I moved to Nashville in 1993 believing that in about 3-6 months I would have a record deal and would be shaking up the planet for God. Needless to say, I was a little naive. But, instead of doing the typical wannabe artist thing and waiting tables, I decided that I would go out and prove to God and the world that I could have a ministry without sitting around waiting for a record company to snap me up. Unfortunately, I forgot that waiting is one of God’s most important lessons.
So, for about 5 years I pounded the pavement as Jeff Deyo Ministries. I made 3 custom CD’s, had my own t-shirts, bracelets, grunge shirts, hats, pictures and stickers, did concerts and camps all over the country, but still could not really make a good living with all of that. But, I was determined to do what God had called me to do all by myself!!!!
Things began opening up for me after I began really becoming broken over my inability to survive doing music. I told the Lord, that no matter what the tears, pain or loss, I just wanted to be and do what he wanted me to be and do – even if it didn’t have anything to do with music! I just wanted to obey, knowing that whatever God wanted me to do would be the thing that would most satisfy me.
About a year after I began praying this prayer, I got a song on a Dove nominated Word Records compilation that included the top 20 independent artists in the nation. The idea was that a few of us would get record deals out of this, but it never turned into anything for me.
Shortly after that, Teen Mania called and wanted me to become their new worship leader for their Acquire the Fire Conferences of between 3-8,000 people. This seemed to be the big break I was looking for, but it soon fell apart after only 4 weekends with them. At this point, I was really broken and beginning to wonder what God was up to.
Then I got a call from a friend of mine who was in the band, Zilch. Since they had just lost their singer, they asked me if I would fill in. After one night, they asked me if I would join the band. This is the point where I REALLY had to make one of the biggest decisions in my life! I had spent 5 years of my life (professionally) trying to build Jeff Deyo Ministries, and now I was faced with throwing all that away to join a band that I was really not that fond of. After about a month of praying and fasting, I was still not getting a huge peace in my spirit about either joining or not joining. But somewhere deep inside, I felt that this was a test as too whether I was willing to give up my dream for God’s dream.
It was at this point that it seemed God was asking me to give up Jeff Deyo Ministries to see if I was becoming more loyal to him or to my calling. So, with some hesitation about joining Zilch, but with reckless abandon concerning obeying God, I told the guys I would join Zilch.
To just anybody, this may have seemed like no big deal. I was leaving behind a music thing that was not providing for my family and that was not connected with a record company, to join a band that was signed with Gotee Records and at least had a CD in the stores. But, to me, this was like the death of my dream. I think it must have felt similar to how Abraham felt when God asked Him to give up his son, Isaac. To me, Jeff Deyo Ministries was something I had birthed and had sweat and bled over. I had poured my life into JDM, written all the songs, traveled the country, and now God was asking me to give all that up to partner with people and a vision I wasn’t totally sure about. My dream seemed to be quickly fading into the past, dying a very quick death. I felt as if I was losing a part of me by being obedient to God. And as far as could see, Zilch wasn’t necessarily headed for any great success.
I can’t begin to compare my pain in this to Jesus’, but I do see that he had to make a conscious choice to obey God instead of doing what might have seemed more natural. Certainly it would have seemed more natural for Jesus to stick around on the earth a little longer. I mean, just think of the impact he could have made on the world at that time if he had lived for another 30 or 40 years at least. He could have healed so many people, he could have brought many more people into an understanding of God’s love for them and he could have helped so much with the Jewish/Roman conflict.
But, somehow, death seems to have a greater impact on people for a longer time. You see, if Jesus had just lived out a full life and died of natural causes several things wouldn’t have happened. First and foremost, we wouldn’t have had someone to take our place in the penalty of death that we so deserved for our sins. Also, Jesus would not have had the impact he had on the rest of the world for the rest of history through His resurrection. Through His life he would have touched the lives of the people in that day and maybe some others, but through His death, he was and is able to touch everyone for all of eternity.
For me, the fact that my dream had to die has made me a better candidate to be used by God. It has proven to God, myself and others that I am more interested in obedience to Him than in what my plans are. Sometimes we think we understand better how we can serve God than He does – this is certainly ridiculous and somewhat prideful. Certainly the God who made us knows better how we can be used to aid His Kingdom than we do!
Since that time, Zilch has turned into SONICFLOOd, and I have been more blessed than at any other point in my ministry. I have given all of me to God instead of just “my ministry.” Because of that, I have signified that He has the right to change anything in my life at any time. I have determined that I will forever do and say whatever he wants just as he asked of Jeremiah in chapter one of that book. Your Kingdom come, Lord, my kingdom go! That is my prayer!
Now, I am on a new track apart from SONICFLOOd. I didn’t plan this or even want it. In fact God had to rip me out of SONICFLOOd. But I am more excited about the coming months than at any other time before, simply because I know I am being obedient to God. Obedience always leads to God’s blessing! And God’s blessing is something a desperately need and want!
The death of me and my plans seem to always bring around a greater impact for the Kingdom of God. That is all that I want – for His Kingdom to be built on this earth. The quicker God has His way on earth, the quicker we get to spend all of eternity with Him away from all the pain and difficulty life on this sin-cursed planet can bring. That is why I am here on this planet – to be a part of Him increasing and me decreasing. Why have I come to this planet? As the first song on our CD says, “I have come to worship!” I want to be something GREAT for God. This is the most satisfying thing to be for God – NOTHING! Your Kingdom come, Lord, my kingdom go!
Other articles by Jeff Deyo:
A Life of
Being a Lead
How To Make It
BIG In Christian Music
Great for God: Nothing
Jeff Deyo is the organizer and worship leader for WorshipCityPraise, a
monthly praise and worship gathering in Nashville, TN. His song, “These
Hands” appears on Max Lucado’s “He Chose the Nails.” For more information,
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