Nothing Is Wasted: Thoughts On A Music Video


I’m grateful to be able to announce the official “Nothing Is Wasted” music video! Several weeks ago, I wrote a piece about how “Nothing Is Wasted” came to be chosen as the next single and why a new mix was made for radio.(You can read that here.)

Once it was decided what the next single would be, our talk turned to what kind of concept would shape the video to accompany it. We decided to gather the team who brought “Remind Me Who I Am” to life: Doug McKelvey and Darren Thomas as well as Jonathan Richter, whose art I’ve admired for years (check out Doug and Jonathan’s remarkable collaboration, “Subjects With Objects”—a book of Jonathan’s paintings and Doug’s interpretations).

The idea was to create a miniature world with scenes of brokenness and loss that I would sing over as an outside observer. As we talked about what kinds of symbols to use in our wasteland, we hoped to strike the balance of images that were not too obvious or heavy handed but that still had emotional resonance.  We brainstormed a list of visual elements we hoped would gently evoke loss and regret.

Having just read Brennan Manning’s All Is Grace, it was important to me to include a symbol of failure and addiction.  Around the same time, I played for the St. Paul Union Gospel Mission on the coldest day of our Minnesota winter. The place was packed with people trying to get off the street and find warmth. The mission had printed out some poster-style flyers for me to autograph for those who wanted them. When I asked each of the men who came through the line who I could sign their picture to, every one of them asked me to inscribe it not to themselves, but to someone who loved them, someone they had failed, someone waiting for them. Their desire to give something—anything—to someone they loved moved me deeply. I think of them and Brennan in the broken saint statuettes next to the liquor bottles.

Two of my favorite images are a couple that Doug and Jonathan came up with: the downed air balloon and the red tricycle. The balloon registers as sad in my mind, but without feeling melodramatic or morbid. What does it represent? Disappointment? Dreams that never fully got off the ground? Failure? And I wondered what the back story behind the red tricycle was. Because of how subjective it is, I imagine its resonance depends on what you bring to it: if you miss your child who’s grown up, or if you ‘re worried about poor choices your child is making, or if you have regrets as a parent, or even if you’ve lost a child. It’s remarkable to me how choosing such a simple visual piece opens the door to let so many different stories inside.

It's a wrap: Doug, me, and Darren

It’s a wrap: Doug, me, and Darren

I write the songs I need to hear, and “Nothing Is Wasted” is indeed a very personal song I wrote from my own experience. But I also keep specific people in mind when I write as my way of helping keep me honest. It’s too easy to throw answers at other people’s pain. Hope can be lethal, and those who aren’t mindful of that can be cruel in their mishandling of it, like a fool madly waving a scalpel around in an operating room. If I dare presume to be so bold as to make the statement that nothing—nothing!—is  wasted, then it needed to be grounded by compassionate respect for very real loss. So I imagined the song as a conversation with two very precious people in my life who lost their eight-year-old son to cancer a little over four years ago.

Watching the way they bravely continue to trust God and how they bring their hearts to the world around them when it would be easier to curl up inside of themselves—wow. I feel honored to have a front row seat to such a courageous story. Do I really believe “Nothing Is Wasted” for Tom and Deb? Do I dare presume to say that from their deepest wounds beauty will find a place to bloom? Is this hope true or is it just wishful thinking? Though the song is not specifically about the loss of a child, remembering my friends revealed where the words needed softening as well as gave substance to the hope they whispered, because if it’s true of their story, then it may be true of mine, too: nothing is wasted.

Doug knows that this is how I write songs and he has kindly made it a part of the storytelling of our last two videos: the pictures taped to my guitar in “Remind Me Who I Am” as a representation of the stories of others I carry with me, and now the camera that projects me into the miniature world of “Nothing Is Wasted,” letting me enter it, so I can sing into the scenes of brokenness and loss.

It’s nice to have a friend like Doug.

The miniature world and the visual effects were created by Jonathan Richter, and the shots were set up and filmed by Doug and Darren. I just got to show up and try to not look like a fool. Even with my best trying, it took considerable editing to keep me from being an embarrassment to myself. Again, it’s good to have a friend like Doug.

Richter's World

Richter’s World

Over a Skype call in late January, as we were wondering how the video would end, we found our way to the idea of flowers blooming in the wasteland. I wasn’t sure how we would pull it off visually, but trusted Jonathan to bring it to life. The closing shots are my favorite part about the video.

I hope you like it, and that if it’s a truth you need to be assured of, that it rings true and brings comfort.

Thanks for watching and listening.

The “Nothing Is Wasted” remix (compliments of Ben Shive) is now available on iTunes (The EP features the new mix plus 4 other songs that were previously only available as part of the Special Edition)


Jason Gray is a recording artist with Centricity Records. His latest single, out now, is "When I Say Yes".


  1. Brenda Branson

    I love this video so much. It brings all sorts of emotions to the surface that have been buried to avoid painful memories. It hurts, but its a good hurt that precedes healing. So good to see the flowers blooming in all the broken places.

  2. Anne Marie

    Thanks for posting such a beautiful piece of art. Even though I had heard the song before, today I heard the words for the first time.

  3. Charr

    Such a beautiful testimony.. thank you tor sharing. “Nothing is Wasted” touched my heart in such a way but I can’t begin to find the right words of how it moved me. God bless you Jason.

  4. Clay

    I already liked the new bridge better both musically and lyrically, but “hope can be lethal” gave it powerful meaning. “Every broken piece is gathered in the heart of Jesus and what’s lost will be found again.” That’s beautiful truth in musical art.

  5. Loren Warnemuende

    I’ve loved the song since it came out the other year and have been able to pass it on to hurting friends since…it so gently comforts with strong truth. I appreciated discovering the backstory a few months ago, and now it’s wonderful to have some behind-the-scenes on the video as well. I’m a sucker for the story behind the story 🙂 .

  6. LauraP

    This is beautiful, Jason. Really beautiful. I loved this song long before I met Deb and Tom, and knowing them and their story now adds a another deeper layer of beauty to a song that already meant a great deal to me. Keep after that honesty in what you write and sing and say. It does indeed ring true.

  7. Jeff Lane

    I really liked the video and felt especially drawn to the red tricycle to me which represented some of the harder times in my life but then the line which says “in the hands of the Redeemer Nothing is Wasted lets me know that good can come out of trials and that He redeems the whole not just parts of us. Thanks Jason.

  8. Carla R

    I love this song and the video just made it even better for me. The truth in the song and the video is wonderful and I love the sowers and the blooming flowers at the end. Every once in awhile there is a song that just speaks of the heart of Jesus and I feel like this one does.

  9. Laurie

    Jason, I can hardly even tell you how much this song has ministered to me since the day my 25 yr old married daughter was raped in her Navy base housing by another sailor, while her husband was deployed. My daughter and her husband had met at Bible college and had been married just over 2 years. After the crime, their lives (still separated by 6 more months of deployment) were filled with a deep brokenness and the perpetrator was ‘protected’ by the military with basically no punishment. My son-in-law’s faith was shattered…..and he says there is no ‘hope’ now. Your lyrics about HOPE, especially where you say “When hope is more than you can bear, And it’s too hard to believe it could be true, And your strength fails you half way there, You can lean on me and I’ll believe for you….” Besides knowing that “Nothing is Wasted”, those words about HOPE are what my daughter and me hold on to, while the Redeemer works. Thank you for expressing Jesus’s heart so tenderly to us. [p.s. I saw you at the Cup O Joy in Green Bay, WI — awesome!]

  10. Karen Renee Powell

    Jason … I fell in love with this song at one of your concerts. In fact, that song drew me to the Rabbit Room after reading one of your articles. Since then, I have been encouraged to tell my own stories. God leads us down the richest paths!!! Thanks for your brave storytelling.

  11. Lajla Hanson

    I had the privilege of being at the Union Gospel Mission on that day you are talking about. What a beautifully powerful and moving experience it was…

  12. maky

    Jason, I can’t see through the tears at the moment, nor do I feel words could truly say what I want them to. When I first heard this song it moved through my broken story and entered that of those I love, weaving His redeeming wholeness in a way I could feel and almost see. The video brought that to life. This song touches rawness in a way that heals rather than hurts, so many reach out into others’ pain (in love, I believe) and cause even more hurt, thank you for being so sensitive to pain! It’s like the heart beat of our loving Father can be felt and heard, as if the listener is wrapped in His embrace, head on chest…. When I have been at my darkest place I have so struggled to believe that God cared and that He loves me, thanks for speaking softly to that fear.

  13. Julie Langmade

    Beautifully done! As I watched, memories of my own places of ruin arose but somehow all I could see were the beauty that grew from those places. Thanks for the reminder that truly Nothing is Wasted.

  14. Natalia

    This video is an art itself.. so are the lyrics and the music.. put those three together and surely is a MASTERPIECE that gives hope and comfort to many who are hurt, confused and humiliated by the “wasteland”. I admire how carefully you guys chose the miniature parts that are able to touch the inner man of each of us giving room for identification, reflection and meditation. Surely that allows God to bring seeds of joy in the midst of sorrows… love the part when the flowers brighten up the wasteful ashes … WOW, you guys released the Message! well done Jason and the team !!!
    “ Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you”John 16:22 – Will never think again of this verse without having your song in my mind!

  15. Julie

    Such a beautiful song and story…. so glad we get to be a real part of it. This song is such an encouragement to keep hoping, keep persevering. And the video really adds to it, instead of detracting from its simple message. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing it!

  16. Jan Gunderson

    Jason, I wish I could put the words together to tell you how much this song means to me now. As I stood in a hospital room beside my best friend’s body wishing for her to come back or that she would take me with her this song was playing in the elevator music of my mind and I could pray that Jesus not let me waste this terrible pain and I could put that pain in the hands of the one who redeemed me and who redeemed Kerri.

    I am so very grateful that the last concert we attended together was yours and that you carried on in spite of not feeling good.

    Thanks for speaking for me when I could not and for being the conduit the Lord used to speak over my broken heart.

  17. Pam Washburn

    Dear Jason
    I will be doing a presentation at Women’s Retreat in April and wanted to use your video as my opener. My theme is Nothing Wasted and your video is a perfect fit. Would this be ok with you?

    Pam Washburn
    Keynote Speaker

  18. Ruth

    Nearly two years ago my life was beginning to hum with the excitement and expectation of bringing new life into the world. Then we were told at a routine check-up that this first child of our love was gone. We were twelve weeks along. We felt wounded and battered by the unexpected death. With tears in her eyes my pastor’s wife gripped my hand and told me that “nothing is wasted.” The words burned and bled. But I clung to them. Some time later I came across your song and recognized the exact echo of those words which had been etched into my soul. Listening to the lyrics and later watching the music video reopened my grief and loss. But there was healing in the tears. Since that time, the Lord has done much in restoring my husband and I. The wound is still there, but He has bound it in deeper trust and hope. Thank you for your participation in speaking truth and trust in our time of pain.

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