I Am Redeemed is an open book of Mike Weaver's life, bringing into the light everything from his battle with self-hatred to the near death of his brother and bandmate, who ultimately had both feet amputated to save his life. Mike shares the lessons learned in the loss of his father and dealing with the spirit of suicide within his band, Big Daddy Weave.
At the lowest of lows, with Mike feeling rejected and alone, God broke through to speak truth and life into him. Thankful for God's plan and timing and methods, he is especially grateful for the new identity Jesus had paid for on the cross. In spite of his faults and failures, Mike learned that only God can take the stuff you hate about yourself and use it to reach people.
Through the million-selling song "Redeemed" and now the powerful story behind it, as well as inspiration from Scripture, you will be encouraged to embrace God's redeeming grace so you, too, have the opportunity to be beautiful offerings to the Lord.
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THE GREAT LIAR
Storms had threatened all day, but beams of afternoon sun began to break through the clouds as our car pulled up on 5th Avenue in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. We stepped out of the car and onto a bright red carpet that stretched nearly a city block along the outside of the Ryman Auditorium to the historic music venue's entrance. Hundreds of music fans cheered and waved while camera crews and press stopped us for interviews as we made our way into the first-ever K-LOVE Fan Awards.
As honored as the other guys in Big Daddy Weave and I were to be there, the red carpet was a source of anxiety for me from the moment I heard about it. I've always hated certain aspects of these kinds of events. Those negative feelings are primarily rooted in my own insecurities. The way I've seen myself and have perceived other people seeing me over the years was the beginning of the very song that brought us here.
I was blown away when I first heard we were even nominated for an award, let alone for Song of the Year. Making it even more meaningful was that the winners would be decided by radio listener votes. Most other awards are decided by committees or industry members. This was an event for the people. Every one of those votes represented a life that had been touched in some way by the message in the music.
In my mind we had no chance of winning. I wasn't bothered by that because I'm such a big fan of everyone else who was nominated. There was no way an award was going to us instead of artists like Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman, people we respect and looked forward to being in the same room with that night.
I was so sure we wouldn't win that I didn't even have a speech prepared. My six-year-old son, Eli, said to me earlier that night, "Daddy, I'm nervous. What will happen if you don't win?" I told him not to worry. We had already won knowing how God had used the song in so many people's lives.
We made our way into the Ryman Auditorium and found the pews where we were to sit. The Ryman was originally built as a house of worship in the late 1800s. I felt more like I was in church than at an awards show, except that I was surrounded by my favorite Christian music artists. It was surreal. I loved being there with my wife, Kandice, and the other Big Daddy Weave guys and their wives. For as much time as the five of us in Big Daddy Weave had spent together, there had been only a few times when we and the very special women in our lives had been together.
When the time approached for us to perform our nominated song, we left our seats to walk backstage. On the way, we passed by TobyMac. As we did, I thought about how I'd listened to TobyMac and dc Talk since I was a teenager. I couldn't believe we were here among all these people who have had such an impact on my life.
Standing side stage about to go on, I thought about the people who had stood on this very spot — Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and so many others. In just a moment we were going to stand in that same place and sing of what Jesus had done in our lives.
The time came for us to play. I don't consider us in the same league as the people I was seeing in the audience during our performance, like Mac Powell from Third Day and Bart Millard from MercyMe. It moved me to be singing a song in front of them that meant so much to my life. Seeing the looks on their faces, seeing that they were receiving what we were sharing, is a moment I'll never forget.
Back in our seats, the time came for the announcement of the Song of the Year award. Suddenly my heart started beating faster. "Redeemed" being voted Song of the Year wasn't something I'd even considered possible, but I could feel the anxiousness increasing in my mind and body. What if they did say our name? What would I say?
Then Mandisa read, "The Song of the Year is ... 'Redeemed'! Big Daddy Weave!" When I heard those words, my mind left me, and my body went into autopilot mode. Our friend Chris August was jumping up and down in front of us. I didn't even remember that my wife was there. I just left the pew and thought, I need to get to that podium before anyone else so I can figure out what I can possibly say. Can we even respond to what is happening? How in the world am I going to process this? I could only think about Eli feeling nervous and the news I could tell him when we got home.
I didn't know exactly what I was saying at the time. I only knew that I was speaking words of gratitude. I was so grateful for the opportunity to thank God in front of everybody. I had set myself up not to care about being nominated for an award, let alone actually receiving one. I really thought it didn't affect me, but it was a wonderful feeling. It's not like I thought we deserved it, but it was awesome that it happened.
This experience that all started with a song that came together in my bedroom turned even more surreal. We left the podium and entered the side stage area, where the first people to congratulate us were the show's hosts — Phil, Miss Kay, and Jase Robertson from our favorite TV show, Duck Dynasty. They were giving us props and patting us on the back. I was sure I was about to wake up any second from some weird Duck Dynasty dream.
As sweet and special as all of that was, we still knew what we had won in the journey leading up to this point was the most important thing of all. The icing on the cake was being able to talk about what the Lord had done in my life and the lives of others.
When the Lord moves in your life in a real and personal way, no one can ever take it away from you. People can try, but there's something ironclad about having an experience with the very real God. It's like what the Lord said to the people of Israel, "My Presence will go with you" (Exodus 33:14). After that, a beautiful thing happens when you share your experience with others. They become hungry for their own personal encounter with Him.
A week after the awards show, still in the afterglow of all that happened, I played an event without the other Big Daddy Weave guys at a youth camp. My family was with me, and we were having a great time. Not long after we had been there, I began to wake up at night thinking how stupid I must have sounded giving the acceptance speech at the K-LOVE Fan Awards.
Part of celebrating the recognition of "Redeemed" was celebrating the victory in my life over self-hatred, not feeling good enough, and reliving things over and over in my mind that I was disappointed about in myself. Now all of that was happening again. It was the most disheartening feeling. To be back at square one just one week later was one of the most hopeless feelings in my life. I didn't know how I could ever get up in front of anybody again.
I didn't realize it then, but I was listening to the voice of the great liar. The enemy's long-term, unchanging strategy is to tell us lie after lie about ourselves. The apostle John wrote, "When [Satan] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies" ( John 8:44). Sadly, we're often all too eager to listen.
The enemy was speaking a small falsehood into my mind where he knew I was the weakest. I added all the other ingredients to make it grow into something overwhelming. I was angry, scared, and all the other things the enemy hoped I would be. Perhaps most ironic of all, I felt powerless.
Isn't that exactly what you would expect the enemy of the Lord to want us to feel? Here I was, having experienced an encounter with the almighty Lord of the universe who clothes me in righteousness, turning my back to that truth to embrace hate for myself because I "might" have said something that sounded stupid. It sounds insane, but perhaps you've experienced these lies as well and know exactly what I'm talking about.
Thanks to those lies and me believing them, I hated myself for most of my life. My perception of myself was like someone whose house is filled with those fun house mirrors that distort what you look like. When I looked at myself, I hated the way I looked, hated what I said, hated what I did, and hated who I was. I did that because I was looking into a mirror created and held to my face by the deceiver. Then one day, thanks be to God, I saw myself in the mirror of grace. Even though I had known the Lord and had loved Him, I had never looked at myself the way He does — covered in His love, redeemed by His sacrifice.
God means for you and me to see ourselves in the mirror of His grace. Some get there right away while others battle trying to see it, as I did for many years, beginning when I was just a small boy.CHAPTER 2
THE ROOTS OF IDENTITY
The roots of identity begin in our earliest days of childhood. My family moved to Gulf Breeze, Florida, from Michigan when I was four years old. We lived two blocks north of a body of water we can now see from my parents' house called the Santa Rosa Sound. The Sound and a thin strip of land south of it were all that separated our house from the Gulf of Mexico.
My dad worked in civil service. He was able to apply for a transfer to Florida because of the level of his GS, or General Service, number. Even as a child, I was aware of that GS number. The higher the number, the better the work opportunities. Dad was offered a job at the Pensacola Naval Air Station working in computers back in the old mainframe days.
As a kid, I never exactly fit in. Not long after we moved to Gulf Breeze, I entered the first kindergarten class of the brand-new Oriole Beach Elementary School, not far from my house. My mom recalls a day when I came home and said I didn't want to go to school anymore. She didn't know what had happened, and whatever it was is blocked in my memory, but I never wanted to ride the school bus again. All I can remember are the unfriendly faces of older kids on the bus and the playground and being afraid.
Other events related to school also shaped how I felt about myself. One of those times was when my first-grade teacher told us that writing a lowercase letter e was kind of like drawing a Pac-Man. Pac-Man was an arcade game that was really big at that time. Sometime later, she asked if anyone could draw a Pac-Man. I went up to the board and wrote the letter e, because I was going to impress her that I remembered what she had said. Everybody laughed because, of course, that's not what a Pac-Man really looks like. I felt so stupid, so let down. I wanted to leave. I never volunteered for anything again. It sounds like a stupid thing, but it affected me deeply and stayed with me even into my adult years.
There were some things I did love about school. I loved when the teacher would change the room to fit a different season. I enjoyed the stories teachers would read to us. Stories were always meaningful for me. We also had something similar to music appreciation that I loved where we got to play recorders and make music with drums and sticks. We eventually got to where we could perform the melody of "That's What Friends Are For" on our recorders, which was a big deal for us fourth graders.
I wanted to love physical education. I thought some of the things they were doing were cool, but I always stunk at everything in PE. It was another one of those places where I never felt good enough. I either couldn't keep up, wasn't as fast as other kids, or wasn't as strong as other children.
We had a teacher at Oriole Beach Elementary School named Miss Ramsey. In the third grade we had to do little dances, act out scenes, and put on plays. One day we had to do the Mexican hat dance. Nobody ever picked me to be their dance partner, so I ended up having to dance with Miss Ramsey. Miss Ramsey was a large-chested woman, and I was the height of an average third grader. The two of us dancing closely together nearly gave me a concussion from the repeated beating occurring on top of my head!
Aside from being my dance partner, Miss Ramsey noticed my voice. She chose me to perform the lead role of Scarecrow Rick in a fifth-grade play, which was a big deal. At another time Miss Ramsey had me make an appearance as Frosty the Snowman in a perfectly round Frosty costume. It was the beginning of a spark in me for music.
Those introductions to the power of music were the brighter side of my education experience. The darker side of school was dealing with the kids who looked down on me. These kids were always picking on somebody, always doing little things to get under people's skin. A particularly dark day in the sixth grade was when one of those kids tripped me as I was getting off the school bus. I went headfirst down the bus steps and received such a severe concussion that I had temporary amnesia.
Outside of school, I played with the kids in my neighborhood. I wanted them to like me so much that I would give them my things, even gifts I had just received for my birthday. I wanted to feel like we were on the same team; I wanted them to feel about me like I felt about them.
I made a few friends, but home was my haven. Home was where I felt safe with my mom and dad. My little brother, Jay, and I were buds from day one and always played together. I have such fond memories of growing up with him. We became even greater friends as we grew together into our middle school years. Even when he was very small, he was kind of a hero to me. I always thought he was the greatest.
When I was in the sixth grade, kids in my neighborhood came over to our house. They weren't my friends, but they would randomly show up when they were bored. I was so desperate for them to like me that I would do whatever they wanted to do. On this day they wanted to wrestle. They were all ganging up on me, holding me down. They weren't doing it in a mean way, just playing around. All of a sudden Jay came flying over the azalea bushes. Jay, a little third grader, then proceeded to whoop those three sixth graders! Like I said, he was my hero.
Much later, as the Lord was doing a big work in my life when I was in my twenties, I asked my dad about my childhood experiences. Why would something people said when I was small or something that happened when I was little still affect me so much as a grown man? My dad told me that if those same events happened to me now, it wouldn't affect me as much because I've formed an identity of who I am as a man. Since it happened when I was a small child, it was at a time when the foundation of my identity was being formed. Those negative experiences with my peers occurred at a time when I had not yet accumulated many positive experiences to counteract them.
Along with thinking that my dad was really smart, I didn't feel stupid about those incidents anymore. I spent the better part of a day in my room forgiving those faces I could still see in my mind. After forgiving all of them, I spent time blessing them. What my dad said gave me insight into how the experiences from my childhood could still bother or affect me now and, honestly, at times make me feel crazy.
They were lies the enemy would use often with me — "You're the only one; you're crazy; you don't fit in." The enemy often comes and reiterates all the things you already think are true. Because those self-doubts and perceptions about your faults are already within you, you give ear to that voice since there's some element of it that rings familiar. The apostle Peter warns, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
My relationships with the people I was encountering in my world helped to develop how I saw myself, but an even greater life-changing relationship was about to begin.CHAPTER 3
LEADING A CHILD
I don't remember going to church when we lived in Michigan, but I remember my parents watching programs on television by ministers like Robert Schuller and Kenneth Copeland. Those programs brought about a change in my dad.
My dad believed in God, but he didn't go to church at that time. He had been let down by experiences with hypocrisy in church. Later, he received teachings and met people who seemed more real to him. About that time I began to notice a Bible around our house, a study guide, and other evidence of what was happening in his life.
Not long after we arrived in Gulf Breeze, our family joined St. Paul United Methodist Church. Dad wasn't looking for a Methodist congregation specifically, but the Lord spoke to his heart and said, "This is where your family will go to church." It was a small congregation at that time with some older ladies whose constant prayers kept the church doors open. The church eventually grew to about three hundred people. Along with home, church became the place of big encouragement for me. Over the years the people there served as heartfelt cheerleaders in my life. I felt at home being a part of church.
The children in the church kids' programs were the first kids I began to connect with when I was little. The barrier that was between me and the kids at school wasn't there with the kids at church. It was different with them for some reason. I can't say I understand that completely. It wasn't like we were sitting around having deep theological discussions. We were just interacting in an easy way, having fun together in Sunday school and on the playground.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "I Am Redeemed"
Copyright © 2019 Michael David Weaver and Jim Scherer.
Excerpted by permission of Hachette Book Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Preface by Jim Scherer, xi,
1. The Great Liar, 3,
2. The Roots of Identity, 9,
3. Leading a Child, 15,
4. Each Has His Own Gift, 19,
5. Learning to Be a Friend, 25,
6. As One Man Sharpens Another, 31,
7. Show Me Your Mercy, 37,
8. In the Power of Signs and Wonders, 43,
9. The Plans I Have for You, 49,
10. Those Who Know You Trust in You, 55,
11. Directing Our Paths, 61,
12. Those Who Wait Will Renew Their Strength, 67,
13. Establishing Our Steps, 73,
14. Working in Every Circumstance, 79,
15. The Purpose of the Lord Will Stand, 85,
16. Journey to Freedom, 91,
17. God Breaks Through, 97,
18. Redeemed, 103,
19. His Power at Work, 109,
20. Beautiful Offerings, 115,
21. Acting on Faith, 121,
22. Aligning with the Heart of God, 127,
23. The Bonds of This World, 137,
24. All You're Ever Going to Need, 143,
25. Gold Refined by Fire, 149,
26. Love Binds All Together, 155,
27. The Authority Over All, 159,
28. Hope in This Life, 167,
29. Hope for Eternity, 175,
30. At the Bottom of the Ocean of Ourselves, 183,
31. What Only He Can Do, 189,
32. The Acorn in Us, 199,
About the Authors, 209,