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.
For the last fifty nine days, every day has been the same for me. I didn’t expect day sixty to be any different.
I wake up, look in the mirror and tell myself today is the day. Today will be the day that I can do it. I am stronger than I think I am. I can do this.
I then walk out of my room and go exactly five feet three inches and stop in front of the room. I reach for the door knob then pull my hand away. I stare at the door for what seems like hours but it is only minutes, maybe seconds. I then take a deep breath and walk away.
image credit: The Sabbath Recorder
I go about my day like a robot. Doing without thinking. Lost in my guilt. Lost in the what if’s. Everyone looks at me the same. Fake smiles. I fake smile back. They say everything will be alright. I want to scream at them that it will not be, but I don’t. I only want to hit something. I have so much anger and hurt and it’s all my fault. They say it is not but I know it is.
I go home. I hesitate as I turn the key to unlock the door. Do I really want to go back inside? I don’t know what else to do so I turn the key.
I make dinner and set two plates out of habit. I know you won’t be joining me. I eat in silence.
I go upstairs to go to bed and I once again stop at the door. I reach for the door knob and pull my hand away. I take a deep breath and walk away. I go into my room and yell at myself in the mirror. Why are you so weak? Why can’t you turn the knob?
God help me! Where are you? I need you. She needs you. Why won’t you make her wake up? I need a miracle.
I fall asleep listening to the hissing and popping of the machines that keep her alive.
I have the same nightmare, but it’s not a nightmare. It’s a reality. You fell down the stairs and couldn’t move. Ten minutes. That’s what the doctor said. If I could’ve gotten you to the hospital ten minutes earlier you would’ve made it. If I would’ve came straight home that night you would’ve been okay.
But I didn’t.
We were fighting and I took the long way home to clear my head.
I wish I would’ve driven straight home. That’s why it’s all my fault. That’s why I can’t go in there. I know I did that to you.
I wake with a startle. The house is silent.
It shouldn’t be silent!
The machines have stopped. I jump out of bed and run to the door. I reach my hand out and pull it away. Maybe it’s for the best.
She needs you.
I look around. No one is there.
She needs you. She is still alive. Appreciate the living while they are here. One day she will be gone and you won’t be able to tell her anything.
Tears pour out of my eyes and before I know it my hand turns the door knob. I slowly walk to your bed and reach out to hold your hand. I am so sorry. Please wake up, please. I love you. I need you. I am sorry I haven’t been here. I will always be there for you from now. Wake up! Please God, wake her up.
I feel her hand squeeze mine. It had to be my imagination. I look up through the tears and see her eyes open.
I didn’t expect day sixty to be any different. God knew it would be.
She was born into a home that didn’t want her. She was neglected and mistreated. She was told she wasn’t good enough. She wasn’t wanted. One day they proved that to be true and they gave her away. Through it all she smiled.
She was adopted a short time later by parents that wanted her. Parents that loved her. She had nightmares. She was comforted by her new parents. She was told how much she was loved. She was taught about God. She was told how much she was wanted. Through it all she smiled.
As she continued to grow and get older people would ask what is wrong with her. How can she always be smiling? She must be hiding something. She would tell them all is good, nothing to hide. She just loves life and is so happy to be here. They would tease her but through it all she smiled.
She met a guy. She fell head over heels. Everything in her life was perfect. Until it wasn’t. He started to yell at her all the time. He started to abuse her. She tried to leave but he would convince her to stay. She would believe him when he said he would change. Slowly her smile started to fade.
She became pregnant. He didn’t change. She knew she had to leave him, not only for her but for the baby. She could remember how her biological parents treated her. She didn’t want her baby growing up the same. She moved back to her adopted parents, her real parents. Slowly her smile came back.
She read her bible and raised her little girl on her own. She knew who she was and why she was here. She taught her little girl about God. She was told she was loved and wanted. She told her about her dad and about her Father in Heaven. It wasn’t always easy but through it all, they smiled.
On her last day here she thanked God for everything in her life. The good and the bad. She thanked Him for giving her a thankful heart. For giving her a smile through everything attitude. For giving her life lessons to teach her daughter. For giving her parents that didn’t want her, and for giving her parents that did. For giving her a home to grow up in that taught her about Him. She thanked Him for helping her forgive, her parents and her ex- husband. She took her last few breaths and as she left this world she smiled.
Think of these songs as a soundtrack to the reading.
Alyssa Lies by Jason Michael Carroll –
When Love Takes You In by Steven Curtis Chapman –
Orphan by John Waller –
Everything To Me by Mark Schultz –
You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile by Sia –
Run For God- preparing people to be better witnesses for Christ physically, mentally and spiritually. Physically by creating a healthier you and make it possible to reach a new demographic of non-believers-potential believers. Mentally by learning the discipline and endurance it takes to run the race set before us. Spiritually by learning always to give God the glory for all that we accomplish.
Yesterday we finished our 12 weeks of running for God. My wife led her first Run For God class at our church. She stepped out of her box and did a wonderful job. I helped out with the children. I tried to teach them a lesson each week on preparing for the race and endurance of being a Christian. In the end I think they just ran around playing hide and seek in the life center more than anything.
12 weeks of studying what it takes to run the race as Christians. 12 weeks of building endurance to run the race. 12 weeks of getting to know other members and become friends with them. 12 weeks of having struggles, doubts and fear. 12 weeks of overcoming every obstacle in the way and achieving more than we ever thought we could.
Almost all the members of the class were newbies to actually running. Some ran years ago but had given up. Some had never ran at all. The first week we started off by jogging 60 seconds and then walk for 90 seconds and repeat for 20 minutes. The homework was to do this 2 more times during the week. We slowly increased this week to week where week two was 90 seconds jog, 120 seconds run for 20 minutes to the last class where we jogged for 30 minutes straight. It is always amazing to see the people that struggled in week 1 to jog 60 seconds actually jog for 30 minutes and how much confidence they have gained in themselves through this process.
Throughout the weeks we learned about different types of running gear, shoes – not one size fits all, stretching the proper way, injuries and injury prevention. We learned about nutrition, proper ways to lose weight, staying motivated, running your race and what to expect during the race.
We watched videos and read inspriring stories from the Hoyt family, Ryan Hall, Edwin Moses, Gary Basher and many others. These stories told us about overcoming obstacles, fears, and doubts.
We read about how Jesus is the one who enables us to run at all. The race of faith takes us to eternal life through God’s wondrous hand. Stick to God’s plan and let God keep you on the path that leads to life. We learned that to be a runner, and a Christian, you have to have the right equipment, be determined, diligent, and focused. The Bible makes an incredible number of references to the sport of running, paralleling it to the lives of believers and the journeys of exhaustion, pain, and dedication that all Christ-followers must experience.
Instead of always asking God for what you want, try asking for a better understanding of what He wants. Sometimes we get so busy doing what we think God wants us to do that we totally miss God. Make time every day for the Lord even if it means sacrificing something else that you love- it will be well worth the sacrifice. Don’t lose focus of your goal, whether it is physical, mental, or spiritual. Keep your eye on the goal and don’t complain about the obstacles you have to go through to achieve your goal.
Our 12 week ministry ended with the Steps Of Faith 5k run/walk that our friend, Ben Reed, started 4 years ago. All race proceeds will support The Heinzerling Foundation and Bradley’s House of Hope, two organizations (one local & one global) working to engage & develop individuals with disabilities in a loving & nurturing environment. We had the largest turnout ever with over 400 people registering, I believe 8 different churches came together to run and share God together.
Run For God does not end with the class. Many participants realize they can run and keep on going. Run For God is also a community outreach. I know several times have worn their Run For God shirts when running or shopping or … and people always are asking “what’s this Run For God thing?”. We also volunteer at water stations for other races such as Cap City, Emerald City, Nationwide Children’s 1/2 and marathon, Ohio State 4 miler, and many others.
Look for a church near you to join the next class. Can’t find one, start one. You will be amazed.
God gave us a beautiful day and an amazing race. I can’t tell you enough how amazing it is to see people cross the finish line who, 12 weeks earlier, were struggling to run for 60 seconds. The smiles at the finish line from everyone were truly inspiring. Several people asked, “What’s next? Can we keep meeting to run?”
Know that what you choose to believe is what will remain until we change our mind. If you believe that you are defeated then you are. While you are focused on tomorrow know that God is already there working it out for you, so live in the present. Live each day believing you are victorious in every area of your life. Run for God. Live it. Love it. Teach it.
Thanks Ben Reed, thanks Mitchell Hollis for starting Run For God and, most of all, thanks to God. With Him, anything is possible.
*some excerpts from Run For God by Mitchell Hollis
Ben Reed, Just Say Yes
Run For God, What’s It All About –
Run For God, 5k Challenge –
Run For God by Miriam and Sarah Burnette – Steps of Faith 5K Westerville Christian Church edition –
Kings and Queens by Audio Adrenaline –
Team Hoyt –
Ryan Hall, How Does Running Glorify God? –
Run For God Church of Messiah (where Ben Reed started it and where we learned about it) –