I’m a Murderer

‚ÄčI remember one time when I had just started going to a new church, Gabriel was almost three years old… We were leaving service, and as I was putting him in the car seat, he asked me very flatly, “What is God?”

When he asked me, I was dumbstruck. Not because he asked the question, but because I didn’t know how to answer.

Tonight, I’ve spent time with The Lord. Not spending time, like playing guitar and thinking, oh, that’s a good song. That’s pretty. I mean, I’ve been laying in a puddle of my own snot and tears. I’ve been spending time with The Lord trying to find the answer to the question I did not have for my son. Because I realize the last seven years of my life, I’ve been in the church. But I’ve never been encased in the presence of majesty. 

I’ve been close. I’ve been close enough that I felt the heat of the Holy Spirit. I’ve been mesmerized by it enough just to run my finger across the flame of the candle, but never bold enough to be consumed by it. I don’t want to burn for all eternity, but I’m not even willing to hold the match when it starts to hurt.

I’m Paul. I’m the chief of sinners. I’m the worst of the worst of the worst. Paul was a murderer of Christians. The blood on my hands comes from the sick I didn’t pray for, the orphans and widows I didn’t care for, and the imprisoned I didn’t visit. Those I did not love, I murdered.

Is God not mercy? Is God not hope? Is He not an ever-present help in times of trouble? What is He, if He is not a Father to the fatherless, and power to the powerless? What is He if He is not a King? Either we believe He is who He says He is, or we don’t. Either we believe He is love, or we don’t. Either we believe He is Lord of all, or we don’t. But if we call ourselves Christians, we reflect what we believe God is. And I’m tired of making God out to be a complacent God.

What is God? What if He’s us? 

What if we’re Him?

Don’t read into that as a hippie new age doctrine. It’s in the Bible. And if we’re to believe the Scriptures are true, then when it says we are the body of Christ, we probably are.

Lord, forgive me for being a murderer. Forgive me for being a liar and a thief. Forgive me for how I’ve represented You. Convict every thought in my mind and every deed in my heart. I’m sorry I ever ran from Your fire. When Your candle was placed before me, I’m sorry I turned away. And I’m sorry for being a poor excuse for a Christian. Forgive me. 

To all of you, forgive me. 


School of Thought

If people had the faith in Jesus that they had in their spouses, or their jobs, or their homes, or their children… We’d all be walking on water.


There are songs you get stuck in your head, and songs you get stuck in your heart. Some Sundays ago, our worship leader shared a new song with us called Refugee that he had written. I could only remember the chorus, but it became my new anthem.

“This won’t last forever,
This won’t last forever,
I promise, I promise.
The storm will soon be over,
The storm will soon be over,
I promise, I promise…”

I shared it with my son, who my mother has kept away from me for over a year now. One day, I’ll share the story with you about why he’s gone, but right now all that matters is he’s not home where he belongs. And left up to my mom, he’ll never come home.

He used to sing so much, and he really got good. I was impressed. It broke my heart when I got to see him and when I asked if he still sang, he would say no. So I don’t get to hear him sing anymore. All I have is old videos and recordings, and a prayer that God will give him his voice back. But one day right after hearing Refugee, I sang it to him. He didn’t seem to pay much mind to me, and just went on.

A few days later, I was picking up someone’s shift at work. I was bagging food, something I never did, and was working alongside three new people. Everything I did was a joke, and I messed up everyone else. Normal people go on with their lives, but I’m not normal. I keep replaying that night over and over in my mind. And I hear the song.

“This won’t last forever,
This won’t last forever,
I promise, I promise…”

Several mornings, I’ve found myself dragging my feet just to get up and get myself going. I hit snooze a lot… I love my job and, really, I have a good life. My problem is just being so tired. When I get to the end of this, will it have been worth it? Is my son coming home? Will I ever figure out what I’m doing at work? Is this boyfriend going to realize he can do better? What will I do if I eventually have to realize that it was all a waste? And then I hear it…

“This won’t last forever,
This won’t last forever,
I promise, I promise…”

I have so many song ideas right now, it’s pitiful. Because if I’m allowed to say it, they’re all brilliant ideas. Some of the parts I’ve written are awesome. But parts are all I have. And when I try to play and sing, I realize I’m really not that good. I do okay, but just “okay” enough that I can share what I’ve written. I have no right to take a Bethel song and try to sing it. To hear myself is to crush myself. My guitar is falling apart, I’ve played it so much, and for what? I haven’t gotten any better.

“This won’t last forever,
This won’t last forever,
I promise, I promise…”

Last time I saw Gabriel, I was trying to get him to go to sleep. He was trying to get me to stay. I had to say goodbye to him again, and every time I do, I fear it’ll be the last time before my mom decides to bar me from all contact for another six months. He even hid my shoes so I couldn’t leave. When I told him I found my shoes, he cried. I said, “I am doing everything I can to bring you home, monkey.”

He grabbed my face with his hands like he hasn’t done since he was very little. I’ve fared pretty well to have my whole world ripped away, but if I had any sort of melting point, it was when he grabbed my face and sang to me:

“This won’t last forever,
This won’t last forever,
I promise, I promise…”

Since he was snatched from my world, I’ve died a million deaths. In that one moment, my heart was brutally crushed and shattered, and then made whole again, all in a way only the Lord could do.

That song goes on to say, “I know that you can’t see it, I know that you can’t see it, but I can, I can.” And nothing else from here to the heavens can comfort or assure us quite like knowing God is for us, and knowing that He’s writing an incredible ending to our stories. For now, just brace yourself on His goodness and faithfulness. Know that wherever you are in your own story, it won’t last forever.

I promise.

Chicken and Ice Cream

I’ve mentioned before about a hundred some-odd times that I love my job. There’s something about that place that makes it very hard to imagine myself anywhere else. I really liked my job at Earth Fare, and to be honest, I feel like it’s the only job I ever really excelled at. My job now, I’m not particularly great at. But I love it. Most of the time, everything goes pretty smoothly. Any snags in the system get dealt with easily.


There are days when I’m kicking orders and taking names. I don’t mix orders up, I don’t get confused about who ordered what, I can talk to guests about the game last Saturday and who we played, and the world is in perfect harmony. And then, as steady and easy as things are going, they can go all the way to left field. Then I have guests coming back to the window because they got the wrong food, or didn’t get food at all, and the worst part of it is, it’s very rarely anyone’s fault but mine. So I have to own it.

I love my guests. I love my managers. I love my team mates. I love the business and what it stands for. But I don’t love the times I screw up, and those times seem to happen a lot. I don’t love when I disappoint a guest or I let my team down. I don’t love when I make other people’s jobs harder by making a mistake they have to go behind me and fix. I don’t love when I fail.

I go home most days realizing I’ve fallen in love with something I’m terrible at. And that’s bad for business.

And if I’m so terrible at something that matters so deeply, how terrible am I at the things that matter even more?

Sandi Fatow tells the story about going to a prison one time for a church service, and a young woman there who came to Christ. The next time she was in that prison, a guard made the comment, “Do you hear how that inmate is cussing and ranting? I guess she didn’t really become a Christian.”

Sandi replies to the guard, “She’s still a Christian. She’s just a pissed off Christian.”

No matter how long we have on this earth, we will chronically fail. It’s what we do. Without failure, there’d be no need for grace. Without mistakes, what meaning would mercy have? And with perfection, why would Jesus have ever come?

Today, a new employee comes to my window to bring me an ice cream cone for a guest. And it was the most disproportionate, crooked heap of a mess you’d ever seen on top of a cone. After my line was clear of guests, I brought her and another new girl over to the ice cream machine to show them the art. (Because it really is an art.) What I didn’t tell them was how many cones I’d thrown away, how many I’d sheepishly handed to a customer with a lame excuse about the ice cream machine being a loose cannon, or how many I’d simply had to dump back into the machine and try again. I didn’t tell them about the first time I made a large cone, going through enough attempts that I was almost in tears by the time someone else stepped in to make it for me. They didn’t see the ugly cones and tilted ice cream and missing ridges, and they certainly didn’t know about the frustration or the anger or the failures. All they saw was a delicate swirl with the perfect ‘Q’ on the top.

I think the problem with looking at “perfect” people is that we don’t see what they went through to get there. I think if we were to ask them how many ice cream cones they had to throw away, we’d be surprised. I think if we went deeper and asked about their scars and sweat and tears, we’d find out how terrible we all really are at what we do.

The good news for us is, there’s grace.

We may not know what Paul’s actual thorn was. But in II Corinthians, he admits that he begged the Lord three times to take it away. And God’s answer was so simple. He just said, “My grace is sufficient. My power works best in weakness.”

Rejoice in where you are right now, even if you suck at it. Because you’re going to get better. Forget about where you’re going, and celebrate where you no longer are. Be glad right now in what you’ve accomplished, even if all you’ve done is started praying two minutes a day, or you’ve just stopped smoking, or stopped cussing, or you’ve just learned to cuss less. Be overjoyed if all you’ve done is take one step forward, even after taking ten steps back. Celebrate, even if all you’ve managed to do is make a stupid ice cream cone that doesn’t look like crap.

Rejoice that the grace is there for you to keep moving forward. And remember, even though “perfection” isn’t something you’ll ever accomplish, God’s ultimate mission is to manifest His fullness in Your life, and that is an art He has definitely mastered.