Our Dreams, God’s Calling: Jaci Velasquez and Andy Harrison
Narrator: Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of the Jesus Calling Podcast! Before we get started, we’d love to tell you about an exciting deal on Jesus Calling products at a Parable Christian store near you! Right now, you can find the devotional Jesus Calling for Kids—now available in a pale pink cover or an outdoor adventure cover—marked down from $17.99 to only $9.97. Hurry into a Parable Christian Store near you or pick up a catalog to get this great deal before July 31st.
Jaci Velasquez: God has a plan, and it’s okay to not be okay at times. But just don’t get stuck there. It’s so easy to get stuck there. But God can turn anything for good, and He’s constantly working—trusting and knowing that He’s working and that you’re not in control. Trust the one that is.
Our Dreams, God’s Calling: Jaci Velasquez and Andy Harrison – Episode #208
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Have you ever had a dream that you thought God put in your heart only to realize that dream wasn’t a part of what He really had planned for you? Our guests this week saw the dreams they had give way to a bigger calling from God: singer Jaci Velasquez and worship pastor Andy Harrison.
Jaci Velasquez began a very successful career in Christian music at a young age, and along the way, as she grew into adulthood made some missteps she thought would shatter her dreams. Broken and feeling alone, Jaci held on to her faith and leaned into how God was rescripting her story. Fast forward and Jaci is married to the love of her life and has two beautiful children when once again, life takes a turn with the news that her oldest child has autism. Through the pain of wondering “why,” Jaci came to realize that God had called her to fight for her son and yet another rescripting of her story yielded a new purpose for the singer’s life.
Jaci Velasquez: Hi, I’m Jaci Velasquez. I’m a singer. I’m a songwriter. I’m an author. I’m an actress, depending on who you talk to. I’m married and we have two sons, Zealand is eleven and Soren is ten.
Going from “Why me?” to “Why not me?”
We got pregnant about two months after we got married with a little boy named Zealand. When Zealand was in second grade, we started noticing he wasn’t meeting the milestones of other kids his age, so we decided to get him tested, just to make sure that he was all good. So they said that he was delayed. So I was like, “I can deal with that. He’s delayed. He’s going to catch up. Right? He’s delayed. He’s fine.”
I guess it was kindergarten year, I learned a phrase I’d never heard before, which was called IEP—Individualized Educational Program. So they rolled out the red carpet. He was going to have help with so much stuff, and he was going to definitely catch up.
Second grade year rolled around, and they had to give him an official diagnosis, and this word had been bounced around before, but we were sticking with pervasive developmental delay.
So they sat us down at this big table in the school, the principal, the vice principal, people from the school district. The who’s-who was in this room. The pediatrician and the school concurred, and they told us, “Zealand is autistic.”
That hit me like a ton of bricks. That was pretty traumatic.
Of course, I broke down in tears, and I was like, “How can this be?” Because when I was pregnant with Zealand, he was living in my belly, and I knew for a fact, I felt it in my gut, in my spirit, that my son was going to have a ministry, that he was going to do something incredible for God, because surely he would. I mean, Daddy and I, we’ve been in ministry since we were kids. I mean, I started traveling and singing about Jesus and to Jesus, for Jesus from the time I was nine years old. I didn’t get to go to school. I didn’t get to go to prom. Surely my son is going to have a ministry in God. And it was not just me thinking that—it was God showing me that my sons would have a ministry. But how can you have a ministry if you can’t communicate?
So after that meeting, I remember we got home, and I was so angry with God, so angry with God. This deck of cards is not—this was not the plan. My son is not broken. Why me? Why me? I’ve dedicated my whole life to you. Why me?
It was about six months later I had to change my posture. I stopped asking the question, “Why me?” And I started asking the most important question, which was “Why not me?” Once I started asking that question, He didn’t chastise me. He just started talking and said, “Okay. Get up. You’ve been angry long enough. It’s time to get up. And it’s time to fight. You have to fight for Zealand.”
“I stopped asking the question, ‘Why me?’ And I started asking the most important question, which was ‘Why not me?’” – Jaci Velasquez
And if you know my personality, I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like to fight. I like to bury my head in the sand. It’s so much easier in life. Well, you can’t bury your head in the sand when your son is autistic, and when you have to fight for things for him because he can’t fight for himself.
It was a very difficult experience. And the reality is, we’re still walking this road. We’re not finished. I mean, Zealand is twelve years old. He just started middle school. It was a whole new team. I had to go fight for what his goals should be, how much prompting he needs. It’s hard, because I have to relive it each time, but I know that it’s necessary because I’m not the only one that’s gone through it.
A Life Different from What We Pictured
When you have a child with special needs, at times you feel like an island. You feel so isolated because it’s like, How can anybody understand? I have felt many times like an island, I feel like, How can anybody understand this? That they don’t know my world. They don’t understand my story. They don’t understand my son. Because with autism, the unique thing about it is every autistic child is so different.
So I think that when you have a child with autism, you have to develop a tribe. I think the main goal for people that have friends that have children with different abilities is to be a shoulder, to be a listener. Because until you’ve walked until you walk down that road or walked in their shoes, you can never truly understand what it feels like, what they’re going through.
God is faithful. We can trust. And sometimes what He wants for our lives and what He wants for our families and for everything looks different than what we had pictured. So we make plans, we write these scripts for our lives, and have these dreams of what our lives are going to look like. And then God interrupts those. But His interruptions are very good. It’s about listening and waiting for the interpretation for this interruption. That’s the hard part.
“Sometimes what He wants for our lives and what He wants for our families and for everything looks different than what we had pictured.” – Jaci Velasquez
“Lord, How Is This Part of My Story?”
I think it’s pretty incredible how often we need reminders of God’s Word and God’s promises, because we live in a very dark world. So I love when you have devotions like this, where it’s like just snippets of what God is trying to show you, what God is intending for your life. The devotion of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, I remember it was a gift from, I want to say, maybe my grandma. She sent it to me. And it was perfect for that time in my life.
For me, it’s hard as a mother to just really, you know, sit there and just do Bible study-type devotions. So it’s been really good for me, because I’m able to have a better understanding of what God is trying to show me through scripture.
There are times when it’s so easy to dive in and get intimate with the Lord through His Word. And then there are days we just feel like you’re just pressing, like, What is going on? But we have to continuously dive into what God is trying to show us.
“We have to continuously dive into what God is trying to show us.” – Jaci Velasquez
God, He craves intimacy with us. He wants to reveal Himself to us in a beautiful, deeper way than ever before. And He does that by way of scripture and prayer. His Word is the Living Word. It will not go void. But we have to take that step to just take the time to sit down and rest in His Word, read His Word, meditate on His Word. And our lives can be transformed through that. I can’t encourage you enough to just take time for the Word. Take time to read. Ask Him after you’re done reading it, “What are You trying to show me, Lord? How is this part of my story? Show me who I am through Your Word.”
[Jesus Calling] February 17th:
I am the Risen One who shines upon you always. You worship a living Deity, not some idolatrous, man-made image. Your relationship with me is meant to be vibrant and challenging as I invade more and more areas of your life. Do not fear change, for I am making you a new creation, with old things passing away and new things continually on the horizon. When you cling to old ways and sameness, you resist My work within you. I want you to embrace all that I am doing in your life, finding your security in Me alone.
It is easy to make an idol of routine, finding security within the boundaries you build around your life. Although each day contains twenty-four hours, every single one presents a unique set of circumstances. Don’t try to force-fit today into yesterday’s mold. Instead, ask Me to open your eyes so you can find all I have prepared for you in this precious day of Life.
It’s difficult in life, because when you sin and you make choices that you made out of either selfishness or lack of content, it’s hard at times because you’re walking in disobedience. I have walked that road where it’s like I’m making a choice, because, God, I don’t trust you enough to make the right choice for me. So I’m going to do it myself. And the hardest part is when you walk down that road and you realize that it was a mistake and it was a misstep, that you were what you were not walking in the will of God.
It feels like you can’t forgive yourself because of the shame, because of how stupid you feel. What was I thinking? And the reality is He went to the cross and took our sins with Him. He forgives you sooner than you forgive yourself. So why do we continue putting ourselves on the cross?
“He forgives you sooner than you forgive yourself. So why do we continue putting ourselves on the cross? “ – Jaci Velasquez
There are times when I look back at the choices I’ve made and I still kind of go, What was I thinking? Instead of going, Man, God has so much grace for me. He’s forgotten. He forgave. He forgot. Who do I think I am that I can’t forgive and forget?
So that’s a trap that we as human beings can walk in and stay there. It’s okay to acknowledge that, Yes, I made a poor choice. But don’t get stuck there. That is an unhealthy place to be. I have done it. That’s why I can say it. We can’t put ourselves on the cross when He went to the cross for us.
So I have a book that released October 2019, and it’s called When God Rescripts Your Life. It’s a collection of stories of my personal life along with stories taken from the Bible and different characters within the Bible [whose lives] God has rescripted. So I feel like my life was rescripted many times, sometimes based on my own choices, sometimes based on what God had in store. Plans that I didn’t see coming, things I didn’t see coming, things that I ran towards that we’re not healthy for me. I guess the reason I wanted to write this book now was because of the fact that I know that I’m not the only one [whose story] God has rescripted. Our stories are constantly being rescripted. But He is the great Author, so the hardest part is walking in obedience to within the script that He has in place for you. Sometimes we try to take it into our own hands and try to write our own story.
God is going to interrupt our plans. He’s going to change our stories. He’s going to give us a script for a story in our life that we just didn’t see coming, that we don’t know how to navigate. I think it’s so important for us to embrace the interruption, but listen for His interpretation.
Our dreams and God’s calling are not always the same thing. So I think it’s important to listen for His voice, to listen for His plan, and be patient and wait. That doesn’t mean to sit and be lazy and wait. It means to lean into Him, ask for His interpretation, ask for His plan, and to not confuse the two, our dreams and God’s calling.
“Listen for His interpretation. Our dreams and God’s calling are not always the same thing.” – Jaci Velasquez
I’ve had so many dreams for my sons, but they may not turn out the way that I have dreamt them. So I have to trust that they’re going to walk in the light and that God has a specific calling for their lives. It may look different than my dream or what I think for them, but I trust and know that God loves them more than me. And He has a calling. And I know that He is going to see that fulfilled in their lives if they walk in obedience and listen for His interpretation.
Narrator: Jaci’s new book called When God Rescripts Your Life is available now wherever you buy books.
Stay tuned for Andy Harrison’s story after a brief message about the great work that happens on behalf of military service members, veterans, and first responders through The Gary Sinise Foundation.
Ad: The Gary Sinise Foundation works to keep our defenders and their families strong each and every day. Join us as we show the pride and gratitude of our nation to all of its heroes. While we can never do enough for our defenders, veterans, first responders and the loved ones who sacrificed right alongside them, we can always do a little more. To make a donation, visit GarySiniseFoundation.org.
Narrator: As he was growing up on the Australian island of Tasmania, Andy Harrison remembers he heard about God—he just didn’t know Him. But after a trip to summer camp as a teen, and later a worship conference, Andy felt a calling that he’d found his people, and he dreamed of being like the new mentors in his life. Today, Andy has become that leader for so many young people looking for purpose and hope, and he’s written a new book and album, both called Jesus Over Everything, that he hopes will remind teens that when they don’t know where to turn, Jesus will always be there to guide them and give them purpose.
Andy Harrison: Hi, everybody. My name is Andy Harrison, and myself and my wife Susanna are the youth pastors of Planetshakers Youth Ministry, and I’m also one of the drummers for Planetshakers Music, so I’m involved in everything to do with young people and then everything to do with music. And I love the mix of the two, because our whole lives get to be about helping young people encounter God, and a lot of the time it’s through the creative arts and through music.
“God Had Something More for Me”
I grew up in Tasmania. So for those of you not from Australia, Tasmania is the little island down south of Australia. It’s kind of like our version of Alaska. It’s the coldest part of Australia, and it’s a little bit more remote. But I grew up in an awesome Christian family. My parents [are] great people, planted in church. And I grew up going to church every week.
I started getting drum lessons when I was quite young, when I was actually six years old. And so by the time I was maybe ten or eleven, I was actually playing drums in our little family church. But I would say that, you know, even through those years of being a kid growing up in church, it probably wasn’t all that real to me. It was just something we did as a family. I explain it to young people now as I knew a lot of things about God, but I didn’t know Him for myself.
“[Growing up] I knew a lot of things about God, but I didn’t know Him for myself.“ – Andy Harrison
So when I was thirteen, I went to a youth camp, and I didn’t go there to encounter God. If I’m honest, I actually went there because there was a girl that I was interested in, and she was going to the camp. But I went to hang out with my friends and do these things, but, you know, I didn’t realize that God had something more for me at this camp. And I really encountered Jesus for myself. And it was actually because in worship, I was watching other young people around in worship, and I began to realize I was missing out on something. They all seemed to know something more than I did. And well, that was enough to really stir my heart, to want to know God in that moment, and through that, to give my life to Jesus, ask Him to forgive my sins, and step in a right relationship with God. And that camp completely changed my life as a thirteen year old.
I went back home and I really made that a simple decision. “God, if what I just encountered of you is who you are, if you’re that good, then I don’t want anything else but you. I just want to know you more in my life.” And so through my high school years, I began to really chase after God and want to know Him, and because of that, to want to see other young people come to know Him as well.
Becoming the Hero for Someone Else
So I had many heroes growing up, particularly in regards to my faith. And actually the most significant for me—and a big part of my story—is that I ended up coming to Planetshakers conferences. Planetshakers started as a youth conference, and it was run in a different city from where I grew up. But I had a youth leader who had come from that city. He was saying to me one summer, “Hey, I’m gonna go back for this youth conference called Planetshakers, you should come with me. Some of the guys should come with us.” And I didn’t know what it was, but [I said], “Sure, I’m not doing anything in summer, I’ll come to this youth conference.” And I just remember walking into this building with about 3,000 young people in it. They were going absolutely crazy. They were so passionate for God, they were so loud, and they were expressing what I felt about God on the inside. And I thought to myself, “These are my people.”
And really, from that moment, that really impacted me. So I remember seeing Pastor Russell and Pastor Sam—who are now my senior pastors—I remember watching them preach at that Planetshakers conference, watching the Planetshakers band play. And I remember thinking to myself, I want to be like these people. Fast-forward a few years, and I’m now a part of this Planetshakers ministry, which is now a church with a youth group. And not only that, but I recently preached at Planetshakers Conference. I got to preach to the very conference that changed my life. And I thought, God, you’re so good. You gave me heroes growing up that have now become significant people in my life and have greatly impacted my life. So I’m very grateful for that.
“Everything We Need Is Found in Jesus”
You know, I think young believers, young people, are so important. Young people are the future. Young people are creative. Young people aren’t always as held back by their past. Young people are used to learning and growing. And that’s why when we can apply faith to all of that and the things of God, it can become so powerful because they can grow so quickly.
“I’m really passionate about seeing young people encounter Jesus, because that was the season in my life where I came to know Him, and I want to see other young people come to know Him, too.” – Andy Harrison
So our first album with Planetboom is called Jesus Over Everything, and it actually goes with a book that I recently wrote, also called Jesus Over Everything. It was a little bit of an accident, almost, that we wrote that book. It was just a God idea that dropped into my mind. And once I said yes to God, then He began to reveal the rest of the plan. And each one of the chapters of the book matches with one of the songs from the album and it’s really the message of how to live out the song, the words of the song. These worship and praise songs, they’re not just songs. They’re actually about living a lifestyle of praise and worship, living to please Jesus, living to put Him over everything—not just in a worship moment, in a service, but in every moment of our lives.
And so I wanted to give young people some practical tools and tips about how to actually do that when I’m at school, how do I do that when I’m not surrounded by other Christian people? And so I think it’s really powerful. It’s filled with stories from our youth ministry and from my own life, and it goes with this music to really equip young people to know Jesus and then to put Him over everything. He is more important. He is the highest priority.
Everything that we need is found in Jesus, you know? And so I think when we take God out of the equation, we begin to look for a replacement. And as a generation, the world is trying to teach a generation with things that are replacements for who God already is.
“Everything that we need is found in Jesus.” – Andy Harrison
In my book, Jesus Over Everything and in the song from the album Jesus Over Everything, we talk about the gods of this generation—how there are things that the world has raised up as these replacements. And we try and look to them as if they’re going to provide what we need, when we already have God, who wants to provide legitimately and authentically everything that we really do need. And so our joy is found in Him. When we find Jesus, we find real life. And, you know, we just encourage our young people that as they get to know God for themselves, there’s such joy in praise. Any time we get focused on ourselves, all we notice weakness and we begin to doubt. But when our focus is back on Jesus and who He is, a natural response, natural result, is joy.
Jesus: Someone We Can Relate To
Now, I love the book Jesus Calling, and I love that it’s really simply all about the emphasis that God is the one who draws us near to Him and we are the ones who need to respond. It’s really the same message of putting Jesus over everything as well. We are just responding to Him and who He is. And, you know, something that I really loved from that book was how personal Jesus is. This is a personal invitation from Him to us, and Jesus is someone I can relate to, rely on, lean on. And He’s got everything I need.
I want to read a passage from Jesus Calling from the date February 4th, it says:
Bring Me your weakness, and receive My Peace. Accept yourself and your circumstances just as they are, remembering that I am sovereign over everything. Do not wear yourself out with analyzing and planning. Instead, let thankfulness and trust be your guides through this day; they will keep you close to Me. As you live in the radiance of My Presence, My Peace shines upon you. You will cease to notice how weak or strong you feel because you will be focusing on Me. The best way to get through this day is step by step with Me. Continue this intimate journey, trusting that the path you are following is headed for heaven.
For me, what really resonates through this passage is what I was saying before, how personal Jesus wants to be in your life. You know, the fact that He is our peace and that as we focus on Him, He’s the one who personally wants to guide us. He wants to speak to you today, and He wants to guide you through whatever you’re going through. You’re not alone in that. Jesus wants to work with you.
I want to take a moment just to encourage any young believer listening right now. God has such a great purpose for your life. Psalms 139 talks about how before you were even born, God had written out the days of your life. And He’s got great things for you. And I want to encourage you right now, I think the key is, How do I know what those things are? The key is seek Him. Matthew 6:33 talks about, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” And I want to encourage you to be a young person who seeks Jesus over everything. Seek Him over the approval of your friends and family. Seek Him over, you know, a good future, a workplace or a job or promotion or good grades in school. Even more important than those things, and your own success, is seeking Jesus. In Him, you’ll find the purpose for your life and you’ll find everything that you need.
Narrator: You can learn more about Planetshakers’ new album and the book Jesus Over Everything at planetshakers.com.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we speak with authors and advocates Jay and Katherine Wolf. After miraculously surviving a near-fatal brainstem stroke at age twenty-six, Katherine Wolf’s life changed forever—and so did the way she and her husband Jay viewed God, the world, and themselves in it. But Katherine and Jay learned that suffering is not the end of the story—it’s the beginning of a new one.
Katherine Wolf: We’ve created this idol of joy only coming in a pain free life. And I’m here to disrupt that lie, that idol, that joy can only be found when life is pain-free and not when life is painful, where there is tremendous joy.
Jay: There is the goodness of God to be found maybe even more profoundly in the midst of our suffering—not in spite of them, but because of them.
Narrator: Want to hear more inspirational stories of people who have been changed by a closer walk with God? Then subscribe today to the Jesus Calling Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And please be sure to leave a review, which helps us reach and inspire others with these stories. Plus, if you like seeing our guests as well as hearing them, you can find video interviews available on our Youtube channel at youtube.com/jesuscallingbook, on Facebook, and on the Jesus Calling Instagram page.