I realized recently that I’ve been hoarding some material things in my shed that are no longer useful to me. In light of that revelation, I decided it was time to clean it out.

One of the most interesting objects I stumbled upon was my 1973 Academy of Country Music Award. Our band, Brush Arbor, won Best Vocal Group that year, along with another award for Touring Band of the Year. The two trophies went to our manager at the time, while the six members of the band went home empty handed. A year or so later, he presented each of us with a copy of the award.

For years, I’d kept that trophy in a protective case. I’d displayed it proudly in my living room. It had meant a lot to me. Yet now, it was lying unprotected in a box, with smudges and scratches on what used to be a shiny, polished surface. It’s funny how our values change over time.

For much of my life, I thrived on presenting myself with impressive credentials like,  “Academy of Country Music Award Winner!” “Toured with Johnny Cash!” “Appeared on the Grand Ole Opry!” “Worked onstage in Las Vegas!” Hearing those things made me feel important. And for some reason, they seemed to make other people think I was important too.

Today, however, I live in a one-room studio apartment right down the street from the Family Dollar in a small town with four stoplights, far from the attention and bright lights I’d craved.

I used to thrive on performance and recognition. My only goal was to be a country music star. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but anyone aspiring world fame for their own glory will find themselves headed to a dead-end life. I know. I lost everything I valued, all for the “glory” of my addiction to booze and low self-esteem.

But in that loss, I found something else that will never lose its value: I found Jesus.

These days, I understand how unimportant all those things are apart from knowing Christ. Like Paul says in Philippians 3:8: “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.”

When I turned my focus to Him, listened for His voice, and gave my musical talents to Him, I found living hope. I found a life of purpose. I found salvation and love that can never be taken away.

I no longer stand on large stages or travel the world. I live alone now; I even lost my little dog last year and my phone seldom rings. My stage is usually a prison yard or chapel.

The fast life with all that stuff I thought was important is far behind me, and I’m glad because now my life has eternal purpose. When I surrendered my musical talents to God and sought to use them for His glory, He gave me a front-row seat to seeing lives change from despair to hope… from death to life. There’s nothing greater.

Today, my desire is that I’ll live a life of faith that only seeks God’s approval, so that when the time comes and I enter heaven’s gates, He will greet me with these words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:23).

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve valued the things of this world over eternal things like knowing God. Maybe you’ve even got a shed full of stuff to prove it. Let’s empty our sheds and let go of our past. Let’s get to know Jesus. He is the only thing worth holding on to.