I wrote this song a few years back. I tried everyone I know to help me record a demo for it so maybe I could send it out. I was willing to pay but could not find anyone willing to help. Finally, I found a local musician, who was in a band I liked called Acoustic Ghost, who said he would help with some demos for my songs. Joel is an old time rock and roll guy and said he would do his best to make my songs come out the way I was hearing them in my head, but they did not. He did a good job, just not the way I wanted them to sound.
This song, I hear it like a spoken/rap song, like Jason Aldean’s Dirt Road Anthem type of sound. I can picture TobyMac, Matthew West, or maybe Lecrae recording it, but that is wishful thinking. I just think the music they make would go well with this song. Joel made it into a classic rock/blues sound, which I really do like and maybe it would bring a different audience to it that I was not expecting. However, I would still like it done the way I hear it but I am grateful for Joel’s efforts.
I have included it at the bottom. If you have some time today, take a listen and leave me a comment on what you think. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone that knows TobyMac or Matthew West or anyone else, feel free to forward for me.
It is six minutes long but I think it could easily be reduced to four, four and half minutes.
Here are the lyrics:
I was walking down the street, smile on my face
Full of Gods love and forgiveness
In my head I was thinking how great is His grace
but it seemed everyone that looked at me looked away
They didn’t care or they didn’t know
Then I heard someone yell, what do you have to say
So I looked at him and told him our story
That You lived and died for me
I told him of Your love and Your glory
Then he looked at me and said I’m not bluffing
But what you say, what if it’s nothing
Then I smiled at him and started to sing
What if my friend,
What if it’s everything
What if it’s everything
So I walked on with a pep in my step
Living my life for Jesus
I wasn’t turning back, I won’t have regrets
Then I saw someone down on their luck
I went up and talked to her
I said hello and gave her my last buck
She thanked me with tears in her eyes
then she said, so what’s your story
I told her our story and how You had to die
She asked how do I know that it’s really something
You know my life’s been a rough one
Then I smiled at her and started to sing
What if my friend,
What if it’s everything
What if it’s everything
By then a crowd gathered around
They all wanted to know
How they could have this hope I had found
So I told them our story, told them to believe
Told them of the book, told them of your words
Told them I only know of one guarantee
In this life you will have troubles
But your sins you must confess
Give your life to him, don’t be on the bubble
Then they said we want to believe in something
But what if, what if its all nothing
Then I smiled at them and started to sing
What if my friends,
What if it’s everything
What if it’s everything
What if it’s the only thing
What If It’s Everything by me and Joel Rollo-
The Man That Needed Grace by Matthew West –
See The Light by Tobymac –
Set Me Free by Lecrae –
Together by for King & Country (with Kirk Franklin and Tori Kelly) –
I am 14 years old and a freshman in high school. I grew up in the church and believed in God, but now, I am not so sure. I see what is going on in this world, this country, and my hometown and I have to wonder if there is a God, where is he? I have friends whose parents both work full-time jobs and just barely have food on the table. She told me yesterday that they couldn’t even afford a single Christmas present this year. I see people starving not only all over the world but right here in my town. I read about human trafficking and people doing opioids to escape their pain.
I see people in my school that are so stressed out and have such low self-esteem that they hurt themselves or do whatever it takes to be liked. I see Instagram and Snapchat pictures of smiles on their faces but I look in their eyes and see nothing but hurt. I know I am loved, but there are so many people my age who do not feel loved or do not know who they are.
I have friends I go to church and Wildlife and now Younglife with that are having these same issues and are leaving the church or just quit believing. I want to believe there is a God, I want to believe there is hope and love in this world, but I am struggling.
Mr. editor, I am 14 years old, I should not have to worry if today is the day I go to school and someone will shoot me and my friends.
So, is there a God and if so, where is he?
First, thank you for your letter. I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. It does not matter if you are four or fourteen or forty-four, we are all frustrated with the world we live in.
I am not a theologian, simply a writer, and I will do my best to answer your questions.
A simple answer to your question, where is God, would be that we, or some people, asked him to leave our schools, we told him we didn’t need him and we stopped praying, we told him we could do it on our own. So, he simply left.
But like I said, that is a simple answer and also the wrong answer because I do not believe he left at all. I see teenagers every day that are making a difference. You probably see them, and maybe you are one of them, that take a stand against bullying, that reaches out to someone who is hurting, even if that person is not in their “circle.” They are the ones that will do what is right, not what is popular, no matter what others will think about them. Kylie, that is where you will find God.
I know our church collects gifts to give to those in need and can’t afford Christmas presents. Not only our church but churches and communities and individuals that give to the needy, like your friend’s family, so that they can have a Christmas. I know this time of year is hard for families with financial hardships, but when you see others giving and volunteering to help those in need, that is where God is.
I see the same news and social media you see about the evil in this world, such as human trafficking and drug overdoses. That’s what the news wants you to see, but they do not show the good that is out there. You truly have to search for it to know that for every bad news story, there is a good one. The Bible says seek and you will find.
I ask you to do that Kylie, turn away from the news feeds and search for good. Organizations like ECPAT-USA, ecoatusa.org, who are also international, or Polaris Project, polarisproject.org. Even right here in central Ohio there is Out Of Darkness Columbus Ohio, outofdarknesscolmbusoh.org and Live United Delaware County, liveuniteddelawarecounty.org.
There are thousands and thousands of other organizations and individuals that are fighting against evil in this world. That is where God is Kylie.
How do I know God exists? Take a look at our planet Earth. If it were positioned just a few inches from where it is located, it would not exist. Think about that Kylie. If the earth was located less than half the size of your iPhone, it would not be able to support human life. Scientists can’t even disagree with that.
How else do I know God exists? Well, it is you and me and every other human in this world. None of us are exactly the same. Who could make billions of people and not one of them is the same? How could billions of people exist that are all unique down to the tiniest DNA in their bodies if they were not created by God? Do you think that could happen by chance? I do not.
I did not always feel this way. Unlike you, Kylie, who grew up in church and knew about God and his love from the moment you were born, I did not. I did things my own way and ran my own life and was desperate to change the way I was living and one day I just stopped and turned around. I let God, who was pursuing me my entire life, catch me. And when he caught me, my life changed. I fell to my knees and I wept. Which was strange to me because I was raised to not show my feelings. To keep it all inside and be tough like a man. But that very moment God caught me, I was overwhelmed with love. As I learned about God, I learned about who he made me to be and what my identity is in Him. Not what everyone else thinks of me, but what God thinks of me. That changed my life.
Kylie, I have made many mistakes in my life. I have been divorced twice and tore apart my family because I was selfish and did things my way. Christians are humans and like all humans, we all make mistakes. After I accepted God into my life, seven years ago the unthinkable happened. My wife had an affair. It started around this time of year and I kept hearing a voice, or having a sixth sense if you will, to check her emails. Call it God trying to get involved before it got too far or call it the devil trying to tell me to look at what I helped your wife do, I do not know, but I ignored it because I trusted her. Until I could not ignore it and I found out the truth. In my anger, rage, hurting, and how could you, I wanted a divorce. Then on January 17th, I could not sleep. I was tossing and turning and crying and at 2:37 am, I felt the need to bundle up and take a walk. I remember the exact day and time because it is the first time I heard God speak to me. As I walked outside and tears streamed down my face and I yelled at God why, how could he let this happen, I looked up and saw the many many stars. In the stillness of the cold night, I heard him say stay, this is not about you, it’s about her and I need you to stay and be strong and help me help her come back to us. Over the next few weeks, a peace came over me and instead of yelling and saying hurtful things, I spoke words I never thought I could speak. They were not my words but God’s. Seven years later, even though not all is perfect, no marriage is, we are still proof of God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love.
Kylie, Only God can heal a man like me, a marriage torn apart by an affair, and the brokenness of the people in this world.
We only have to be still and ask for him to help us and tell us what to do.
My dad did not believe in God. Thankfully, to his wonderful wife, my mother, who had a heart of gold and to his caretakers over the last few months of his life, and maybe to the way I lived my life after I accepted God, he accepted that Jesus is his lord and savior and invited him into his life shortly before he passed. I wish he could have had more time to know how much God loves him but in my grieving, I also knew that I would see him again. Only God can heal the grieving and the hurting Kylie.
Kylie, I wish everyone your age, or any age, knew what their true identity in Christ is. I believe that if everyone knew how much they were loved, how they were chosen to be born and that there is a plan for their life that there would less hurt in this world. I wish that they defined themselves as God defines them. That they would understand that false identity comes from the brokenness in this world. Trust that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that they were forgiven and that there is a better way to live this thing we call life. I wish that they would find their plan and purpose for what God has for them, not what this world tells them they should be.
Kylie, do not choose happiness. It is an emotion like sadness or anger or excitement. It comes and goes with circumstances. Choose joy and love Kylie. No matter what you are going through choose to love, choose to be joyful. That is where you will find God.
You can choose what your heart will follow, Kylie, and what your heart follows is where you will be. Choose goodness, compassion, empathy. Choose to follow the good in the world and people will follow you because they will see how you live. Kylie, that is where God will be.
I recently saw the movie Overcomer. I could tell you a million quotes that I wish every teenager would know in this social media world where everything is based on smiles and likes but one I would like to share is this: people always try to tell you to look like this person or do something this way because it is popular but knowing that God loves you and he made you, why would you want to be anyone else.
Be yourself. Kylie, When you realize and accept that, your self-image and your identity and your view of the world will change. Filter out the negatives and live in the positives.
You, Kylie, are a child of God and you are here for a reason.
Kylie, I wish this world was not what it is. I wish and pray today when you go to school that it won’t be your last day on this earth. But, I beg you Kylie, do not live in fear. God does not live in fear. Live with hope Kylie, go out today and change the world. Be the one who shows the world that God is alive and well and that he lives in you.
Kylie, even in the bad I see all around me, I choose to see the good more. From the morning sunrise to the evening stars, from the leafless trees of winter to the first flower that blooms in the spring. From the first breath a baby takes to the last breath someone breathes. There is a shell that covers this unseen world and people choose to believe in what only they can see but there are mysteries in the unseen that we will never fully understand but it is as real as the next breath you take. You must have faith, hope and love, Kylie. That is where God resides and that is where you will find him. From the beginning to the end, I choose to see God in all of it and that is how I know God was here yesterday, he is here today, and he will be here tomorrow.
Kylie, God is alive and well and he is in you. He made you and he saved you, he loves you, he blesses you, he protects you, you are chosen and he died for you, Kylie. If you will find it in your heart to believe how much you are loved and chosen then you, too, will see him everywhere for he will be with you everywhere you go.
In the good and the bad, in the laughter and the tragedy, seek him, Kylie. He is there.
And that my dearest Kylie, is how I know that God exists and that he is here today.
I was shivering. Strange, since when I went to bed I put an extra blanket on and set the thermostat to heat up the house at 6:00. I then realized I was also wet. I startled awake only to realize I wasn’t in my warm bed. I was in some type of… give me a minute to look around. I was in some type of maze. Confused, bewildered, baffled, were some of the words that came to mind. I had to be dreaming, but I wasn’t.
I yelled out, but no one answered. I did the only thing I could and started to walk. Around this bend, turn left here, turn right there, dead end, start again. I then saw a note up ahead. I read it: If you have ever lied turn left at the next turn. Well yeah I have lied, who hasn’t? I came to the turn and went left. After about 200 yards or so I found another note. If you have ever stolen anything, turn left again. Unfortunately, I had to turn left. I kept walking for another 200 yards and yet another note. If you have ever dishonored your mother or father turn left again. Well, to be honest I am sure I have but if I did maybe it was just something little like talking back or missing curfew. Guess my answer was already made for me because the only way I could turn was left.
I know I just walked in a square but yet I was someplace new. Hanging up at the end of this walkway was a mirror. As soon as I looked into it I heard the voices. You are ugly. You aren’t good enough. No one likes you. Your kids don’t even like you. Look at your body, what have you done to it. You are a disgrace. Why are you even alive?
I covered my face with my hands and ran. I ran as fast and as far as I could but I could not get the voices out of my head. I came to another intersection.
Have you ever committed adultery? Well. Not physically. Then another voice: that doesn’t matter. Have you or haven’t you? Okay, yes I have! Correct. Go right.
Have you ever murdered someone? Of course not, I said. Are you sure about that? Yes, I am positive on that one. Then the images came to me like it was yesterday. The girl I talked into sleeping with me. She was so young and innocent. I wanted her. She said no but eventually I wore her down and she gave in. I murdered a piece of her that night. I murdered a piece of the boy I used to make fun of because he wasn’t like me. Oh God! Make this stop. Good try! God isn’t here and he isn’t coming. This is my world and you are just a pawn in it. Go right.
Have you ever worshiped someone other than your so called God? Have you ever used your so called Gods name in vain? Have you ever …. GO RIGHT I SAID!
NO!! I screamed. I don’t have to listen to you. I don’t have to go where you want me to. I can break this. I can walk away. You are a liar.
No, you can’t. Remember you are a nobody. No one likes you, except me. You are what I need to change this world. YOU can follow me, YOU can rule the world with me. YOU can turn stones into bread. YOU can jump off a building and angels will catch you. I can make you into the most powerful person in this world. TURN RIGHT!!
No, that’s where you are wrong. I don’t want to be the most powerful person in the world. I don’t need to be liked by everyone because I know God loves me. I don’t need your lies. I just need to follow the truth. With that last word I sprinted as fast as I could, to the left, and ran and ran for what seemed like days. I didn’t realize that the maze was disappearing as I ran. I was breaking free from the chains that bind me. By the time I stopped it was all gone.
I fell to the ground. Exhausted. Sweating. Breathing hard. I didn’t hear the footsteps come up beside me. Maybe there wasn’t any. I heard his voice. The one I have heard many times throughout my life but ignored. I felt him kneel beside me. I felt his hand on mine. I heard him say well done. I heard him say I love you. I heard him say I want you. I heard him say you belong with me.
He picked me up and walked me back home. He said trust in me. Have faith in me. Love me. And just like that he was gone. But was he really?
Isn’t it funny, sometimes not so funny, when you watch children play with each other. The way they interact, learn new things, remember that thing is their thing and no one else can play with it. The way one child wants everyone to play what they want to play and when everyone else doesn’t they start to pout.
It doesn’t get better as we grow up. I am talking to you teenagers. I want to spend time with my friends, not my family. I have to know everything that’s going on with all my friends every second of every day instead of interacting with the people around you. I want the latest gadget and gizmo no matter what it costs even though I just got the latest gadget and gizmo six months ago.
As adults, we forget how our children were when they were young and we sometimes act the same way. I don’t care what the rest of the family wants, I want to do this. I don’t care if I am not spending time with my children, I need to do this. I have to upgrade to the latest iphone even though it will cost me money I could use to pay a bill or help someone else. I don’t care if I am destroying my spouse or my kids, I want to be with someone else.
How many times have we seen athletes yelling at their coaches or teammates, even when they are winning, about get me the ball. I’m always open, I need the ball more. It’s a team sport.
I get that way. After a rainy summer I want to go to the pool today because it is finally sunny even though the rest of the family has other stuff to do. I want to watch the latest episode of this instead of another episode of that that Kylie wants to watch. I want to work out when my wife gets home from training instead of spending time with her.
I know many times I have said but what about me! One example is my wife is known as a runner. She runs and runs and runs. Even Jeremy Camp knows her as the runner. Every time we see him and talk to him he says “I know you, you are the runner girl.” I don’t know how he can remember that with all the people he meets. Anyway, everyone always asks my wife for advice on running. I weight 100 lbs more than her, run about half as much as she does but yet I can run faster than her and beat her in races. NO ONE has ever asked ME for running advice.
How do we break this cycle? We need to quit living for ourselves. I equate being selfish with being happy. I get to do what I want so I am happy. Being happy equals being a taker. We need to start living a meaningful life. Having a life full of purpose and meaning equals being a giver.
I read an article called “There’s More To Life Than Happiness” which had some interesting points. “Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided,” the authors write.
How do the happy life and the meaningful life differ? Happiness, they found, is about feeling good. If you have money to but what you want when you want then you are happy. But if you don’t have the money then you think you are unhappy. “I never get anything good.” How many times have you bought yourself something new and were happy then after a month it sits in your closet unworn, or it’s collecting dust somewhere. Guess what? Every human and animal in this world is looking to be happy. Even the lion that kills to eat is happy until he is hungry again and can’t find food then he is unhappy.
What sets us apart from animals is not the pursuit of happiness, but the pursuit of meaning, which is unique to humans. In the words of Martin E. P. Seligman, one of the leading psychological scientists alive today, in the meaningful life “you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.” Having more meaning in one’s life was associated with activities like buying presents for others and taking care of kids. People whose lives have high levels of meaning often seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of their own happiness. In fact, according to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, research shows that parents are less happy interacting with their children than they are exercising, eating, and watching television. Say what? And we wonder why our children are turning out the way they are. How they are turning away from the church, how they are living for themselves, how they are living to be happy. They learned it from us, the parents.
“Partly what we do as human beings is to take care of others and contribute to others. This makes life meaningful but it does not necessarily make us happy,” Baumeister said in an interview.
While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning. Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. Having negative events happen to you, the study found, decreases your happiness but increases the amount of meaning you have in life. Another study from 2011 confirmed this, finding that people who have meaning in their lives, in the form of a clearly defined purpose, rate their satisfaction with life higher even when they were feeling bad than those who did not have a clearly defined purpose. In his book Man’s Search For Meaning Viktor Frankl wrote “If there is meaning in life at all then there must be meaning in suffering.”
“The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.”
Sounds like something I have read in the Bible that has been teaching us about life for a couple thousand years.