This is Lecrae’s story, taken from I Am Second. Funny how God often uses our darkest moments and the depths of our suffering to give us a glimpse of his glory.

I remember when I was seventeen and a woman asked me if I was saved. I didn’t have any idea what she meant. Saved, what the heck was saved? The best thing I could think through was am I like my grandmother? And I adamantly told her no because I am not like my grandmother.

I do hip hop music. Its more than music it’s actually a culture; it is the lens by which you see the world. They are talking reckless, what you expecting from the walking dead.  It’s okay to be passionate, bold: it’s masculinity, it is what I do.  I used to sneak and watch rap videos in my grandmother’s house because I was too little and she wouldn’t have let me watch them. I would sit there and marvel late at night. I found people to look up to. There were no Barak Obamas, Martin Luther Kings or Malcom Xs, they had all passed away so I had Tupac. I’ve been trapped since birth cautious cause that I’m cursed, fantasies of my family in a hearse, and they say it’s the white man I should fear, but its my own kind doing all the killing here.

I wasn’t the greatest athlete, definitely wasn’t a scholarly student, I wasn’t the toughest guy, but being able to rap was my source of significance. I grew up wrestling with significance because my father and mother weren’t together. I never met my father; he became a drug addict and let his life crumble.  I felt like my dad was a piece of my life that I needed to have to feel like somebody. Having a single mother who worked a lot, she had to entrust me to the care of family members and different people a lot of the time. I experienced abuse as a kid and neglect and different kind of things so I just wanted significance and I didn’t feel like I would get it trying to be this well manicured, good, all around student and person.

The people I looked up to were gangsters. My uncle showed me a gun and I just wanted to be like those guys. I remember taking a bb gun and standing in the street pointing it to a car and I just saw the lady panic and freak out. For me that was fun, I didn’t have anything to do. I wanted to be back in the inner city, I wanted to be doing criminal activity so I kept rebelling and I kept doing worse. Drugs when I was 16 and fighting all the time. I got arrested in high school for stealing. What am I doing with my life? I got put on a gang list, I remember thinking man I guess I am I supposed to care? Went from drugs to drinking, I am a wreck, partying, I don’t fit anywhere. I am just this misfit of a person. My mother was like, “You just need to read your bible.”  I remember ripping the pages out of the bible and throwing it on the floor. I don’t want this bible. I couldn’t wrap my hands around this being true or real. My grandmother was a Christian and I remember having to go to church with her and it was older people. So for church it wasn’t about God, it was for them, it wasn’t for me. It’s probably not real; it’s probably something people use as a crutch. I think as the emptiness became more profound, when I had to drink and smoke more, find more and more women, when I was really in a really, really dark place…

5:46 in the morning tossing and turning, chest burning, sermons in my head keep re-occurring, having visions in my head of a kid crying at the feet of the father for all the wrong things that he did. Now I am sweating in my sheets, can’t sleep cause my mind keep telling me I am 6 ft deep. Don’t remind me, even though I am still alive I can tell the way I am living my life I am going to hell.

I got invited by a friend to a conference and I really am just more excited about being in the big city. More excited about there being girls and what the city brings, not really concerned about the conference. So when I get to the conference I see guys who had been shot from being in gangs, girls who were extremely promiscuous in the past, I see rappers, dancers and singers; I see people who came from the same background I came from, and they still embodied who they were culturally, but they were all in love with Jesus and I had never seen that before.

Then I saw another group and they were sold out for Jesus and they were rapping and you heard about it in their songs; and I was like, “What in the world?” And as I listened to the lyrics I was like, “I don’t know this, I don’t understand this God that they are talking about.” And then finally someone got up and said, “Do you know you have been bought with a price?” Then he told me the story of Jesus, and him carrying the cross and him bearing all my sin, all my lying, all of my cheating, all of my escapades, all of my drinking and drugging, and put it on his own back. He said I was bought with a price. It made me think, “Man, someone thinks I am significant enough to die for me. Someone thinks I am significant enough to climb up this mountain with a cross on his back and take nails in his wrists and his feet for me.” I remember articulating, “God get me out of this, don’t kill me; do whatever you have to do to get me out of this, just don’t kill me.”

I was driving down the highway and I turned too quick and lost control of the wheel and my car flipped over again and again. The roof caved in, the windshield caved in, no seatbelt, glass everywhere, my glasses I had on were molded into the frame of the car; and I didn’t have a scratch. That was it.  I said I get it. I called up my friends who I knew were living for Jesus and I said, “We got to make this happen. I am coming home.”

I saw change happening. I spent a lot of time searching for father figures, and just all the evidence, and God has shown me that ultimately He is my father. It drives me to keep pressing. I started volunteering at a juvenile detention center and some of those songs that I had written in my darkest times when I was crying out to God I would do for them and I would just see them sitting there weeping.  And time after time they kept requesting for me to do the song again, “I just need to keep holding onto that, because it’s something that would keep reminding me that I need Jesus.” And it hit me like, this is what I wanted to do, to use music to offer hope and encouragement to people.

I was created by God, but I didn’t want to be like him I wanted to be Him. The Jack Sparro of my Caribbean.  I remember the first created being and how he shifted the blame on his dame for food he shouldn’t have eaten. And now I look at us all out of Eden, wearing designer fig leaves by Loui Vuitton make believing. But God sees through my foolish pride, and that I am weak like Adam, another victim to Lucifer’s lies, but then in steps Jesus. All men were created to lead, but we needed somebody to lead us, more than a teacher, but someone to buy us back from the darkness, you can say He redeemed us.

I’ve learned to stay close to my source of significance and to my source of worth – and that is God.

My name is Lecrae and I am Second.