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Gabe was mesmerized as he sat staring at the television, watching his favorite band perform their hit songs. He had memorized all the words and heard the tunes so many times they were like an old familiar sweater worn for warmth and comfort. As Gabe continued to observe the band, he became aware of the effect their music had on the audience. When the melody and lyrics were cheerful and lively, people smiled, clapped, and sang along, but when the songs became sober and introspective, the audience seemed quiet and sometimes tearful. Gabe realized the power music could have on the soul, and he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He desired to be an entertainer and write songs that touch lives in a meaningful way.
He was ten years old when he began mowing lawns to earn the money he needed to buy a guitar. He had taken music lessons from a teacher in town and learned the chords to several songs, but witnessing this band on TV, at the impressionable age of thirteen, fueled a passion for his music he’d never known. When the show ended, Gabe picked up his guitar, and with a renewed sense of wonder, wrote his first song. It was childlike and simple but authentic and heartfelt, and he was proud of what he’d accomplished.
Gabe formed a band with a few friends from school, and they played for community events and in small establishments. They gained experience with each performance while enjoying a camaraderie through their shared love of music. Gabe’s parents were supportive, encouraging his talent, and life was pleasant until the age of sixteen.
One afternoon, he returned home from school, looking forward to practicing with his band. He called out a cheerful greeting to his mom as he walked through the door, stopping abruptly when he saw both his parents sitting soberly at the kitchen table. There was tension in the air as Gabe stood inside the door, nervously wondering what was happening. His mom spoke first, breaking the silence, assuring Gabe of their love for him, then announced she and dad could no longer live together and were getting a divorce. Gabe collapsed into a chair, visibly shaken, unaware his parents were at odds in their marriage. He pleaded with them to reconsider, but they said there was no hope of reconciliation. His family had a brief discussion then his dad packed his bags and walked out the door. Gabe heard his mom cry herself to sleep that night, and he knew without a doubt life would never be the same.
He began to struggle with feelings of anger and sadness and an overwhelming sense of abandonment. His father visited him a couple of times, but Gabe missed the steady presence his dad used to provide. He felt lost and disoriented as he’d always been close to his father and didn’t understand how his dad could move on, turning his back on his broken child.
Gabe poured himself into his music, writing songs that reflected this season of his life, and even though this endeavor was painful, he found it to be cathartic. He started working at a hardware store to help pay the bills, and his mom, though grieving, continued to work as a teacher at an elementary school. Life began to take on a new normal, and although the world seemed more raw and less shiny, they put one step in front of the other, and gradually, things seemed a little easier to bear.
However, as Gabe’s eighteenth birthday approached, he grew quiet and withdrawn, having abandoned his hope of a music career so he could take care of his mother. He awoke on the day of his birthday, reflecting soberly on the direction his life would now take, then his mom surprised him with a birthday dinner and presented him with a colorfully wrapped box. He opened the gift, and finding an envelope inside, gave his mother a bewildered look. She smiled and said, “Gabe, you’ve been a great son. Now, it’s time to live your own life!” He peered in the envelope, discovering money she had saved, and his dream was restored by a supportive and encouraging mom.
He embarked on his adventure, traveling to a city well known for its rich musical heritage, renting a small apartment, and securing a daytime job at a restaurant bussing tables. He visited coffee houses and clubs at night to become familiar with the local music scene and hoped someday to have the chance to perform in one of these venues. Later that year, Gabe was invited to join a band of like-minded musicians and was grateful for the opportunity, but especially for the friendships which he had missed since leaving his hometown.
After several months they hired a manager to promote their band and book gigs for them. Their manager called, one day, thrilled to say a record producer would be at the club where they were singing that night. The band was nervous as they took the stage, but their passion and drive fueled their desire to excel, and they were signed to a record deal.
Gabe was fascinated by the recording process, and it all seemed so surreal when they decided to record a few of the songs he had written recently. The first time he heard one of them on the radio, he quickly phoned his mom because he knew she’d be happy to share in the joy of his achievement. As their songs received more airplay on the radio, attendance grew at their concerts, then a well-known singer heard their music and invited them to join him on his upcoming tour.
Gabe and his band stepped onto the stage on the first day of the tour, excited to play several songs before the main act came to perform. The crowd was welcoming and enthusiastic, motivating them to do their best to provide the audience with a memorable experience. The band continued to grow in popularity as they gained more exposure with every concert. They were ecstatic when they learned they’d been offered their own tour for next summer, and the days turned into months, as the band practiced long hours so they wouldn’t disappoint their fans.
Finally, the tour got underway, and the men were living their dream, traveling from city to city, meeting interesting people along the way. The audience was amazing, clapping and cheering and singing along to every song. Gabe had grown to feel comfortable in front of a crowd, enjoying the interaction with some of his fans, but lately, when he went back to his hotel room after a concert, his heart felt restless, and he couldn’t sleep.
Gabe had mixed emotions as he joined his band on the stage for the final performance of their tour. Gabe looked out at the crowd, grateful for their love and support, but the feeling of exhilaration he had during each concert had dimmed, and he was so confused. Gabe thanked his fans as he exited the stage, making an appearance at a party in the band’s honor, then hailed a cab for a ride back to the hotel to try to get some sleep.
He awoke that Sunday morning and decided to take a walk, as his plane bound for home wouldn’t depart until late afternoon. Gabe wandered aimlessly down the streets of the city, questioning everything in his life. He’d obtained his goal of a successful music career, so why was he unhappy? He felt an emptiness deep in his soul, a hollow feeling that could not be filled with drugs, alcohol, relationships, or money, and he desperately longed to fix it. Gabe continued walking, deep in thought, when suddenly he heard beautiful music coming from the church up ahead. The door was propped open to welcome churchgoers, and he entered the building and sat down near the back. Gabe gazed at the front of the church and saw a band playing music that was joyful and inspiring, unlike anything he’d ever heard. Then the Pastor was introduced and approached the pulpit, thanking the band for leading them in praise and worship.
Gabe believed in God but had only been to church a few times for a friend’s wedding and his grandparent’s funerals. He thought the sermon would be dry and boring, so he was preparing to leave, but when the Pastor opened his Bible and began to preach, Gabe was captivated by what he was saying. “King Solomon, son of King David, as chronicled in the book of Ecclesiastes,” said the Pastor, “embarked on a mission to discover the meaning of life. He pursued pleasures, labor, and intelligent ideas, and after an exhaustive search with unlimited resources, Solomon concluded that everything was meaningless, and the only thing that mattered was a relationship with God.
The Pastor continued, “God created us because he wanted people to love Him and have a personal relationship with Him, and without close fellowship with our Creator, there is an emptiness in our soul that nothing can remedy. People try to fill this void with possessions, adventures, substances, or relationships. However, these things will not give lasting meaning or purpose, and the pleasure they provide will only fade away.
When God created Adam and Eve, He had a perfect relationship with them, but they disobeyed Him bringing sin into the world, causing a barrier between God and man. Jesus came to earth to die on the cross to take the punishment for our sin so that we could be reconciled to God, no longer separated from Him. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God who died for you and rose again, recognize Him as Lord, and put your trust in Him, you become a child of God. Then the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside to teach and encourage you from His Word and be your comforter and guide. Your life will have purpose as you serve the Lord with the spiritual gifts and talents He has given, and you’ll have peace and joy knowing Jesus is with you, and someday you’ll live with Him in Heaven. Maybe there is someone here today who can relate to what I’ve been saying. You don’t understand why you feel unfulfilled, and you’re tired of all the confusion. If you would like to speak with me after the service, I’d be happy to stay and have a conversation with you.”
The Pastor gave a closing prayer while the choir sang one last song, and Gabe sat quietly, deep in thought as the congregation filed out. Gabe was startled when he heard a voice calling out to him, “Hi, I’m Pastor Sam. I’m glad you came. I don’t believe we have met.” “This is the first time I’ve attended your church,” Gabe responded, acknowledging the friendly Pastor. “I’m visiting from out of town for a few days, while my friends and I perform a concert in the area. I was taking a walk this morning when I heard awesome music coming from the direction of your church, and I felt compelled to come inside to hear more of these wonderful songs. They were peaceful, uplifting, and hopeful, and I’ve never experienced music like this until now.” The Pastor nodded agreeably, saying, “You have been listening to our worship band singing songs of praise to our Lord and Savior.”
Gabe pondered what the Pastor had said, and he continued speaking, “Then when you began to preach, I was stunned you were discussing the same issues I’ve been struggling with for some time.” The Pastor sat down in the pew ahead of Gabe, and turning to him, he smiled and said, “God loves you and knew you were searching, so He made a way for you to hear the truth.”
Gabe’s journey for answers had brought him to this point, and seeing kindness and compassion in the eyes of the Pastor, Gabe decided to seek his godly counsel saying, “When I was a young boy, I began to desire a career in the music industry. I studied and worked hard to achieve this goal, but then my parents divorced, and I became angry and depressed. My mom was loving and supportive and helped rekindle my love for music, but the wounds I had suffered from the divorce never fully healed.
I moved away to pursue my dream, and it had finally become a reality. I was thrilled at first with this accomplishment and thought now I would be happy. However, as time passed, I began to feel aimless and empty inside, and I’ve been looking for the answer to what’s been missing in my life. Then I heard you preach about finding purpose in Christ, and I knew my quest was over, and I had found the truth.” Gabe wanted to surrender himself to God, reconciling with his Creator, and the Pastor rejoiced as they bowed their heads, and Gabe said a heartfelt prayer.
“Dear Jesus,” he began, “I’ve been searching for truth in all the wrong places when all I needed was You. I ask You to forgive my sins and be my Lord and Savior. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to live in me, and I ask You to show me Your will for my life as I seek to follow You. I choose to forgive my father because the Lord’s forgiven me, and now I have a Heavenly Father who loves and cares about me. As a child of God, I know my purpose is to glorify You, and with Your help, I’ll live to please You in everything I do. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Gabe smiled and took a deep breath, enjoying his newfound peace. All the money, fame, and pleasure in the world would never compare, Gabe realized, with the joy of knowing Jesus as his Savior and friend. He knew there’d be struggles and sorrows on this earth he would have to bear, but the Lord would never leave or forsake him, and one day, he would see Him in Heaven.
The Pastor’s face was full of joy as he welcomed Gabe into the family of God and encouraged him to study the Bible, meditating on God’s Word, and spending time with the Lord in prayer so he would grow closer to Him. “Gabe, you spoke of the beautiful music the worship band was playing,” the Pastor shared, “so imagine how amazing Heaven will be when every voice is singing songs of praise in perfect harmony to Jesus, the King of kings.”
Gabe’s search for his purpose had successfully come to an end, but his new life in Christ was just beginning, and he was excited to see what was ahead. He wanted to share Jesus’ love with others and tell them how he’d been set free, so they could have a personal relationship with God that would last through eternity.
By Bev Yellowley