“I remember waking up to sunlight pouring through the window and hearing a voice speak the words to me “My Love Will Sustain You”. This was one of the most powerful faith- building and humbling moments in my life and it came at one of my lowest moments.”
After several attempts at starting a new album, burning through all the money I had saved up and disappointing some friends and colleagues in the music industry, I set off for Nashville with little more than a prayer. At that time, I was getting married in under a month and the pressure to produce something for all the time and effort I had devoted to getting a new album finished was mounting quickly.
In an effort to get my music career back on track my manager had scheduled a performance for me in Nashville that some record labels were coming out to watch. After years of touring, countless hours of writing, practicing and several attempts to get back in the studio, I was convinced this was my final opportunity to make something happen. If everything did not go perfectly, I was set to throw in the towel.
Recently, friends and family had supported me in a failed attempt to raise money through a crowd-funding website, my family had just been through some very traumatic times due to the failing health of an immediate family member, and I was beginning to wonder if hard work and prayer even meant anything anymore in this life.
When things are not going exactly the way we planned it can be easy to get focused so acutely on what we feel is negative, and we can lose sight of the bigger picture. Despite some of the challenges we were facing at the time there were also many blessings and answered prayers.
Against all odds my Father had recently survived his third open heart surgery in under two years and was recovering well, our wedding plans were coming together and family and friends were coming out of the woodwork to help us get through our struggles. I am ashamed to say it but at that time, my prayers and time with God had become less about thanksgiving and praise and more about complaining and acting like a victim.
With everything going on at that time in my life the date to leave for Nashville had snuck up on me. I still felt strongly about going to perform at the showcase but I also knew that I was depleting even more or our limited resources in doing so. The thought of coming home empty-handed was a devastating one, but I had made the commitment to go, so now it was all about making the best of the situation.
Several other singer/songwriters were performing at the showcase we had booked, and since it was my night I was responsible for getting everyone set and ready to go. As usual some of the musicians showed up late and then we started having sound issues. As a result I didn’t have any time to spend with the label representatives prior to the show. By the time I got up to perform I was so preoccupied that I couldn’t get into my set and connect with the audience, I was forgetting my own songs and I delivered one of the worst performances of my career.
After a very brief discussion with the label reps and a defeated, “Thanks for coming out”, we parted ways and I left the venue in a cloud of despair. I do not think that I have beat myself up more at any point in my life. I ignored all the incoming calls from my fiancé and other loved ones who were excited to hear how the show went. I started having severe chest pains and I could feel my heart beating in my throat and could hear it in my ears. I didn’t sleep much that night. I tried to find something positive to think about but all I could do was tell myself what a failure I was and how all my efforts would always end in defeat. Finally, at about 7am I drifted off for only about a half hour.
That is when I remember waking up to sunlight pouring through the window and hearing a clear voice speak the words to me “My Love Will Sustain You”. This was one of the most powerful faith-building and humbling moments in my life and it came at one of my lowest moments.
I cried my eyes out that morning because I was ashamed of how I had been acting. I had forgotten why music has always meant so much to me in the first place. It’s about faith, bringing people together, expressing the depths of the soul that need to get out and thanksgiving to the Lord. It was never about me before and now I had made it that way. Music is a God-given gift that has saved my life, given me purpose and direction and serves as a means to reach people. After hearing that voice, memories flooded my mind of all the people that have supported me over the years through encouragement, financial support, time, attention and trust. I remembered opening up my first guitar that was under the Christmas tree at a time when my family probably couldn’t afford to get me one but they did. I remembered the voice of a friend calling me at 4am and telling me “Don’t give up Jon” when I was driving out to California from Illinois. I wasn’t there in Nashville for me, I was there representing my beliefs as a follower of Christ and his gospel and of all the great people who got me this far. How did I veer so far off the path?
The grace of God woke me up that day. Those words, “My love will sustain you” will always remind me of the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and what he sacrificed for us, that we may be forgiven of our sins and live abundantly. Grace is there for all of us, it is the undying, unmoving, undeserved love of our creator who wants the best for us and our lives even though it may not appear that way in our own view sometimes. Wait on the Lord my friends, even the waiting is a blessing, pray and have patience.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Corinthians 12:9
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24