Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Back in 2004, a Hollywood movie came out called Shall we Dance. It wasn’t a big hit, but starred Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, a remake of an older Japanese movie.
I have not personally seen it. But I’m told one of the characters, Beverly, hires a detective. She believes her husband is having an affair with another woman. In one scene, she says to the detective: “All these promises that we make and we break, why is it that you think people get married?” The detective responds, “Passion”. Beverly shakes her head: “No”. “Why, then?” the detective asks.
And Beverly gives a most interesting answer: “Because we need a witness to our lives. There are seven billion people on this planet. I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything: the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things—all of it, all the time, every day. You’re saying your life will not go unnoticed, because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed, because I will be your witness.”
I thought that was a fascinating response—and very challenging. The worst thing for us is to go through life unnoticed. As if we don’t matter. Or that anyone cares about us. Beverly at least understood something special about a marriage vow, which, if taken seriously, means two people are committing themselves to each other for life.
The boy and the girl at the bus stop
I’m sure you want to live a life that matters—to have that assurance you are making a difference somehow. Because in life there are no ordinary people. You do matter. And don’t let any wrong childhood experiences sway your thinking. In the 1990s Darden Smith, a musician from the US, wrote a good song called “Broken Branches”. He lives in Austin, Texas, and was downtown near the bus station watching the street people who hung out there.
One couple in particular got his attention. He wrote about them:
Two people stand on the corner
Counting up some bus fare change
Boy and a girl—26 or 7
Clothes are all in disarray.
He describes their appearance and the kind of life they must have lived to end up the way they are:
Too many back alleys, back seats
Too many park bench beds
Too much careless love.
And then he asks:
Which way does the wind blow?
How blue is the sky?
Can you count the teardrops
Falling from a mother’s eyes?
Hey, that’s somebody’s daughter
Hey, that’s somebody’s son.
Somebody’s pride and joy
Turned out to be
A broken branch off the family tree.
Darden Smith simply tells us: before you dismiss a person, or judge them too harshly, or walk past them and pretend not to notice, that’s somebody’s daughter, that’s somebody’s son. Tears have been shed for him or her. Long ago there were hopes and dreams, pride and joy. Once they mattered to someone.
The One who always cares about you
There is one who has promised to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things. All of it, all the time. Because you matter to him. He is the God of the universe who has made himself known in the person of Jesus Christ. And because he cares for you, because he loves you, your life matters.
And that means there is no ordinary person. Each individual is unique and loved by God. That’s a tremendous concept to think over, every day. Sit down and carefully think it through. It can make all the difference between a happy or unhappy life. To think God, the eternal maker of our universe, loves you and me is mind-boggling. And what you think about life will determine what you do with the life you have.
God revealed himself in Jesus Christ and cares about you as a unique person.
It means that life is a trust. Life is a gift that God places in our care. We have been entrusted with this most precious thing called a human life. And like any gift, it can be wasted or squandered. Or it can be used for the purpose it was intended. And whatever we choose to do with our lives, it matters. Why? Because we matter to God. Your life is God’s gift to you. And most of us live with a daily fear that our lives won’t matter.
We are God’s workmanship
We feel like we need to do something spectacular in order to leave behind a legacy. We think that we have to earn something big to make our lives worth anything. There is this modern idea that says you need to do something great with your life. You should. You should do something great with your life, but it won’t make your life worth more.
In the Kingdom of God, no matter what you accomplish, your life matters. No matter what you do or how many trophies you have on the wall, no matter what you can say at your retirement party or even on your deathbed, no matter what you accomplish: Your life matters. Your life matters because you are loved by God.
There is no such thing as an ordinary person. God says you are special, because he loves you. In a world with so many other human beings, it’s tempting to feel insignificant every now and then. We find ourselves wondering, do the things I do matter? If I were not here, couldn’t somebody else fill my shoes, perhaps even better than me? What will my legacy be?
The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Notice two points in this verse:
- God created you. You are not an accident.
- God has a plan for you. You have a purpose in life.