"Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. " How does this apply to Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN? Trust me..it does!
As humans I have discovered we seem to set expectations of people, things, and situations. I have learned the hard way, that is a recipe for disaster and heart ache. When I mow, I have an expectation that I will turn the key and start the engine. It doesn't always go that way. No amount of me being upset about it changes the fact that it is broke and I need to fix it. It is a machine, they fail, they grow old, they break down. The quicker I accept it and get the mower fixed, the quicker I will be on my way to having that beautiful lawn that makes the love of my life, Kristy, happy. (Happy wife...happy life!)
With that said, the same can be said for humans and for things. Let me explain.
When I formed Rising Life 5 years ago in early 2012, I had certain expectations in my head. Although, a lot of the hopes and dreams I had for Rising Life did come true, as always, there was a lot of hurt and disappointment as well. This was because so many more things didn't go the way I had hoped. I placed a lot of my hope and faith in the people around me, when it should have been placed simply in God's hands and nothing more. It could also be said, the folks around me placed a ton of faith and hope in me as well, and I truly failed them in many ways. We all were not looking in the right place and not letting God take control.
All of this changed on a fateful trip to Chattanooga, TN and Lookout Mountain in mid-2014.
Most of you that have read our blogs know that the first year of Rising Life and our ministry was a roller coaster. We had amazing highs (opening for artists like Jason Crabb and Jeremy Camp, meeting Lecrae, Casting Crowns, and so many more) and some terrible lows (losing most of our band members and many other disappointing events.) However by the end of 2013 a lot of things had started to turn around. We had a new bass player, Kristy had taken over on keyboards. She added such an anchor and just consistency to everything. She single-handedly probably saved Rising Life.
We had completed and released the first run of "Heart in Flames." Although it was a fan favorite, and probably easily 15 times better than our debut, it just didn't take off on a larger scale like I had thought it would. Even though on one hand we had a lot of things happening, it was starting to stall again. I started to wonder what the next step was. After so much adversity, and putting together a solid album, I just knew the Lord had big plans for Rising Life. The problem was, HE DID, I just had a different view of what that was going to be versus Him.
So around that time I had hooked up with a producer in Chattanooga, TN. I was desperate to make that next push for Rising Life. SO much of that massive amount of momentum had already been lost. Kristy was also pregnant with Alexandra and she was pretty far along. We were slowing down. I prayed hard that God would give me guidance on what to do next.
He was listening, and He answered, as always though, it did not look like I thought it would.
We Arrive at Lookout Mountain!
So we traveled to Chattanooga to record a new version of 'Into His Light.' When you work with producers, you basically just let them take what you are already doing, and do their version of it. They are like a director pulling out the best in an actor. So we were going to a PRO studio with a real producer, and man we were pumped. I had delusions of grandeur that this was it, I am about to make it and go all the way. My first two albums, although the second was really good, were recorded in my house, this was going to be the real deal.
So we arrive and, to tell you I was underwhelmed by the studio is an understatement. It wasn't the monstrous complex I expected it to be. However I trusted the process, and so myself and a very pregnant Kristy recorded a new version of 'Into His Light.' It was very good, it just really wasn't our sound, but it was very good and he brought out some great things in my voice for sure. Mom was with us and really took it all in as well.
So we finish up, and on the way out, we decided to stop at Lookout Mountain. Loved it, and up on that mountain I asked God to just use us to His will, as long as that will was to make this a top 40 single.... (I seriously asked that. Thank goodness for God's grace!)
Failure, a Flop, a Box Office Dud
Well, the single flopped. We did get some air play , but we had some bad radio promoters and we connected with the people we needed to. We gained new fans and it was positive, but overall it was a flop versus the resources put into it. So, I entered into a pretty good depression. The only thing that kept me upright during that time was, I had a gig as a worship leader by this time and my family.
A couple of months later, Alexandra was born and I started thinking we were done. I had written some new songs and recorded demos of them, they were very strong, but just thought well, this is it.
Out of the blue, Mom just said, "I studied that studio, why can't you build one just like it? Furthermore, why can't you just start your own record label and just do it all yourself."
Then it hit me. All these years since I started Rising Life, I had been looking to others and depending on others to make it happen. There were many folks along the way to make promises and work with us, I thought OK Lord, You brought them into my life and now they are the ones who will help us make it. After 15-16 times just like that, it always failed. So at that moment, it totally hit me.
"Ok, I guess it is You and I Lord. I get it. Time to just put my faith in You, and You are now showing me the way. You are the One who is going to make this thing happen and it is going to be in Your time and the way You want it to be. Not how I want it to be. This is Your ministry, not mine."
Failure Turns Into Blessings
Fast forward a couple of years, and, this pro studio I am setting in and our new record 'The Lion' which has been critically acclaimed and received tons of spins. I have produced albums for others that have reached the top 40 in national air play, won awards. Blessing after blessing. It all started after I stopped trusting and putting faith in man, and put it in God.
Guess what, about a year after all of that, after building the studio, I was able to quit my job and go full time, and further more, it allowed Kristy to follow a dream of hers to build a grooming shop which has been a massive success.
What's the point of this?
So I saw myself touring and having hit records, and all of that might still come and it is a good possibility, but man, I am a FULL TIME MUSICIAN! I am a worship leader for the beautiful people at Twin Lakes Worship Center. God answered the dreams He gave me, but I had to accept that I could only rely on Him and no one else. Not concert promoters, or producers, or people with connections, no one but God Himself.
Another astonishing thing, He took what I deemed as a failure, and to Him, it was simply a step in the journey. Out of that, sprung all of this and the future has never been brighter and Rising Life never stronger.
So I guess my message is a two-parter this time, trust in God and not in man. We are human, we aren't perfect. We will let each other down most of the time. God never will. The second part is, when we trust in Him and ask for direction and for His plan for our lives, be prepared, it will NEVER look like you think it was going to be. I asked for tour buses and hit songs, He said, that's not my plan exactly, but I am God, trust in me and I will show you great things.
Boy as I sit here on a beautiful Monday afternoon in my studio, am I glad I did!
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