Each of us needs to know that we matter to God.
It is a gift to receive reassurances, now and then, about our value. And it is inspiring to hear from others about how God makes a big Kingdom deal out of our seemingly insignificant personal lives.
As we turn pages to a new year, in seasons of change and transition, or when life feels like a wilderness, each of us appreciates encouragement that our life matters somehow in the broader scheme of things.
I love to read. I don’t get much time for it but various things about reading make a powerful soul-fueler for me. Biographies and autobiographies, in particular, are a favorite genre of mine. I get important encouragement and inspiration from hearing how others have found faith in Jesus, endured adversity, persevered when life was a slog, learned new things, helped others, and had fun along the way.
In her book, Singing in the Dark, award-winning Christian music artist Ginny Owens helps readers understand the background of some incredible songs and she invites us to write our own prayers of worship, lament, and longing.
Ginny has been blind since she was three years old. She intimately understands how our lives write a story. Hers, like each of ours, is a story where joys and sorrows mingle. Hers, like each of ours, finds it places of resonance where someone recognizes a connection and finds themselves encouraged by something about Ginny’s experiences. How could she possibly have known as a young girl that God would give her a platform to lead hundreds of thousands of people around the world through darkness to see the Light of Christ?
Few of us can imagine that kind of impact will come from just living our lives.
I am mother to three grown daughters. Our youngest, Carly, is 23 years old but remains entirely dependent on others for her care. All day. And almost all night long. My story has become integrally woven with hers. Together, our stories are even more integrally woven with God’s.
When I read Ginny’s book last year, I was inspired to start writing poetry again as part of my daily worship. Although I wrote several songs as a child and teen, I hadn’t written prose or lyrics for decades. It was refreshing to me to experience this prayerful process in a new season.
One of those poems came easily. It emerged from my passion for sharing life together with others based on the simplicity of following Jesus into the world in whatever circumstances we find ourselves living.
I’ll Follow You With My Story
by Lisa Jamieson
You put me in a family
Chosen to leave Your mark
But something has derailed me
Now confused, I’m in the dark
I’ve stumbled time and time again
Looking for more love
Disappointed by a world of hurt
Left only to look above
I tried so hard to look for you
Resented the absence of your touch
The world dealt me a blessing
Of each one’s little, You made much
In the harsh and weary days and nights
My soul has languished low
Yet now I’m growing confident
That a story You still sow
You are the Story Maker
My faith and purpose lifted
Not by my efforts or earning
But by You simply gifted
As my tale is woven
My eyes catch Your vision
When Your cross was raised, and earth was split
My happy ending given
With each new day I’m strengthened
By no deed of my own
But simply as I stumble
Within Your arms I’ve grown
The enemy may taunt me
Tension will remain
Life’s bitter cup will tempt me
I will wait for release from pain
All degree of patience
Will surely bring reward
As all delay is purposed
Confirmed and graced by Sword
I see the pace of healing now
Your ever-present hand
I’ll follow You with my story
Into the hungry land
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would one day be a special needs mom, let alone an advocate and pastor, working and doing life alongside families living with disability.
“You don’t always get to choose your circumstances, but you do get to choose the story your life tells.”
Today’s culture seems fascinated with story. But there’s an essential distinction to recognize. We are part of God’s story. His story is first. Our story within His is what gives our story its real value. Our story within His story is what packs ours with power and Kingdom-sized fruit.
It matters Who we’re following when we go out into the world with ourselves. Because the ultimate Spirit coming across in our message must be Love. Oh! How challenging it can be to move myself out of the way and let Love lead!
When I ask God, “break my heart for what breaks Yours,” (lyric from the Hosanna! Song) He changes my heart. He changes the motivations and directions through which my personal story unfolds.
When Jesus said, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19), he was essentially saying, “Let me make a new kind of person out of you. I’ll show you how to be moved by LOVE. I’ll teach you how to bring My love to every other life You encounter.”
Oh, God, make it so!
Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost of His Highest (October 18 devotion), “Our Lord told us how our love for Him is to exhibit itself when He asked, ‘Do you love Me?’ (John 21:17). And then He said, ‘Feed My sheep.’ In effect, He said, ‘Identify yourself with My interests in other people,’ not, ‘Identify Me with your interests in other people.’”
Yes, friend, your story matters so very much — to many — and it is power in God’s hand. Follow Jesus into the world with it!
“The Goal is not for us to go out and make sure that the whole world knows who we are and what we do. The goal is to do what He’s called us to do in the place and the moment where we are.”
Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community alongside families living with disability.