Country icon Jo Dee Messina, known for chart-topping hits like “Heads Carolina, Tails California” and “Lesson In Leavin’,” has not been much in the public spotlight over the last few years, let alone play a show at a venue as big as the Nissan Stadium. That’s because the last few years “has not been a typical life,” Messina shared at a press conference backstage during CMA Fest.
In 2017, it was announced that the 48-year-old singer was diagnosed with cancer. Following that announcement, Messina postponed her tour dates to 2018 to undergo treatment and has since returned to the road. Across the two-year span, she has released two faith-based songs; “Bigger Than This,” penned by Messina and Seth Mosley, and her stirring rendition of the highly-acclaimed Cory Asbury worship song, “Reckless Love.”
The outward expression of faith through music hasn’t always been the case in Messina’s career, and this change was sparked by the very moment that when “Jesus came to my front porch.”
“About five years ago, Jesus Christ walked onto my front porch… I was at an all-time low. I was trying to stay in a career and a lifestyle and a family and everything all on my own, and I couldn’t do it,” Messina recalls. “I was pulled way too thin, and so I was just standing on my porch one day, and Jesus Christ walked up said, ‘she’s mine.’ And I just knew it in the middle of that, in the middle of my spirit and my soul. I’m like that is Jesus. I didn’t know about him. I needed to learn more.”
Spurred by this strong desire to know The Lord, the Massachusetts native turned to her neighbor for direction and a greater understanding of Him. “I’m like, I know the stories. I know the Christmas and Easter, you know, he was born on Christmas, died and rose again on Easter. You know what I mean? But I didn’t know him. Just having that intimate relationship with God.”
And, as she embarked on this journey of faith, the singer-songwriter began to have a clearer picture of the immense love Jesus had for her, one that has been unwavering and unconditional. “Think of how many days that go by that we don’t even look in his direction, and he still sits there and loves us. That’s pretty amazing, and that’s a love we don’t understand. But I know that love personally,” Messina shared poignantly.
With growth in her faith and the comprehension of a divine love, it only felt natural to the country singer to cut Asbury’s “Reckless Love,” because the mother of two believes that “the message needs to be heard across the board” and God cannot be restricted to a “format.”
While Messina’s version did not receive much mainstream success on country and Christian radio, she remains unperturbed, and continues to make music that speaks to her heart.
“I just spent my entire career, my entire life glorifying myself. It’s time for him. He gets the glory for this going on.”
Although the journey ahead isn’t a promised bed of roses, there is a cornerstone that Messina clings with certainty—her faith, because “[when] you have the arms of Jesus there holding you, you never want to walk away from it.”