When One Is Greater Than One Thousand

One thousand pats on the back, CDs sold, people in the seats, encouraging emails, audiences laughing, positive reviews, lives changed for the better.

One person disappointed, angry, critical, unchanged.

I get to choose who I am. The guy who measured up 1,000 times or the guy who didn’t this once.

Don’t quote me the scriptures. I know them. The ones about my identity – I am God’s son, joint heir with Christ. The ones about my worth – I cost the Only Begotten his life, was knitted by the fingers of God, my life planned and good works prepared for me before the Earth began to spin on the first day of history.

I know them. But part of me doesn’t believe them.

boy sketching in the woods

That part is seven. He’s a boy perpetually sitting on a toilet lid with a bar of soap in his mouth, looking up at mom’s tears. He knows he’s the reason.

He’s nine and his grandmother, trying to inject perspective, asks, “What if Jesus came back right now? What would he think about how you’re behaving?”

And he’s eleven. His teacher’s words still hanging in the air: “You’ll never graduate from high school, never amount to anything.”

He wants you to like him – everyone to like him. And if you don’t, maybe he’s unlikeable…maybe he’s unloveable…even to God?

And I forget the boy is there. Inside me. Until the one.

Then I feel what the boy felt.


I tell him he matters. I read him the words. I tell him he’s not defined by opinions or failures, intellect or talent. I tell him Jesus hung on a tree so he doesn’t have to. I tell him about grace. I tell him he’s loved – unshakably unbreakably forever loved.


And after a few days he’s quiet again. And together we write a song, board a plane, stand on a stage, tell our jokes, do our good deeds…working our way to one thousand once more. Filling the scorecard with straight bundles of tally marks. Afraid the one will come again someday and erase them all.


God, I don’t want to live this way anymore. I want the boy in me to grow up, to believe what he knows to be true. This ends today. The boy and I are yours. Amen.

Thanks to Jon Acuff for inspiring me and this post with his talk at Blissdom in which he said that the critics math is 1,000 + 1 = 1. Thanks, Jon, for the kick in the pants.