When I was a tiny newborn baby, my dad was a rock star. Literally.
A few years before I was born, my dad was in a band that toured with the Beach Boys. His group had a song that hit number two on the pop charts and he spent some time living (among other places) in Times Square in New York City.
A few years after he married my mom, in the months following my birth, my dad found Jesus. Or really, Jesus found my dad. Dad was a hippie rock star playing lots of awesome music and he walked away from it all to follow God.
As you can imagine, someone that entrenched in the rock and roll world must have a pretty intense love of music. Sure the lifestyle is glamorous (except when it’s not) but what got you there in the first place was music. My dad loves music.
This past weekend I was reflecting on my dad’s history as a drummer as I sat at a sold-out show watching him play drums (and bongos and cowbell). He was recently invited to play with a local big-time group (Ed Turner and the No. 9, for all you local yokels) that has raised thousands of dollars in charity and there was Dad, forty years later, still playing the music he loves so much.
My dad walked away from rock and roll when he heard Jesus call. He knew he couldn’t live that lifestyle anymore. But he loved music and those rock shows gave way to folk Mass and praise and worship music and the occasional jazz quartet with lots of family music time in the mix.
Sometimes I think it must have been quite a sacrifice, walking away from the allure of rock. My dad has always been quick to tell us that it’s no comparison, that the music was awesome but life in Christ is even better. As a Mormon-turned-rock-star-turned-hippie-turned-Catholic, he knows of what he speaks.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,” says Probers 16:3, “and your plans will succeed.”
Also on the stage that night was the main drummer of the band, my baby brother, the youngest of the eight Swenson kids. My dad stood just to his left and together they rocked out with the other members of the band — my sixty-something father and his twenty-something son.
It was absolute perfection.
Oh so long ago, my dad handed his plans to the Lord. And what he was handed back — not just this music but a happy marriage to a beautiful wife, and their children and children’s children and a life filled with faithful friends and unconditional love — these are all bountiful gifts from a generous God. Beyond what my dad probably ever dreamed he would have.
It can be scary to commit our ways to the Lord. What if God wants to take away from me the things I really love? What if he asks of me more than I can give? What if my life is boring?
“Anything less than the will of God for your life will bore you.”
My friend Fr. Tim shared that quote with me years ago and I thought of it earlier this summer when I was in Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica where Fr. Tim was celebrating Mass for me and Paul. There we stood, the three of us at a side altar, me and my husband and my husband’s best friend from forever who happened to be a priest celebrating Mass in one of the holiest Catholic places on earth.
God dreams bigger than we do.
Jesus asks for our Yes. He wants everything from us. When we trust him and let go of the tight grip we think we have on our plans, when we seek his will for our life, we will never be bored.
When our goal is to say yes to Jesus, he takes care of the rest.
This originally appeared in The Southern Cross.