything I had. I studied those who had made it in the music industry and sought to follow their example of tireless determination and sheer will to get to the top of a very competitive field. I watched every “Behind the Music”, and music documentary I could. In all those lives the trait that seemed to be what got them success was their tireless dedication to their career. It seems that every one who had “made it” had been deaf to the nay-sayers and never accepted failure. This was fuel for my ambitious goals to be a famous rock star. I was singular in my thoughts; there was nothing that was going to stand in the way of my dreams. I made all my work decisions based on my goals; and I made some really dumb work decisions based on my desire to play music.
During all this I was also serving at a local church as the worship leader, which at the time was not good enough for me. I did enjoy it, and God was at work there, but I saw it as a job more than anything. It was income, but I didn’t feel like there was enough glory in it for me, of course I wouldn’t have said it that way then.
As the band grew in popularity, and we began to play close to 50 shows in a year and travel more and more, a tension was growing in my relationship with my wife, who had never had a vision for the band life. Its not that she didn’t try, she prayed for years that God would give her a heart for the vision of the band, and it never came. Primarily because she was in the backseat in my affections and in my plans for my future. I had become a husband and a father of two, but the only thing that really mattered to me was my ambition to be a rock star. What began as a desire to pursue music as a way to bring glory to God had turned into a selfish pursuit of my own glory under the guise of “a calling to music as ministry”. I was cold to my wife’s hurt as she saw me leave time and time again to “worship” when all the while I was neglecting the amazing calling to truly worship God at home by being faithful to the main calling on my life to be a husband and a father. I was so blinded by my own selfishness that every time she would pour out her heart to me and tell me of the hurt she felt, I would turn it on her and tell her how selfish I thought she was that she wouldn’t let me follow my dreams, and pursue my passions. At its very worst, I remember thoughts of divorce so that I could play music in this “Christian” band. Talk about being blinded by my own ambition.
It was only by God’s grace that I was able to come to the decision to leave the band. Shortly after we found out that we were pregnant with our third child my wife and I had the biggest fight of our marriage. I know the kosher term may be “conflict” but honestly, this was a fight. Her pregnancy was very tough for her, so she was in a place where she was hurting physically and emotionally, consequently she was very honest about the struggle she was having and really poured her heart out about what she was going through. The kids were away for the weekend, so we were able to “work through” things long into the night. That night ended with me finally seeing that I had no choice, it was the band, or my marriage.
I will never forget the day I had to tell the guys in the band that I was quitting. I thought my life was over, and that I was going to die on the inside. I had spent 6 years chasing a dream that had turned up nothing but a crippled marriage and me without a career path. The future I had longed for was gone. It was the greatest heartbreak of my life, and the best decision I ever made. I wanted to blame someone, to look around for a scapegoat, but there was none to be found. The one responsible for the hurt in my heart and in my family was me. I had to own up to the devastation that my selfishness had caused, the collateral damage of my own self worship.
In the months that followed, God did a work in my heart for which I am so grateful. He was revealing many of the areas in my heart that contributed to my downward spiral. He also gave me a joy that I had not expected. For the first time in our marriage my wife and I were unified in our purpose, and I was beginning to learn how to make decisions based on what was best for my wife and family. I was also finding a joy that I had not known in serving the local church.
At that point, I was a father of two, soon to be three, I had no career goals. Most all of my decisions had been made based on my desires for music. I was reeling from the heartbreak of a broken dream, but hopeful of the future that was before me. I was also scared to death that I might go down the same path again.
I had several options in front of me as far as career paths. Many people in the church I was serving encouraged me to go towards ministry. However, I didn’t feel confident that leadership in that church was God’s will for me. I was also a manager at a Chick-fil-A looking into the path to get my own store. It was then that I decided to take a day for a personal retreat to spend time praying and seeking God for the next step for our lives. I spent the day sitting by a river, reading the Bible and John Piper, praying and asking God to lead me in the right direction. While I wasn’t expecting a word written in the sky telling me what to do, I did spend some time checking the clouds for designs. At the end of the day I left feeling slightly encouraged from being near to God, but things were less clear as to what I should do with my life. On the way home, I stopped by my parent’s house to say hi to my Dad. We spoke for a little while and had dinner I think. As I was leaving, I noticed a CD on the table titled “the ambitious man” it was a message by Dave Harvey talking about God wanting ambition in men, and how the balance of the ambition plays out in the life of a Christian. I grabbed the CD and popped it in on the way home. For the next hour, God ministered to my heart as I listened to a biblical perspective on ambition and how God gives us desires and intends us to use them for his glory. It was a message that I wished I had heard 7 years before. I realized that it wasn’t ambition that was the problem in my marriage; it was the selfish ambition that caused all the disorder in my life.
At that point, God began to draw our hearts to move back to Richmond where we both grew up and our families lived. We started the process to move back to Richmond. Six months later we were living in Richmond with my family, and beginning to plug into the church life at Kingsway.
In many ways we are still in the process of discerning God’s will for our life as far as my career goes, but as we move forward, it is together, knowing that my ambition must be grounded in my responsibilities as a husband and father, and move out from there. I have found a great sense of fulfillment in serving my family as the provider, my wife as a husband, and my children as a father. God has also been gracious beyond what I imagined by allowing me to serve our church on the worship team. I am so amazed that God has allowed me to use the gift of music at all; a true work of God’s restoring power. God has been so good to us to reveal my sinfulness in the area of pride and idolatry, and to give friends who care for my heart and a church who preaches the gospel. He has also blessed me with a longsuffering wife who did not leave me, but loved me and served me and cared for me, when I deserved none of that. She has been a picture of Christ’s love to me in so many ways, and I am so grateful to God for her. Most of all, I am amazed at the grace given to a sinner who was so blind and so selfish. The wrath I deserved for that selfishness was taken by Christ, which is a wonder to me.”