An ornament on the shape of a heart lies on top of a pile of postcards
Ministry, Pastoral Life, Preaching

Devotion: The Stories that Shape Our Lives

This post is part of the weekly series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.” 

Scripture: Psalm 40:3 (NIV)

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him 

An ornament on the shape of a heart lies on top of a pile of postcards

A Happy Memory 

When it was time for me to go away to college, my grandparents took me shopping to get some supplies for my dormitory. While we searched for back to school items at a local department store, my eye fell upon a faux steamer trunk that was on display near the front of the shop. I couldn’t see the price tag and didn’t realize how much it cost until the cashier rang up our purchases.

Tears came into my eyes as my grandfather carried the large trunk through the parking lot back to our car. I knew our family had limited resources. “Thank you,” I said earnestly, “I know that trunk was expensive.”

My grandfather, a man of few words, just smiled at me.

“No, really!” I insisted. “Thank you. It means a lot.”

After a pause my grandfather replied simply, “That’s all right. Use it to put something important in. Just do well in college.”

Eight years later, my grandfather passed away. He had been deeply supportive of my call to attend seminary.

It’s been years since my grandfather passed away, but I still mourn his passing. Every single day I think of him and feel a tightness in my chest. The loss of him is like a toothache. Most of the time it’s easy to ignore, but every so often the pain throbs so intensely that I find it difficult to breathe.

I felt the loss of my grandfather so acutely because his presence in my life helped to assuage the grief I felt over my lack of a biological father. I didn’t get the chance to know my father when I was young, but my grandfather more than made up for that loss. My grandfather was a steady and constant presence in my life. He had been the glue which held our family together. When he died, my family began to crumble. Every time I preside at a funeral, I am reminded of the loss of my beloved grandfather.


A Precious Gift

Today, the same trunk that my grandfather purchased for me all those years ago sits in the guest room of the parsonage. It is overflowing with some of my most treasured possessions: diaries, journals, and Writer’s Notebooks dating back over seventeen years, some from as far back as when I was in eighth grade. I think of my grandfather and smile every time I open that trunk to place another precious journal inside that I have filled with my scribbles, plans, poems, fears, and dreams.

As a child, I began writing in order to cope with all my feelings and conflicting emotions. The first story I ever penned was in a brightly colored notebook with rainbow carousel horses dancing on the front cover.


May the Story of God’s Love Shape Our Lives

Words, poems, and short stories provided a way for me to process what I was thinking and feeling. As I grew older, I began the spiritual practice of writing down my prayers. Sometimes I wrote letters to God.

I think that in the end, the reason I find so much comfort in words, is because Jesus was the Word made Flesh. In essence, Jesus was the most beautiful poem of all. His life and the story of God’s love are the only story that truly matter. When I need comfort or consolation, I turn to the words in God’s Holy Book.


On this beautiful spring day, as I watch the world bursting forth into new life, it is my hope that our lives  will be filled with many exciting stories and beautiful poems.

I hope that I will have many more keepsake items and journals to store in my precious trunk.- but most of all, I hope that we are all inspired live in a way that is shaped by the story of God’s miraculous love. 



This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”

Now, it’s your turn! What Scripture verse is inspiring you this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. As a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning of my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday.

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Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series! 

Trisha @ Joy of Reading
Jacquelyn @ A Heavenly Home

5 thoughts on “Devotion: The Stories that Shape Our Lives”

  1. What a beautiful and precious gift from you grandfather! I love the idea of writing letters to Jesus – thank you! Have a blessed day 🙂


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