Divine Beginnings

The Lord arrested my heart at the age of 16. I can’t tell you the moment, but I can tell you the night.

I was content with rituals and religion when my best friend invited me to attend a DC Talk concert. It was the Supernatural tour, and I had an encounter with God that would change my life forever. I didn’t audibly hear His voice – though I would have loved to. I didn’t even walk down front to an altar – though that would have made my story much more dramatic.

Everything simply clicked.

For the first time, I realized that behind all of the memorized verses and sung doxologies was a Person – Jesus Christ – and He was alive! Toby Mac, Kevin Max and Michael Tait closed out the night singing “Jesus Freak,” and it was under the stars in King’s Island’s amphitheater that the Lord birthed a fire in me. I wanted to be a Jesus freak. I wanted the world to know.

Fast forward to the fall of 2005.

I’m now in college at St. Louis University – a junior with a reserved seat in medical school. I had met Abbie Jelley (yes, Jelley), my future wife, three years earlier on a mission trip to Juarez, Mexico. In just a few short months, I would propose to her with a flower, a ring and a song that I wrote just for her. But that’s another story.

The setting was divinely similar. I sat in the darkness under the stars, but this time I wasn’t listening to music. I was actually the one playing. When I was a freshman, the Lord told me to go out and buy a guitar. I drove to Mars Music, bought my first guitar (a black Washburn) and played every spare minute I had. That was a special season for me – a season when I found out who I really was.

I sat under those stars confused and desperate – trying to wrap my finite mind around the will of God. How could God call me to medical missionary work, send me to St. Louis University, reserve me a seat in medical school and then ask me to throw that all away to write music and lead worship? It was ludicrous to my logic and reason, but my passion for worship and ministry reached a tipping point that night.

My question was simple.

“Can I quit my pre-med and lead worship?” 

His answer?

“I give you the freedom to choose.”

So, the next day, I walked into my advisor’s office, dropped out of my final pre-med class, declined taking the MCAT and never looked back. Since 2005, the Lord has confirmed that decision over and over again.