You Are God’s Good Idea

February 18, 2013 | 30 comments

It was Ash Wednesday night, a half hour before the pastor would put an ashen cross on every forehead under the steeple of my country church.

Locally, our church has informally been dubbed, “the food church.” We like to eat together, to put our feet under the same table. So it was no surprise that before we recited the creeds, we gathered at long tables in the fellowship hall for bowls of steaming soup.

I had a creamy spoon-full of chicken-and-rice in my hand, when a good friend set her plastic tray down across from mine.

She put her elbows on the table, remarked about my new blog and asked me, in essence, to define my calling. (She’s a teacher in our community, and always asks the questions that get to the heart of the matter.)

I sat there a while, thinking about what I wanted to say. The answer to that one question — how did you get to where you are, right now? — is often a long time coming for any of us. And if we’re drawing breath, we’re still mid-story, just trying to figure it all out.

My Story

You see, I’ve been writing professionally since I was 16 years old, first for a tiny local weekly, where I wrote high school baseball stories.

I grew up, and so did the stories.

I spent the next years of my career covering homicides, tornadoes, boring city council meetings, the 2000 presidential election (the year of the “hanging chad”), amazing human feats of courage, daring rescues, harrowing tales that took me to strange and (sometimes scary) places. I always carried a spiral-bound notebook, and always carried questions for someone else to answer.

It’s a long story, but I’ll keep it short: We moved back to the farm. The bylines stopped, but I still carried a notebook, still carried a desire to chase after a good story. I started asking myself those questions in the notebook. Just started asking myself all those pressing “Whys…”

Friend, I stopped chasing stories. And when I wasn’t even looking, the story came chasing after me. And now I’m writing about it, the redemptive story of Christ in each of us.

But unlike all those politicians, Christ gives me a straight answer. He always answers my calls. And he’s absolutely NOT lying when He says He can walk on water.

(And, spoiler alert here, this news story has a happy ending. I know, because I’ve read the last pages of the book. Jesus wins.)

But there’s something that hasn’t changed all these years: I firmly believed then — and now — that everyone has a story. And I firmly believe that you are God’s great idea.

You are a masterpiece, and I’d take all the ink in all the mismatched pens in my messy kitchen drawer to let you know it.

you matter, masterpiece, pens

You. Matter.

So, last week under the church steeple, I set down my spoon, leaned over the table, and told my friend my purpose in writing: “To let people know that they are loved by God, that their lives and their stories matter to God, and that they matter to me, too.”

Right here, in my own community, people ache to know that they count. They want to be picked. They want to be on someone’s list. They desperately want to know that their lives matter.

Maybe that someone is you.

— You, the tired mama with the two toddlers and yesterday’s supper dishes still in the kitchen sink.

— You, with the hurt in your eyes.

— You, with the rejection letter in your mailbox.

— You, with the world turned upside down.

— You, feeling unseen, unimportant, unworthy, unnoticed.

I can think of no more important words that I can tell you today than these: You. Matter. You are God’s masterpiece. You were created anew in Christ Jesus, so you can do the good things He planned for you, long ago.

He had such a good idea when He made you.

We are dust, and to dust we shall return. And someday, we’ll sit across a great table, leaning in toward one another, and whispering to each other, with tears in our eyes: “We made it! We really made it! He said we would, and He kept His good promise.”

by | February 18, 2013 | 30 comments

30 Comments

  1. Simply Darlene

    Thank you miss JDL, for continuing to use your platform for His glory.

    Blessings.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      To Him be all glory and honor. Thank you, Darlene. Have a blessed week!

      Reply
  2. lynndmorrissey

    Jennifer, you are always such a precious encourager, and though I know that the Lord used your writing gift powerfully when you were a reporter, I’m so glad that now, when you write, you just report directly to Him. The stories you write here are bringing such comfort and hope. And you are showing those who don’t even think that they have a story to tell, that they do. I’m sure over the weeks and months and years, you will help them pen their own precious stories in the Lord. And I love how you turned those journalistic 5 W’s & and H on their ear and let them probe your own heart. It’s a great place for others to start as they begin to live out and write their own stories, as they let Jesus pose those questions to them. Parenthetically, in journal classes, I love to have women answer some of the questions that Jesus asked others in Scripture–such as “Do you want to get well?” It’s a great way to let Him probe our own hearts adn tell our own stories. And you’re so right! He *does* have answers. I don’t find that He always answers those I ask Him–at least, perhaps, not right away or in the way I would want or expect. But I love that He lets me ask because it draws me to Him. And when I don’t feel I get the answer I want, I realize ultimately that He Himself is the answer that I need. And He is enough.
    Keep writing! Keep encouraging! Keep telling His story, your story, and ours!
    Love
    Lynn

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      “You just report directly to Him.” 🙂

      Yes, God is my Editor in Chief.

      Interesting that you would use the question “Do you want to get well?” here in the comment box. That’s a critical question that I ask myself in my upcoming book!

      Thank you for encouraging me BACK, Lynn.

      Reply
  3. Lisa notes...

    Thanks for this encouragement, Jennifer. Yes, everyone has a story! And they all are important and are worthy to be heard. Thanks for doing such a beautiful job getting the word out. I love your story.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Lisa! Beautiful Lisa! It’s such a joy to see you here in the comment box. Here’s a God-Incidence … I was just thinking about you this morning, and your beautiful ministry of words. And then, … here you are! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Ann Kroeker

    Thank you for this reminder for me, for everyone who visits regularly, and everyone who stumbles upon this in search of answers, hope, meaning, and a glimpse of a personal, loving God.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I always appreciate your visits, and your words, Ann. This is my prayer, Ann, that people would encounter a loving and faithful God in this place. Thank you for the encouragement.

      Reply
  5. Eileen

    LOVE this. Your reason for writing is a beautiful one.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Eileen. All for Him…

      Reply
  6. Michelle DeRusha

    I love how our stories are a little bit similar this way.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I do, too, Michelle. Makes me smile. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Laura Lee Groves

    We’ll sit across that great table — oh, the day!!

    I love your mission, Jennifer.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Would love to reach across a table and squeeze your hand, friend. If not this side of Heaven, then the other!

      Reply
  8. mgillgrist

    I love your story. I love that we can live knowing the end.
    And was so good for me to read today, I’m planning/speaking at our church’s women’s retreat in April and the theme is God’s masterpiece. Was just sitting down this afternoon to get my mind and heart around it- and here this popped up! Thank you!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Melanie,

      I prayed just now for you as you prepare to speak. I pray that the Spirit gives you a fresh and encouraging word for the women. I wish I could hear it!

      Reply
  9. Kristin Hill Taylor

    My story is so much like your story. I became a Christian and decided I wanted to be a writer the same year — as a high school junior. I wrote stories for my high school newspaper, was the editor my senior year, came to college and left with a print journalism degree, interned at a newspaper I loved, worked at The Associated Press, worked at a couple smaller newspapers and then quit my job but kept the notebook and pen near. I still do. Once you start writing, to stop writing doesn’t really seem like an option. I’m glad you’re telling these stories of redemption and hope. And I’m glad I found you here.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      The AP! Awesome. Where were you based out of Kristin? I would love to hear more about your story, Kristin. I think we must have a lot in common. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Kel Rohlf

    Jennifer- Thank you for this encouragement today! I need to remember that I matter 🙂 I appreciate your ministry in encouraging us writers and readers to live out our God calling! Becoming the masterpieces that he planned a long time ago and continues to refine, hone and tweak into His glorious image!

    Btw…thank you for following over at Nourishment for the Soul…it means a lot to me…I look forward to hearing you share and speak at the Jumping Tandem retreat…

    Reply
  11. kendalprivette

    you know what’s awesome about “workmanship?” it means poem. oh, glory.

    Reply
  12. Emily Wierenga

    oh, i LOVE how you stopped chasing stories, and how they began chasing you. that defines a calling perfectly.

    Reply
  13. lynndmorrissey

    Oh wow, Jennifer! Now that’s a teaser if there ever were one! Can’t wait to have that book in my hands! I”m sooo proud of you!

    Reply
  14. Margaret Feinberg

    Jennifer, what a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing and always being so real with your readers.

    Reply
  15. Jillie

    Looking above to That Day, Jennifer, when our feet will be under the same table, leaning in with tears in our eyes over The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. What a glorious Day that will be, when we get to meet Him (and each other) face-to-face!
    Thank you for being HERE, writing your stories of encouragement and love.

    Reply
  16. livingrealblog

    What an incredible purpose, and beautiful reply you gave your friend. I’ve only recently found your blog, but selfishly I’m pleased you’ve chosen to share your caring and love through this platform. Blessings. . .

    Reply
  17. Nancy Ruegg

    You expressed the hope to Ann Koeker (above) that people would encounter a loving and faithful God when they visit your blog. Rest assured, we do. We also encounter that kind of woman, who lovingly shares truth and faithfully keeps it worthwhile. Thank you, Jennifer for giving your time, strength, and effort in order to encourage us–every time you write.

    Reply
  18. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson)

    Oh, how I love those folks who ask questions that get to the heart of the matter! And oh, how I love how you are using this space to do the same!

    Reply
  19. Elaine

    I came her from Nancy’s FB link. I’ve been crying for days wondering if I really do matter. How I could have been deceived and believed lies that so many others saw through and discarded… wasted years. I so want to believe I was a good idea.

    Reply
  20. Lisa @besidestillwaters.blogspot

    A story that begins with the dust of Lent but leads to heartwarming encouragement. Enjoyed this, [and because I’m a writer] especially the ‘ink’ part. SMILE.

    Reply
  21. Erica

    Just what I needed to hear.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Mid-week Question of the Week~February 20~Care and Feeding « Because Of Grace - [...] And, please remember… You. Matter. You are God’s good idea –what a great thought from Jennifer Dukes Lee.  [...]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest