We are a generation of do-it-yourselfers. From websites to home repairs to finances to relationships, we are conditioned to have endless resources at the touch a button, endless amounts of information with the click of a mouse and relentless expectations to be the next better thing now.
While such an environment creates a lot of self-reliant producers, it can also encourage people to cut corners. Our default is the quick-start guide. We push aside the full manufacturer’s guide, learn just enough to accomplish a task, and move on. As a result, we make and do a lot of stuff but the consistent preference of quantity over quality can put us in compromising situations when things don’t go as planned.
Chris August is a master do-it-yourselfer. Musically, he’s been ahead of the game since he started. Creative, quick-thinking and plugged-in, he claimed the Dove Award for New Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year following his debut release from Word Records in 2011. He was in demand, lauded and well on his way to a successful career in Christian music.
And then, things didn’t go as planned.
A freak skateboarding accident put him in the hospital, threatened his life and could have left him in an indefinite vegetative state. Fortunately, he began to recover. As his body healed, the doctors prescribed the normal, acceptable medications for his condition and pain management — and then prescribed more to help him manage those.
“My pill box was the size of a laptop,” Chris recalls. “It was crazy. I’d take one thing and then need another to deflect those side effects, and then another and another.”
At that point, Chris had enough; so he attempted to wean himself off one dose at a time. It was a valiant effort, but one that left its own mark on Chris’ already weary psyche.
“I was acting weird,” he recalls. “I just felt weird.”
His friends noticed, and they suggested he see a counselor.
“And the counselor suggested I see a psychiatrist,” he says with a skeptical tone, recalling his frustration and lack of hope at the time.
The psychiatrist’s diagnosis was onpoint with Chris’ condition — which found Chris at odds with his profession. Battling severe depression, as a Christian recording artist he now wondered how he was going to truthfully encourage hope into the lives of others.
“There’s this level of pride that we try to keep and maintain, especially with someone who does what I do,” he shares. “So many people think that [artists] have it together.”
Never one to put on a front, Chris knew he didn’t have it together, nor was he interested in pretending that he did.
“It was by far the hardest year of my life,” says Chris. “But that’s when a huge breakthrough happened.”
He was touring with Big Daddy Weave, who makes a point to have prayer and ministry with the people who attend their concerts every night. For Chris, who didn’t grow up in a church, this was foreign to him, at best.
“I became a Christian in my teens,” he shares. “But I had never seen Christians doing the things they were doing. I usually just went to church once a week, just like everyone else…and that was about it. This was unlike anything I’d experienced before.”
He saw people being healed—their bodies, their hearts, their lives.
“I’m just sitting here thinking, Man, I’m on all this medication, and half of the time I don’t
even think it’s working,” he remembers. “I said, I’m going to just ask the Lord to heal me of this.
“It wasn’t a gradual thing,” he clarifies. “It was an overnight thing. I woke up the next day, and I didn’t take one more pill; and I haven’t since. That doesn’t mean it’s not still hard at times. It also doesn’t mean that I can just sit back, do nothing and wait for healing to take over. I had to make steps and put in the effort, while walking through it with the Healer…the Maker.”
In that moment of healing, Chris threw out the quick-start guide and began devouring Scripture like he never had before. He studied Greek and Hebrew. He spent hours reading and re-reading that which he had discovered held his true healing. And day after day, as he dove into the Ultimate Manufacturer’s guide, he began to see, love and need that Manufacturer—that Maker—with a passion he’d never known before.
“I spent hours every day digging deeper,” he shares, “learning more about who God is and who I can be. I wanted it to be on my mind all the time.”
Daily, his thoughts, decisions, mood and purpose became oriented in a completely new way. So much so, that he scrapped a batch of songs he had in the works for what was, at the time, his forthcoming third studio album.
“I liked what I was working on, and it was very much in-line with Christian radio; but I felt like it would be a lie to put those songs out because that’s not at all where I was when I was going through this,” he shares.
Chris was in a place of experiencing healing in an era that often dismisses miracles as things that happened in biblical but not now. That led to the song “He’s Still Here.”
He was in a place of seeing his own faults, vulnerabilities, insecurities and mistakes and realizing the need to live in a state of grace while extending it to others. That was the foundation of the song “Drop Your Stone.”
He was also in a place of facing the reality of depression and making choices each day to either surrender it or let it overwhelm him. From there came the song “Muddy Waters.”
Track by track, the album, aptly called The Maker, tells the story of his own heart and the truth of who and Whose he is. Perhaps no song captures that more poignantly than the title track. With Scripture at the forefront of his life, He began to not only see the working of God in his own life but the presence of God throughout creation.
Everything that you have made is beautiful / Oh my God, I can’t believe my eyes…
– “The Maker”
As his eyes have adjusted to the view, the omnipresence of a healing, present God, Chris is digging deeper in every aspect of his life. From music to relationships to his own faith, Chris has embraced a life of surrender over a D-I-Y existence. No more quick-starts or shortcuts. He’s all in—committed to the stories, encouragement and hope within the ultimate guide and more aware than ever of his desperate need for the perfect love and redemption only the author of time can provide.
He’s not perfect. There are good days and bad days, and he will be the first to say that he hasn’t arrived at some spiritual precipice.
“I’m figuring it out like everybody else,” he says. “I just happen to be a guy who writes songs.”
Songs of revelation, songs of hope, songs of struggle and songs of victory…and within each one there lies the most fundamental and transformative truth of all time…
I love the Maker / And the Maker loves me.
– “The Maker”