A week ago I was speaking with a few people after one of our services. A woman stood by and then came forward to talk with me. She told me her husband passed away a few weeks earlier and needed to share something important with me. More on that later…
God continues to remind and teach me about the real treasures of life. We live in a culture that values and encourages the acquisition of material possessions. To be sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with many things in this world—as long as they don’t harm us, others, or pull us away from our first love, God. There is, however, an ever-present temptation—even for Christ followers—to look to the temporary things of this world to satisfy the deeper needs of our souls. The truth that Augustine once articulated still holds true today:
“Our hearts are restless, O God until we rest in you…”
Like all artists, I have hopes and dreams for the music God has poured into my heart. I write music with the hope of authentically presenting God’s faithful love and promises to all people who seek and turn to Him. Before one note was even recorded of the new “Living Oaks” recording my wife and I prayerfully committed our work to the Lord, and promised we would faithfully use it to glorify Him. We prayed that God would touch those who listen to it, but also bless our church, the ministry of Grace Unleashed, and our family. Included in that prayer was the hope that God would bless our work through the blessing of healthy sales. Our church is currently in the midst of an ambitious capital funds campaign, and we desired that God would use the recording to support that effort, as well as to help others.
In the area of Christian music, there can be a temptation to measure the success of an artist solely in terms of or recording units (or downloads) sold. To be clear, I rejoice that God has used some Christian musicians and artists to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ through recorded music, videos, and concerts to millions of people all over the world. It’s also true that there’s an industry based around Christian music that has to survive and prevail, so it’s necessary for companies to be focused on recording units sold. Many people’s livelihoods are dependent on this! On the other hand, there are countless Christian artists whose call has not included recording contracts, and they move forward in faith from one engagement to the next, keeping their eyes fixed on God for ministry and personal provision. Again, there’s nothing wrong with sales benchmarks, but God continues to remind me that it’s all about His glory, kingdom plan, and provision that counts—not just how many recording are tallied in the ledger. To quote one of my songs:
“Nothing I have or give or discover, nothing in heaven or on earth brings meaning to my life or value in Your eyes…” (from the song “Beloved One” )
Jesus presented this succinctly and perfectly when He said:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:12-21)
Now, back to the woman who came forward to talk with me last Sunday…
Through both smiles and teary eyes, she said that her husband, a Christ-follower, passed from this earth into the presence of God a few weeks ago. She thought it was important for me to know that the last weeks of his life her husband listened to my recording “Living Oaks” over and over (along with some Karen Carpenter music!) She said it brought joy and encouragement to him as he left this life and entered eternity. To say I was moved is a vast understatement—my breath was momentarily taken away, and my heart profoundly touched. I thanked this precious woman and told her that I would treasure her story.
The truth is that God used this woman’s words to remind me that the real treasures of life come from His hand. It is both humbling and thrilling to realize that God uses our work—whether well known or not— to bring glory to Him and help people who are in need. Through her words, my eyes are open even more to the eternal treasures God has put in my life. This week I’ve gone on many walks with my wife and thank God for the treasure she is in my life. I thank God that He allowed me to be part of His work that helped a man as he prepared to leave this life.
Finally, God holds all the resources of the universe and will perfectly provide for kingdom ministry— including capital funds campaigns, ministry expenses, family needs, and more. Whether through a recording, through someone who is inspired to give, or through a miraculous provision, God is fully able to take care of all the needs we bring to Him. But even the temporal provisions of God pale in comparison to the best He offers to each of us. The ultimate treasure is knowing and resting in Christ alone and enjoying His presence and care through this life and eternity.
Here is the link to my music:
God bless you!