I Got a Golden Ticket!

February 18, 2011 | 29 comments

So the first thing you need to know is this: I’m used to asking for things that I’m pretty sure I’ll never get.

Things like asking to interview — oh, say — one of the biggest names in the Christian music industry.

“Dear Ms. Giglio,” the email began. “I am writing to request an interview with Chris Tomlin in advance of his ‘If Our God Is For Us’ stop in Sioux Falls, S.D.”

Yes, that Chris Tomlin. The one who has been named Male Vocalist of the year three times at the Dove Awards. The guy who wrote songs like “How Great is Our God” and “Jesus Messiah.”

I hit send, and vowed to never to admit to anyone that I actually did something this ridiculous.

And then I waited.

I knew a response was unlikely. I was correct.

(Insert sound of chirping crickets here.)

Mr. Tomlin was, after all, kicking off a nationwide tour. On Wednesday, he was nominated for six Dove Awards. He had interviews with reporters in places like Minneapolis-St. Paul on the same day an Iowa farm wife with a little blog sent in her absurd request.

But this is the crazy way I’ve landed all sorts of interviews with people like Shimon Peres, George Bush and Al Gore and a guy named Denny who once attempted to eat a 205-ounce steak at a central Iowa restaurant.

Of course, back in those days, I actually had press credentials and a paying job at a metro newspaper. So people generally returned my phone calls.

You can take the girl out of the newsroom, but you can’t take the newsroom out of the girl.

So I asked.

This story does not end with me landing an interview with Chris Tomlin.

But this story isn’t over:

Four of us — Joni, Renae, Michelle and I — attended Mr. Tomlin’s concert in Sioux Falls, S.D. last night. We showed up early, because a local Christian radio station offered a candy bar to the first 1,000 people at the door. Golden tickets lay hidden inside five of those candy-bar wrappers. Bearers of the five tickets would get a chance to meet speaker Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin.

The four of us convened a meeting outside the doors. We plotted our most efficient strategy. Each of us went in through a different door, as if this would increase our odds. We would met on the other side to unwrap the candy together. On the count of three …

Our hopes were dashed. No golden ticket. We felt like Charlie Bucket after news broke that a Paraguayan millionaire had won the last golden ticket to see Willy Wonka.

But Charlie’s story didn’t end there. And neither did ours:

We took our seats in section U, behind a guy with a bad cold and a “Got Jesus?” sweatshirt. We were giggling and snapping pictures and acting like a herd of hyenas let loose from the zoo.

The guy in front of us turned around, smiled politely and said this: “You guys look like you’d enjoy this more than I would.” And then, he handed us a coveted Golden Ticket.

(Insert Willy Wonka “Golden Ticket” song here.)

I looked over my shoulder for Slugworth.

And then, the concert began, and we worshipped, and it was heavenly, and we joined all of creation in praise. And, really, it felt like the whole room had sampled Fizzy Lifting Drinks.

After the concert, we were ushered into the Wonkavator — er, back stage — where we met Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio. And they were gracious and sincere. Louie asked how we four knew each other. And Renae answered on our behalf: “Through Jesus. And that’s the honest truth.”

We took photos. Chris — we’re on a first-name basis now — signed our CDs and T-shirts with a Sharpie.

I didn’t get to interview him.

I had a hundred questions for him about how he sees God and how he enters into worship and how he views every celestial sound as a piece of symphonic praise. I didn’t get to tell him about what the song Exalted (Yahweh) means to me. I didn’t say anything profound or wise (no surprise there). But we did get to thank him for his Christ-focused ministry of music.

Because here’s the deal: the real golden ticket isn’t the one that gets us a back-stage pass. It’s the one that assures us of our shared inheritance in the kingdom of Light. It’s the everlasting Gobstopper of all Everlasting Gobstoppers.

(Take that Slugworth.)

by | February 18, 2011 | 29 comments


  1. Deb

    What an awesome story! I love Chris Tomlin! He was also in Des Moines last week. That golden ticket is priceless.

  2. Christy

    That's an amazing story! How exciting!

  3. Megan Willome

    Love this, Jennifer! Not only because it's Chris Tomin, but all your Willy Wonka references (much more appreciated by me after my daughter was in the musical in our local theater co.).
    My favorite Tomlin song is "I Will Rise." I sang it at my mother's bedside the day before she died.

  4. jaybird7

    Pretty neat story, Jennifer.

    And the guy who gave you his Golden Ticket?

    Quite a gift giver.

    I'll bet you anything he inherited that quality from his Abba.

  5. Wendy Paine Miller

    All kinds of cool. I love how you kept teasing us…and the story doesn't end yet…no golden ticket yet…

    It's beautiful around here btw.

    ~ Wendy

  6. Kelly Sauer

    "Fizzy Lifting Drinks."

    I'm going to be giggling over that one for a while… hee hee…

  7. elizabeth

    Love this post and the weaving of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all through it. Your writing makes me smile.

  8. jasonS

    What a great, fun story! Thanks Jennifer. 🙂

  9. Jessica

    Love this! Love Chris Tomlin! Love girls' nights!

  10. Linda

    You are just the cutest little pack of hyenas I've ever seen.
    Well done Jennifer!

  11. Beth E.

    How cool! I would love the chance to meet Chris Tomlin…his music has been a great ministry to me.

  12. KJ

    How fun!

    How true!

    How wonderful!

    How God works in mysterious ways to get us OUR Golden Ticket with him!

    Love it!

  13. Dionna

    I love how you wrapped up your post with the photo "If our God is for us…"

  14. Angie Vik

    Fun story. I enjoyed reading about your adventure. How neat of God to give you something He knew you'd enjoy.

  15. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Deb — Did you get to see him in Des Moines? That's not too far from you, right?

    Megan — Hearing you speak of singing to your mother is such a beautiful picture. You are *grace*, girl. I love you.

    jaybird7 — We wish we'd gotten the guy's name. What a portrait of grace!

    Angie — We talked about that, too — how God really does care about the little things, and how He delights in our joy.

    Thanks, all of you, for stopping by! xoxo

  16. The Dove Chronicles

    A rousing AMEN!!!! from me!!!!
    You guys rock!! er… you rocked!!!
    Literally. What a FUN and remarkable night and blog entry. I am so happy for you.
    xxoo Lisa

  17. S. Etole

    What a treat just to be there …

  18. Shaunie @ Up the Sunbeam

    I love this post Jennifer–I used to be the music buyer for what was at the time, the largest Christian store in the U.S. Your story of backstage brought back so many memories of my interaction with so many great Christian artists during that time. Even more than that, I LOVED your Willy Wonka theme and all the ways that story is our story with Jesus!!

  19. Prairie Chick

    Our God is an AWESOME God.

  20. Jennifer

    This is just SO wonderful! I have goosebumps! God is SO good sometimes that He amazes me. I bet you were praising the heavens that night in thanks for getting to meet up close one of your brothers in Christ.

  21. Patricia

    Very cool story, Jennifer. And what a great photo!

  22. B His Girl

    Only God! He rewarded your step of faith to ask for the interview and made the story about how He works. How Great is our God!!!! B

  23. Graceful

    What a sweet, fun story. Now I admit, I don't know who Chris Tomlin is…I am sadly uneducated when it comes to Christian music…but I still loved the story!

  24. Laura

    Jennifer! I am all in awe. I'm such a starstruck fan (even though I know the truth in that last line, the real golden ticket…I"m still crazy about Chris Tomlin!) Thank you for keeping me on the edge of my seat and letting me feel like Cinderella by proxy! What a great story. What fun!

  25. Jennifer @ Studio JRU

    What a fantastic story! Looks like you girls had an awesome time!

    Yes. "It's the everlasting Gobstopper of all Everlasting Gobstoppers."… I love that Jennifer. 🙂

  26. Connie Mace

    Love this….your cliffhangers kept me on edge all the way! You didn't get an interview, but you did get an arm around:)

    Thanking GOD for the music He gives to musicians like Chris Tomlin.

  27. Duane Scott

    Wow. So jealous… What a cool life you lead! I'm moving to your Iowa. Obviously, it's better than mine. 🙂

  28. Debra

    Tears … what fun … take that Slugworth! 🙂

  29. Christine

    Well, you know of course that I love this. From the audacious (and familiar) interview request, to the bedazzled t-shirts, to the finely aged quartet, to the questions buzzing in the journalistic brain, and the elusive interview within your grasp, but the graciousness to let it go and simply enjoy the moment. Sounds like a great night! And God bless the guy for getting sick and being generous!


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