Sometimes there is a Bow

Posted: January 23, 2010 in Life Change, My Faith

One of my favorite speakers and communicators over the past few years has been Louie Giglio. Many of you who read this know who I am talking about and some may not. A couple of his more popular messages were Indescribable and How great is Our God. Another message that he has that has grown popular of late is entitled Fruitcake and Ice cream. You can watch a minute preview of it here. You can watch several minutes of it here. It is the story of a college student in Florida that found Christ through her roommate and it radically changed her. A few months after accepting Christ, she died in a tragic car accident. Her dad has kept in touch with Louie for the last 3 years and has never accepted Christ. Yesterday, Louie wrote this blog entry (it is long, but worth the read):

It’s been three years since I was introduced to Ashley Akinns… and I have spent much of the time since introducing her and her amazing story of grace to the world.  Her first email arrived on this day in 2007:

January 22, 2007

Hi, I feel kinda weird writing this email. And i doubt if it ever gets to Mr Louie Giglio. I am a Senior at The University of Florida. I got a new roommate this semester and she is a Christian and I have never really been into the whole Christian thing because every pastor or speaker that I have ever listened to didn’t speak in a language I could understand. I have believed in God and Jesus, but never really understood it because the preachers at the church that I have always been forced to go to every Sunday of my life. They speak all high and mighty and I never really felt connected, and I felt like God was only for the perfect people.

Well my roommate went to this Passion Conference over winter break. And she came back and moved into my apt and she was real and genuine about all her Christian stuff, like I have never seen before in a person. She said that God changed her at this conference, so i was like what are you talking about. And she told me. She told me about how God was cool, and how God really wanted a deeper relationship with her, and she wanted to really love God the way he loved her, so of course I was like well huh? She then said you need to listen to Louie talk about God, so I asked who Louie was, and she put on the Indescribable talk, and then we watched the Passport talk. And in the Passport talk you said that Christians do not have to just hope for the best at the end, that they do not have to do enough good stuff. You explained how to get to heaven in a simple way, in a way that I have never heard before. I actually got it, I got it that it is not about being so good, cause I am not a good person. I have screwed up a lot. But then you said grace, and talked about how it was different than other religions. Because God is a loving and a kind God who wants to forgive me. My roommate then explained that he wants to forgive me.

Now for one of the reasons I am thanking you. One, I am now a Christian. And two, my roommate said that she had never really cared about telling others about how much God loved her before she went to this conference. So though I am not sure who will ever read this. Please tell Louie thanks from me, for talking about Christ in a way that a college kid can understand. I know that Jesus has changed my life and as I get ready to graduate college in May, I am gonna be a different person. I am sorry this is kinda rambling but I just had to tell you that I now know about the Grace of God, and I have life for the first time in my 22 years

Ashley

I can remember exactly where I was sitting (tour bus, Phoenix, AZ) when I read Ashley’s email.  We were on the heels of Passion 07, and 22,000+ people had just left Atlanta with the idea that we were going to SHINE in this world for Jesus.  That always sounds like a grand idea in the moment, but you always wonder when and where the power of the event (what we have all experienced with God during our time together) is going to touch down back in the world we come from.  Reading Ashley’s message (and knowing of Christa’s shine-factor!) I said out loud, “That, is what Passion is all about.  This girl wasn’t even there, and God has changed her life!”

Obviously, if you’re reading this Blog, there’s a good chance none of this is news to you.  I shared Ashley’s email here a few days after I received it (with permission) and her story has since circled the globe and been heard by countless people.  Her love for Jesus and new-found faith, coupled with the car accident that took her home to heaven a few months later, have touched people in their dark hours as they try to make sense of circumstances that assail their faith and seek to dampen hope.

In the end, I’ve talked a lot about Ashley’s family (her mom, step-dad and brother), all hurting and struggling on different levels, and about her dad, a self-professed atheist who lost his only child and the love of his life.  In his first email to me shortly after Ashley’s death Mike was incredibly kind, yet decidedly opposed to faith.  But, he wrote to thank me for Passion and said he couldn’t deny the difference he had seen in Ashley’s life since she became a Christian.

As I shared this message of hope in the midst of pain, I would always end by saying something like, “I know, if this was a good “preacher story” there would be a nice bow on the end and Ashley’s dad would walk out and close our time in prayer….but life doesn’t work out that way and I don’t have a bow.  Often, in this world, we don’t get a bow.”  People would always laugh.  Yet something powerful would settle over the message that rings true.  Life doesn’t always end up working out the way we plan.  You know it and I know it, but it doesn’t take one ounce of power away from our message, or the cross of Christ which immovably anchors our hope in a God who loves us no matter what, and who paints on a canvas bigger than we can see or imagine.

Mike and I would often write and talk back and forth about the life his daughter found in Christ.  After hearing the Hope message he wrote, “I’m not sure you’re ever going to get your bow.”

After three years, I sometimes wondered if he was right.

But, as I say after sharing Ashley’s journal and story of faith, “Never count God out!”  A few days ago an email came with the subject: New Year. New Life.  It reads in part (with permission)…

Louie,
I hope your 2010 has started off great. I can hardly believe that it has been almost 3 years since my daughter first told me told me she was a Christian and I told her she was crazy. The last few months I have been doing a lot of reading and studying about Christianity…
I have been attending a Bible Study with some men that I work with. Christianity is not something that I ever thought would be a part of my life. But for almost 3 years it has been something I think about every day. I am not the same man I was a few years ago…
In studying Christianity I have discovered that I do not have to be alone. I have also discovered that I can have my life back. I can regain the joy that I had when I was with my Princess. To use words that you would say. I have taken my ribbons and tied a bow, 3 days ago I accepted Christ as my savior. It is the first time in 3 years I have had any peace in my life.
Holding a Bow
Mike

I just sat there staring at my Blackberry.  The same one I stared at the day I got the news from Ashley’s mom that she had died and was home with Jesus.  Both days my eyes filled with tears.  That day in 2007 they were tears of overwhelming sadness.  This day in January 2010 they were tears of stunning joy.  All I could think of was Mike and Ashley together in heaven, forever linked by a common love for the One who saves and restores!
LG
————
Mike, the whole world has been praying for you and I’m pretty sure that there are fist pumps pumping, tears flowing and shouts being shouted right now in places all around the globe.  I know there are in heaven!
You can read other posts from Louie on his blog here. Hope this encouraged you like it did me.
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Comments
  1. Amy says:

    very encouraging! Enjoyed reading this.

  2. Julie says:

    That’s a great story.

  3. Jessica says:

    My high school Sunday School class watched the fruitcake and ice cream talk as well as when life hurts several months ago. Tonight as I was looking for another Louis Giglio video (per their request) I came across this. I can not wait to read them this blog and tell them of the wonderful ending to this story.

  4. Bern L. says:

    We have been watching the Passion set of DVD’s the past 5 weeks at church on Sunday nights. (yes one of the few churches that still have Sunday night services.) (Indescribable, How Great Is Our God, Hope pt.1 and 2, and finished TONIGHT Fruitcake and Ice Cream.

    Yes…fist pumps and tears of joy. Ashley’s whole born-again experience….documented in her own hand as it was happening… is beyond words. I prayed tonight that I could be like Christa…..spreading the gospel in a way that let’s others come to Christ…at their pace.

    Jesus STILL changing lives…..all these years later. One day that trumpet’s going to sound!

    Bern

    I too, like Jessica above, will pass on that Mike did accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. What a beautiful day.

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