Often, we experience at least one moment that makes our lives swerve in a completely unexpected direction. In those moments, we have a choice.
Anne Wilson always had a dream to be an astronaut, and at 15-years-old she was already making steps toward that dream. But all at once, she was left in turmoil. Anne explains what happened in her interview on The Unfolding podcast.
It was the night of June 7, 2017, and Anne was sleeping when her older sister woke her up. Her sister was worried and told Anne she thought something had happened to their brother, Jacob. As the sleepiness cleared from her head, Anne saw the flashing lights of emergency vehicles outside her window.
There were six police officers outside her door with terrible news. Anne went downstairs and knew immediately what had happened. Both her parents were sobbing, and Anne asked, “Dad … is he dead?”
Her dad normally never cried, but he was sobbing as he answered, “Yeah, Anne, he’s dead.” Her 23-year-old brother, Jacob, had died in a car accident that night.
Anne said she didn’t even know how to breathe in that moment. It was as if everything was taken from her. Her older brother, her best friend, was gone.
Although Anne had been a Christian since she was 12-years-old, she had never heard God speak to her. But that night, His voice came to her for the very first time: “Anne, are you going to trust me, or are you not?”
It was a terrifying question. Her sense of control was knocked out of her hands, and now God was giving her a choice. A valuable choice. One that we all must make at some point.
In that life-altering moment, she turned to face the door with her hands open wide and stated, “Jesus, I trust you.”
Anne could feel how important those few words were. “That [sentence] was the hardest thing to say in that moment because I had no idea what was going to come out of it,” Anne said on The Unfolding.
But choosing to trust God was the best thing for Anne to do. She was afraid of leaping into God’s arms, but she knew that if He caught her, she would be held for eternity. And He did catch her.
That night, the family prayed, and Anne thanked God for loaning them Jacob for 23 years. There was no question that Jacob was in heaven, where he was met with the eternal joy and peace that God promises those who believe.
A few days after Jacob’s death, Anne was having a particularly difficult day. She decided to head downstairs to the family’s piano and sing “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong Worship. Her mom was surprised since she had no idea that Anne sang. And that was true: Anne didn’t sing.
Regardless, her mom said she wanted Anne to sing at Jacob’s funeral. They hadn’t been able to find a singer, and Anne was the perfect choice. After some prayer, Anne agreed to sing “What a Beautiful Name” at Jacob’s funeral that coming week.
On the day of her brother’s funeral, Anne was nervous. There were about 1,200 people attending, friends and family mourning the loss of her brother.
As she sat on the piano bench and started playing the first chords, she heard God’s voice for the second time in her life. He told her, “Anne, this is what I am calling you to do. I’m calling you to praise and worship my name.”
Thus, Anne had a new calling in life to sing and write Christian music.
Anne sang her heart out that day. “That song that I sang was the most powerful three minutes of my life,” Anne described. “I was worshipping with every ounce of my being.”
Afterward, she discovered that the audience loved her performance. Friends were even asking her for a video of the song. And so, Anne and a videographer friend recorded the song and posted it on YouTube.
Unexpectedly, the song went somewhat viral within a month. Anne was contacted by someone who later became her manager. He had seen her song and decided to message her on Instagram. She met with the manager many months later, but she believed it was too good to be true.
She stated on The Unfolding that her family had been through many trials after Jacob’s passing. Her dad had lost his job, and Anne had fallen out of bed and broken her arm. She had to get a major surgery done, and her family was in financial trouble at the time.
Life had beaten her down, and 15-year-old Anne just couldn’t see herself having a successful music career outside of being a worship leader.
Anne stated that she met with her manager without much hope. Yet, she told herself, “I don’t know what life is supposed to look like, but I will just follow [God’s] lead.” And with that mindset, she continued to pray, give thanks to God, and worship through each trial.
Not long after the meeting with her potential manager, she had an impactful moment with God. She was crying and reading her Bible when a song came on the radio. Listening to the song, she knew she was going to be a music artist. The next day, she began working with her manager.
After working on her music for some time, Capitol Christian Group met with her, and she signed on with them in November of 2019. Her new dreams were rapidly becoming a reality. It felt like so long ago that she had dreamt of being a NASA astronaut.
She says that when she lost Jacob, her longing to be an astronaut dissipated. “I think sometimes when we lose people, it can change our perspective and make us realize that life is very, very, very short.” Because of that, Anne knew she needed to spread the gospel.
Although she had the ability to spread the gospel in any job, she knew that worshipping God through music was her purpose. God had made that exceptionally clear since that night in June. Yet, life is hard. And Anne still mourns her brother deeply.
“I always feel this sense of Jacob smiling down on me,” Anne tells listeners on The Unfolding. Despite missing him, she knows he is watching her: “He’s in heaven, and he is a part of the great cloud of witnesses.”
Anne had several powerful experiences that reminded her of Jacob. One such instance was when the family was walking, and a group of ducks appeared seemingly out of nowhere, quacking and following them around. Jacob loved ducks. He was an avid hunter and loved nature.
Another moment happened about two hours after Jacob’s death. A dove sat at Anne’s window, and it faithfully stayed there until the funeral was done. Anne stated, “That was probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed.”
Through the sorrow, Anne realized she needed to trust God fully, in a way that she hadn’t before. She speaks about how we all are given free will, and a choice to either trust God or try to control the situation. Anne says that it’s not easy, “but I think that the Lord really blesses those who desire to trust Him in the midst of tragedy.”
Anne says she deeply relates to the story of Job. He had so much taken from him, but he chose God. As Christians, we know the God who created everything. Anne encourages Christians to turn to God in their struggles: “If we would just take a minute and wrap our heads around [who God is], then why would we not want to give Him … all of our faith and all of our trust?”
It is remarkable how Anne’s faith remains a strong pillar in her life. And she now gives that strength to others through songs like her hit song “My Jesus.” She tells listeners, “The deepest desire of my heart is to preach to people [so] that they can actually have a relationship with the Lord.”
As she was looking through her journals, she noticed that she always referred to Jesus as “my Jesus.” Anne said, “It’s such a privilege that I get to call Him ‘my Jesus.’” This discovery inspired her song.
In the end, through whatever pain we endure, and through the greatest of victories, we have the honor of being able to call our Savior “My Jesus.” Since He is our Jesus, perhaps we can trust Him a lot more when our lives take an unexpected turn.