“but with Your own eyes You saw my body being formed. Even before I was born, You had written in Your book everything I would do.” ~ Psalm 139:16 (CEV)

You could say our lives are one big story containing a beginning, middle, and end. Some of our stories are humorous or adventurous, while others are filled with sadness or with horrifying unpleasantries. Some of our stories tell a tale of death, damage and turmoil whereas others speak of life, hope, and joy. Some may be gifted in length even as others are cut short and suddenly.

I was thinking about this while driving one day and pondered the story of my own life.

I had lived twenty years of my life traveling on a very wide path of self-destruction with no moral compass to lead me back home. Even though I had believed in God, my life was completely self-centered and controlled by my one and only self. It was no way to live but it was how I lived for two decades of my life. Honestly, it was how I always imagined living and never thought anything would or could ever be different.

That is, until I crashed and burned and realized living for my self made me by myself and without any purpose. It was an empty, meaningless way to spend my time here on earth and deep down in the pit of my soul I knew there had to be another way.

I had to fail and I had to hit my own version of rock bottom but I am so thankful that I did. Being alone in the dark, wallowing in my own self-pity and hoping there was more to life than what I was experiencing, I chose to look upward. I finally saw the Light my husband (then-boyfriend) had told me about. My soul was awakened and my eyes opened to the magnificent presence of Jesus and God’s beautiful promise achieved on the cross.

While I believe part of my purpose here on earth is for God to use my story to tell His story through my gift of writing and the ministry of Seeking Grace & Gratitude, that is not what was on my mind during my driving commute that day.

What was heavy on my heart was the thought that there are so many people in this world who don’t recognize their life is a unique story that was written long before they even existed on earth. Every single person God ever created (yes, even those precious babies conceived who tragically had never uttered a breath outside of the womb) was placed in this world during a specific era, for a specific time, in order to fulfill God’s perfectly designed plan for his or her life.

I don’t know about you but that gives me goosebumps of excitement to even begin to fathom God’s grand plan to not only consider me but to also write me in as part of His marvelous story.

But so many of us, including followers of Christ, skeptics and unbelievers, simply don’t believe we are valuable, enough, qualified, capable or worthy of purpose so we go about living life like there is no end in sight (YOLO!) even though we know our life will inevitably come to an end someday. When we think that way or live that way, we feel as if our world is shaken or torn apart when disaster strikes or when tragedy hits the heart of our home. If we are fearful, shamed, guilty, defeated, overwhelmed, anxious, etc., Satan has won and we are right where he wants us. Those feelings we are experiencing do not come from our Lord above. They come from the world below and we will be enslaved and bound to these bitter lies if we let them control us.

Oh, sweet friends, YOU MOST DEFINTELY ARE ENOUGH! You are good enough for a second (or third, or hundreth, or millionith chance!)! You are fully capable through the gifts God has intentionally gifted to you! You are valuable and one-of-a-kind – there never is, was or ever will be anyone else in this world like you! You are qualified and worthy of purpose through grace and redemption!

It doesn’t matter what you have done, where you have come from, or who you were living for. Nope. None of that matters to God because all He cares about is you, your salvation and bringing you to your Heavenly home. All you have to do is say “yes” to Him and acknowledge that your failures (past, present, and future) are not fatal. God can use your story to bring Him glory. Your story both before accepting Christ and after is worthy of Godly praise and He will use you to encourage others and to help grow His Kingdom.

You may be saying to yourself, “Ok. Well, I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, but I still mess up.”

Guess what my friends? That is what the cross is all about! God’s grace was gifted to each of us the moment Jesus was sacrificed. Jesus paid the price for all of our shortcomings…ALL. OF. THEM. Becoming a Christ follower doesn’t save us from sin, it saves us from the fiery evils of hell. Yes, we will still mess up even after welcoming the Holy Spirit into our hearts because we are humanly flawed and bent toward sin. [Ref. Genesis 3 – Fall of Man] We will sin because we are broken, but we are not undone. When we accept Jesus’ great sacrifice for us on the cross we are filled with His Spirit instead of filled with our self or things of the world. We are redeemed and are in the process of sanctification [i.e. transformation] to become more and more like the person God created us to be – the person with a unique and specific purpose whose story was written long before creation even existed.

Perhaps you are wondering why bad things happen to “good” people or why God would allow for so much hate, sin, and evil to occur in the world? How could anything bad be used to glorify God when it appears to be pure evil?

I often wonder that about my own story and question why God would allow me to wander away and ruin my life. The simple answer to that is free-will. If you go back to the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1-3, you will learn we were perfectly designed free from sin but as soon as Adam and Eve gave into temptation in the garden of Eden, sin entered the world and cursed all of humanity. That awful curse bent us away from God and toward the world. This is why we sin and experience emotional distress brought on by shame, guilt and the like.

And when it comes to bad things happening to “good” people…well, that is much harder to process and digest and there is no “right” answer. It is definitely one of those things I hope to ask God someday. What I can tell you from my personal story is when you experience pain, heartbreak, and tragedy, you are given a choice on how to respond – you can choose to question God, worry or fear the worst, or become angry or anxious (which are of the world) OR you can choose to seek hope, strength, courage, peace and understanding. Let me tell you, I have chosen both and one has led me further down a road of emptiness while the other opened a door of purpose, possibilities and fullness. Choosing the latter is what pushed me out of my comfort zone, closer to Jesus and stronger in my faith. I have not been the same person ever since and there is no other way I’d rather live than with total abandonment of my self and complete surrender to my Savior.

Terrible things like a child getting cancer, a natural disaster wiping out an entire town or a horrifying terrorist attack will occur in our broken, fallen world but if we seek God we will find peace and hope in Him. Sometimes it’s our addictions (sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc) or our selfishness that get the best of us and lead us to God. Other times it could be a health or relational issue. Whatever it is, Jesus is there to comfort you and settle the cries of your heart. Trust God has a better way and a better plan for you, for us, and for our loved ones. Better and more spectacular than you could ever imagine. All we have to do is trust Him and let Him write our story.

I had once heard someone say the most hell a Christ-follower will ever experience is life on earth while earth is the closest thing to Heaven an unbeliever will ever experience. That gives me hope in our broken, fallen world. Hope for the lost and trust that my story, and yours, can assist in leading the lost to the cross.

Our unique life stories are all a part of God’s grand story to use us for a specific purpose. That purpose, my friends, is to build God’s Kingdom and to bring hope to all who will hear that things will get better. Things will be better. It’s eternity we are after, not the here and now. I pray you will always seek Jesus, find Him, and allow our Father to write the story He wrote for you in His Book well before you were even born. 🙂

“I have loved you from the start
I have seen your hurting heart (your hurting heart)
And you feel so lonely, but you keep on hiding
‘Cause you feel so guilty for what you’ve done, but
There’s no distance too far, that I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark, that I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are, if you need proof
Take a look at these scars, and know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never, never too far gone

Oh ah-oh, ah-oh

You have run down every road
And you’ve lost your way back home (your way back home)
And you feel so dirty; you know you’re unworthy
Feeling undeserving of any love, but
There’s no distance too far, that I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark, that I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are, if you need proof
Take a look at these scars, and know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never, never too far gone

Oh ah-oh, ah-oh

You will never outrun my love, my love, my love
You will never outrun my love, my love, my love”

            ~ Lyrics to ‘Never Too Far Gone’ by Jordan Feliz

 

“If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him”

            ~ Lyrics to ‘My Story,’ by Big Daddy Weave

 

“They say
You can give the blind their sight
And You can bring the dead to life
You can be the hope my soul’s been seekin’

I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I do, that You can make me new, oh

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart”

            ~ Lyrics to ‘Write Your Story’ by Francesca Battistelli