Crush Me Like a Wave
In October 2011, Travis Lawrence found himself flat on his back at a friend’s house wrestling with God. At the time, he was in the throes of an addiction to alcohol, and he was losing. His buddy had just offered him a midday beer, and Travis was overwhelmed with guilt and shame at the idea of drinking it.
This was not normal for him at the time. This was the Lord.
“I’ve never felt something with such force,” said Travis. “It was beyond heavy, and it was relentless. The weight of conviction took me down to the ground on the floor. It was total conviction of what I was doing at the moment and the Lord saying, ‘Enough is enough.’”
“It felt crushing. I felt like at that moment that things were going to have to change. I can always best describe that as being crushed by a wave and pulled out to sea.”
Travis’ idol had become his best friend, and he knew he had to let it go. But the thought of doing so stirred up powerful emotions: a crippling fear of no longer having a way to medicate his thoughts, grief at having to give up something that meant so much to him.
“It literally felt like I was having to mourn the loss of my best friend,” Travis said.
Stake Your Claim
In his mid-20s, Travis found himself drawn to alcohol at the same time his career in music blossomed. He traveled up to seven months of the year as a bass player in a Christian band and used alcohol to comfort his feelings of intense fear and anxiety.
“That was a continual tug on my heart,” said Travis. He knew that drinking was becoming his idol, a false source of comfort. “Being in front of an audience spreading the gospel through music but then knowing what I was going to do back in the hotel by myself or when I got home. It was hard. I did a lot of justifying during that time.”
“Through the fear and anxiety and habitual sin in my life, Christ was still my Lord and my Savior. I had not lost my salvation.”
Travis was raised in what he describes as “a typical Christian home.” He went to church and knew the gospel at a young age. His relationship with the Lord grew deeper as the years rolled on. But so did his vice.
A beer here, two drinks there—Travis wasn’t attending raging parties or getting drunk every night, but his trajectory didn’t look good. He was drinking almost every day.
Quitting the band and trading his bass for a desk gig didn’t change Travis’ drinking habits. In fact, he began to drink more because he no longer had a place to escape from his anxieties and fears like he did while on the road. He had panic attacks at his new job. He went home at lunch feigning illness. The anxiety overwhelmed him.
“I realized the problem whenever I found myself from time to time waking up in the morning and taking a shot or two to start the day,” said Travis. “I knew that was not normal. Also feeling angry when I didn’t get to drink at the end of the day.”
It was during this time of despair that the Lord laid Travis flat on his back at his friend’s house. The Lord reminded Travis of His claim on his life.
“Through the fear and anxiety and habitual sin in my life, Christ was still my Lord and my Savior. I had not lost my salvation,” said Travis. “He was still with me, but I had been turning my back and selfishly kind of wanting to medicate myself the way I wanted to.”
That very day in 2011, after nearly a decade of wrestling with alcohol, Travis’ buddy put him in a car and drove him to The Village Church where he was a Covenant Member. Travis confessed everything to his pastors. Then his friends. Then his girlfriend. Then he made music about it.
But he’d never made music like this.
You Broke Through
Travis is, in his own words, an “over-analyzer” when it comes to tunes. It can take him weeks or months sometimes to write songs. The one he wrote after confessing his sins and seeking professional counseling felt inspired, though. It only took him 10 minutes to write “Never Be the Same.”
“I was in my room by myself with a guitar,” said Travis. “It came after a long counseling session one day. The lyrics poured out….It was like I’d already written the song, and I was just kind of singing it. It was a sweet gift from the Holy Spirit during a moment in my room thanking the Lord for His promise.”
Travis’ anchor was the Lord, and his medium was this song. It is not unlike the psalmist who writes in Psalm 107:22 of his response to the Lord’s greatness: “And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!”
I’ll Never Be the Same
After his confession and songwriting, the grace of God overwhelmed Travis.
“There was no more running,” said Travis. “My problem was no longer a secret. I knew the Lord’s mercy and grace fell upon me, knowing my sin was exposed. Because of that, knowing I would never be the same.”
Despite a relapse after his initial confession, Travis has been sober now for five years. He is very confident of where his hope is found, but even still he is stupefied by the idea that, more than 2,000 years ago, God became man and paid the price for his future sins.
“How someone could love me so much after so many times of turning my back away is beyond me. The Lord is relentless with His love.”
There’s a beautiful line about this grace in the song: “My chains are gone. They fell away like embers from a burning tree.”
“Once again the Lord was showing me that the cross is enough,” Travis said of these words, “that the cross is powerful enough to cover any sin. How someone could love me so much after so many times of turning my back away is beyond me. The Lord is relentless with His love.”
Let the New Begin
“Never Be the Same” became central to Travis preaching the gospel to himself and reminding himself of God’s goodness—even if he didn’t mean for it to happen that way.
“I wrote it, and that was it,” Travis said. “It was never something that I had planned on ever doing anything with, but the song kept resurfacing. Every once in awhile, I would start humming it. The lyrics came back to me. It meant a lot to me. From time to time, I was reminded of God’s love and where I came from and where I’m going.”
The Lord rescued Travis from a destructive, hopeless path and set his feet on a new track. Now Travis has a song that tells his story from beginning to present, with a lot of narrative still left to write.
But because of the cross and God’s infinite grace, he already knows how it ends.