One of my favourite types of book to read is a Christian biography. On a recent holiday,
I enjoyed reading ‘Grace, Grit and Gumption’ – the story of three men involved in the
Welsh revival in the early 1900s. It was encouraging to see the passion of these men
for local mission and their perseverance in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. One
highlight of the book was seeing many people from a very rough background coming to
know Jesus and making dramatic changes to their lives.
The thing I love about biographies is that you have the opportunity to step back and focus
on the big picture of another person’s life. While a biography often includes a fairly
honest reflection on the person’s struggles, weaknesses and temptations, as you continue
to turn the pages you see these challenges in the context of their whole life. You
see joys in the midst of disappointments, a growth in the character that comes through
setbacks or failures and the ongoing impact that someone’s life and ministry can bring
even after their death. I find it encouraging to see the way God works through both the
ups AND the downs of life to grow his people.
It’s worth saying up front, reading about the lives of others won’t make our own struggles
disappear overnight – we should remember the Bible’s clear message that the
Christian life brings many challenges. However, a good biography can remind us to
keep the bigger picture in mind as we live out our everyday life. If you’re in the midst of
some struggle, can you see a way that God might be growing your character? If your
life seems to be going well, can you see the danger of getting caught up in the world?
We can be so busy with our everyday life that we can forget that God often works
through these everyday events to grow us to be more like the Lord Jesus.
As you take the time to reflect on your own life, perhaps you could consider encouraging
others with your story. I’m not suggesting that we each publish our own biography,
but simply look for opportunities in our conversations to share how God has been growing
us to be more like Jesus. Perhaps you could take some time this week to reflect on
the last 3 months, the last 3 years or even the last 30 years! How have you seen God
grow you in your character or convictions? If you’re honest, when have you failed to
trust in God or given into temptation?
But don’t keep these encouragements to yourself, pray that God would give you the
opportunity to encourage someone else with your story. Who knows – perhaps God will
use that small conversation to bring great change in the lives of others!