“Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted years. Make your stand, and realize you’re living in the golden years.” — “Wasted Years,” Iron Maiden, written by Adrian Smith.
I’ve always been a dreamer. When I was a teenager I dreamed of being in a Christian heavy metal band. It was all I could think about.
I recall a foolish exercise I once carried out, in hopes of “finding God’s will for my life.” I closed my eyes, then opened my Bible and pointed to a random verse.
I did that five times, and four of the five times I landed on verses having to do with music.
“WOOHOO!” I exclaimed, naiveté in full view of the world.
“I’m gonna make my living in music!!”
As Darkness said in “Legend”…
“The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity.”
I was the back-up drummer for a couple of tiny worship bands in a couple of small town churches I attended as a young man, but never grew beyond the “I can barely keep a beat” stage. I also played percussion (bongos, congas, shakers, etc) at a larger church in Springfield, Missouri, and enjoyed it, but again, never grew much as a musician. I had a blast, but was mediocre at best.
Feeling listless and useless, I dropped out of college after my freshman year and literally told God (out loud), “Lord, I’m just wasting my time here. I’m gonna drop out, get a job, get married, have a couple kids, and when You’re ready for me, You know where to find me.”
So I did, but along the way I took a few shots at my dreams.
First, it was singing in a Christian hard rock band. We took two weeks to agree on a name—“Rest in Peace” was what we finally settled on—and the third week we broke up.
Then a few years later, when I was a locksmith, I found out that a dude I worked with was a musician and had his own recording equipment.
“WOW!” I told him, “I write lyrics and can sorta sing.”
I just KNEW this was a God-thing!
So we started meeting a couple times a week, and ended up recording a six-song, hard rock EP. Along the way I bought a bass guitar, but never really had an ear for it. If my musical buddy showed me the riff, I could imitate it, but never had the gift of being able to find it myself.
After we finished the sixth song, his dad passed away quite unexpectedly, and he went through such a hard time he felt the need to walk away from everything that had anything to do with his past.
That meant me. That meant our band, and just as simply as that, it was over.
I still have the demo, and my son, Trey, has listened to it dozens of times over the years. He seemed to be amazed his old man could sing, write lyrics and (sorta) play bass. It enthralled him, which I always thought was funny, since the whole thing seemed like such a painful waste of time and effort.
A few years later, when I began working at my current ministry, Global University, I was in a cubicle next to a guy named Joe, who was an artist and a wanna-be comic book writer.
“WOW!” I told him. “I’ve been thinking of doing a comic book for years. I can’t really get my brain to think of stories and characters in terms of a comic book script, but if you can do that, we have ourselves a project!”
“Not only that,” Joe said, “But one of the computer guys here is my best friend, and he’s a way better artist than me.”
I just KNEW this was a God-thing!
So we started working on our comic, and at one point even had the attention of a man who was, back then, one of the biggest, new Christian “celebrities” of the time. He told us he wanted to publish us.
BOOM! We were on our way!
But, as the months dragged on, the man slowly lost interest, and our little group began to splinter.
Soon we parted ways, tired, disillusioned, but much wiser.
As these years passed, however, something began happening behind the scenes.
Slowly. Quietly. Methodically.
My son was in his early teens when he became interested in playing the drums.
“I can show you all I know,” I told him, “which should take about 10 minutes.”
But he immediately took to the drums. He took that TINY bit of knowledge I passed on and within a few weeks had already surpassed my skills. I was thrilled as I watched his talent flourish. That tiny mustard seed of faith I had planted so many years ago was slowly blooming.
Today he is a master at the drums, is teaching himself bass guitar, is an outstanding heavy metal vocalist and a better lyricist than I could ever be.
Seeing a pattern here? I sorta played the drums, tried to play bass guitar, was an okay singer and wrote lyrics that weren’t bad. He’s my miracle. Trey has become what I always wanted to be, which thrills my soul to no end.
He has a band called Sacred Throne, which actually rhymes with the name of mine and my buddy’s demo band, Scarlet Road.
For the record, I never liked that name.
I was always chasing dreams. Here I am, 50 years old, and none of them have come true.
But my son, my offspring, my boy, is the mighty oak tree which grew from those crazy, twisted and confused days of seed planting.
Am I jealous? Heck no, man, I’m proud as punch. I hope he goes on to achieve greater success than I could ever imagine.
What I’m saying is this: I thought all those dreams had died, but they weren’t wasted; they were my son’s seeds of faith.
More than three decades later, I’m just now seeing it.
So if you’re a dreamer, keep dreaming.
“So, my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Don’t let anything change you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord. You know that your work in the Lord is never wasted. (1 Corinthians 15:58)”
By the way, I never quit; my dreams have just evolved. I’m writing a book, and hope to be a full-time writer and speaker in the next few years.
Don’t let your youthful dreams become regrets. Every seed you plant will germinate, somehow, someday, even if you never live to see it.
I’ve previously mentioned the family motto on the tattoos both my daughter and I have, but will mention it again in case you missed it:
“No fear of the future, no regrets of the past.”
Dream on. Keep planting seeds, and don’t look back. Nothing you do is wasted.
“(T)he ones who water and plant have nothing to brag about. God, who causes the growth, is the only One who matters. The one who plants is no greater than the one who waters; both will be rewarded based on their work. (1 Corinthians 3:7-8)”