Big Daddy Weave: Finding God’s Grace ‘When the Light Comes’
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With a new album, autobiography, and television reality show, Alabama-bred Big Daddy Weave seems to be riding a wave of unparalled success. But that success has not always come easy for the band who has garnered five number one hits including “Redeemed”, “Every Time I Breathe”, and their latest chart topper “Alive”.
The band is quick to say their success is based on hard work, the Gospel, and God’s grace. But the last few years have been far from easy for them. While death of a parent, infertility, a cancer diagnosis, and even the amputation of a band member’s feet could have easily derailed and broke this band apart, Big Daddy Weave has chosen to march on with their faith intact.
I recently sat down with Big Daddy Weave front man Mike Weaver to discuss all their new projects, what has held this self-proclaimed group of “church dudes” together for nearly 20 years, and finding joy in the places that hurt the most.
By my estimation, I have not interviewed you since 2010. It’s been way too long. But what it does tell me is that Big Daddy Weave has had a nice run of success in Christian music. What is it that has kept you guys in the spotlight all these years?
Mike Weaver: It's got be the grace of God. That sounds like a Christian cop out, but I am as serious as a heart attack, man. And I mean that. You don’t wind up in a band like Big Daddy Weave because you're an awesome planner. It's like you're shooting from the hip already, you know? And it's been that way. People ask us all the time, what is the deal with this longevity? What did you do? Well, we just didn't quit. That's the only thing. And we walked through the open door that was ahead of us. The Lord is the opener of doors that no man can close. That never made us the latest, greatest whatever. We've never been that.
But the Lord has done things through us since day one. We're just really grateful to Him because in and of ourselves, we're pretty messy on any given day. It's like we're taking turns just being messed up. I tell people all the time, it's like there's not one song on the record about our faithfulness to God but entire records are written about His faithfulness to us. That's what has sustained us for 21 years next month.
You have lots of things happening right now with the new album, When the Light Comes, your new book, I Am Redeemed, and if that’s not enough a new reality television series on TBN. How do you keep it all straight?
(Laughs) I don't think we do. I don’t think we are keeping it straight. But I love it though. My life verse is that talks about strength. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don't lean on your own understanding. My understanding gets us in nothing but trouble. Know him intimately in your ways and He will make your paths straight. I get wound up because all of these projects came out. They all released within a week and a half of each other. We could not have planned it like this. I think it's the Lord just wanting to get a message out right now. If you are going through a bad time, if you are going through a difficult season, you're living with that cliched spiritual response, and you're all out of words right now, I’m here to tell you that God is with you and He is still for you. Don't give up because this is not the end of your story. I think that's what He wants to say to us right now.
First, let’s talk about the new album … if you could pick an underlying theme for describing it what would it be?
Man, it's life in the valley of the shadow. Finding life in those places that hurt. Just previously to this, we had been in a season of miracles. We were just seeing God do things that I could hardly believe. But then at the same time I could believe it. I was seeing that grow in every member of Big Daddy Weave. And then I saw literally each of us go under an attack like we've never seen. I saw my brother's (bassist Jay Weaver) health be attacked. He has struggled with his health for a long time with a lot of unknown sorts of factors.
He would go to the doctor and they would not be able to explain some things. It made my brother feel like a science project. He has dealt with diabetes for a long time. He was given a medication. It was helping control some levels. But what they didn't realize was that same medication was creating complications that was inhibiting blood flow. When we found out about it there were only about 1,200 cases in the country of that medication having this effect on people where it caused them to have to have limbs amputated.
So, to save his life, the doctors had to amputate both of my brother's feet. This was right after a season of literally just seeing Jesus move in healing, specifically around my brother. My brother is praying for people and God is just doing things. And again, he's the first one to tell you, ‘Look, the power is all Jesus. It's Jesus doing stuff.’ But there were things that we were asking for. We were seeing them happen in front of our eyes in a very miraculous way. To see him go through that was a really difficult season for us to be asking for a healing that we weren't seeing at that moment. It was confusing. It was like, God, did we do something wrong? How do we get out of the way and let You work here?
We didn't see it the way we were asking for. It hurt really bad. We ended this time of being in the valley and there's this disappointment. Then the very next year after that happened to my brother, even as he's beginning to recover, my dad dealt with pulmonary fibrosis. He went home to be with the Lord on Christmas morning 2017. Then, after that, my mom got a cancer diagnosis. While all of this is going on, our drummer, Brian and his wife Kim had been dealing with infertility for the last nine years. We kept seeing their hopes get continually dashed. It was just a really difficult season. We're seeing God do things in the lives of other people (through our music), but we weren't seeing things in our own lives when we thought it would.
It was confusing and it was hurtful. We had a lot of questions. It became a time of a lot of why, why, why? And man, I've got to tell you, I have never received an answer to why. But when we began to stop and ask God, ‘Oh God, what are you doing right now?’ We would see Him working in a million different ways, every day. These songs from this record were born out of those kinds of encounters, born out of those times of, God, this is not something we could have asked for in this season, but we're encountering you in a way that is deeper than even in the season of miracles. It was incredible. It's one of those things I could never make myself ask for, but since it has happened, it has become invaluable in our lives and in our part of the journey, even as we relate to and minister to other people who may be in that season of the valley right now.
Every time we get to share about our hurts, we believe that the Lord is bringing a redemption to that season in our life.
Shifting gears, I would like to talk about the new book … I Am Redeemed. What can you tell me about it? Could you share your heart for writing it?
(Laughs) Being called an author is not really in my wheelhouse. Jim Scherer, who has been our manager for 18 years suggested it. This is the way a lot of these things start. I'll just have this thing churning in my heart that I can't get rid of. Stuff that keeps me up at night because I'm just like dreaming in the Lord. So, I just brought it to him and said I keep telling all of these different pieces of the story on different nights (of our concerts) and in different places and I see God use each of these things. I said to Jim, I feel like there's a book in there, but I am way too ADD to make this happen. Can you help wrangle this out of me?
He's awesome. He just started going through my stories with a fine-tooth comb. We sat for hours and hours -- literally from car trips, bus trips or just driving and talking to sitting in a hotel room -- him being in one city and me and another city talking for hours. Then, we would spend time in person together in Nashville chasing some of it as well. It could never have happened without him. I love listening to audio books so when I got to read the audio version that was my favorite part of it. I read the book from beginning to end in the audio version.
When I got to the end of the book, I was really moved because I really saw God’s faithfulness to me. He's been so faithful to me. I don't have any kinds of stories and songs about me being faithful to Him. But He has been so faithful to me. That has been such a blessing. Just knowing that God can use your brokenness and turn it into victory somehow for somebody else's is pretty powerful.
And what about this reality series on TBN? It’s not every day that someone gets a television show – in fact you have called yourself “just a bunch of church dudes who do music”. What can you tell me about When the Light Comes?
Man, this was the reality show that we did not ask for but it's such a blessing, even in the uncomfortable part of it for us, which is all of it for me. In the book and everywhere else, I talk about how uncomfortable I am in my own skin in so many ways. To have cameras following you around makes that even more uncomfortable. This is because we didn't try to pretty anything up at all. Matt Crouch from TBN called my phone. We talked for about an hour and a half about Jesus. He shared how the Lord had used some of our songs in his life. At the end of our conversation, after talking for a long time he said, ‘What I am telling you is you can have a TV show.’
I was like no, no, no, no dude. But the Lord had been preparing our hearts. It's showing us that we were going to get to share some of what we had been through in the last season. I had been through a season like that already, just sharing vulnerably about dealing with self-hatred. And I'd seen Jesus use my vulnerability. That's a load off first of all because we don't have to try to be something that we're not.
It’s the story of the last season of our life and what Big Daddy Weave has been up to, through the making of this record and then up to the release of it. It has been something else.
As we have been talking about it just seems like everything is happening all at once for you and Big Daddy Weave in a good way. What’s God been teaching you lately through all of this?
Oh my goodness. He is the source. For me, I live in the future or I live in the past, but Jesus is right here, right now. That's where He lives. He said, ‘I'm never going to leave you. I'm never going to forsake you.’ He'll visit the past with us, and He'll deal with old wounds. He holds the future in his hands. But where He is active right now is right here. And if we are living in the future or we're living in the past, the danger is we are missing right now. And so, Jesus is trying to get my attention so that I will live right here with Him in the present and find out what it is that He's doing.
He is with us on the good days and even more during the dark days. We've experienced the gamut of both of those. Either way, we have discovered that Jesus is life.
Watch a music video for Big Daddy Weave's latest single, "Alive":
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