The first car that I can remember being used by my family was a 1935 Pontiac. They are not made today. That car did not carry us very far, but it did run with some hesitation. The first car I remember in our family sat in a wooden shed. It was black with a cloth top. I do not remember that car ever running. We walked where we wanted to go until this Pontiac came to our home.

Those cars would be more valuable in today’s market than they were when I rode in the back seat as a child. Have you looked at the value of cars lately, especially some of the cars that we used as a necessity to get us to where we wanted to go? Now they are rebuilt and refurbished and to buy them is to buy a memory.

How do we determine value? I have just finished re-reading the history of the Civil War period. The Federal General was Ulysses S. Grant [who later became President], and the Confederate General was Robert E. Lee [whose statue in Richmond, Virginia was recently torn down]. There were over 500,000 men killed in this conflict, and great value was lost. The planters of the south, who controlled vast plantations, raising rice, cotton, and sugar cane, lost the value of their land. The Confederate dollar was devalued to $0.00. Vast buildings were destroyed by angry citizens, and railroads that carried supplies were purposely destroyed. Untold millions in value were lost, both in tangible and intangible goods.

I have met with hundreds of people who have lost value. Here, I speak not of material value, though that is important, but I speak of human value. The Civil War that has created the loss in value is not something without but within. When I lose significant material value, I realize that it does affect our own sense of self-worth. If my home is destroyed or my auto breaks beyond repair, or I am diagnosed with a terminal disease, we go through a period of remorse, and it affects my feelings of value. A broken relationship is one of the most devastating tragedies that I can go through. When I lose value in the eyes of another, especially in the eyes of one whom I respected, the valley I go through is deep. I lose great value when I feel that others do not value me. They will “use” me. But I am only of worth for what I can do for them, not for who I am. Your value does not decrease based on someone else’s inability to see your worth. Value does not necessarily come from the outside. It comes from how I see myself and how I perceive God’s love for me. But then I have met people who feel that they have so little value that even God does not care for them. This certainly is not true. Much of what I do in life and my success or failure does not depend on others but on how and what I feel about my own value.  Can you say with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”? Do I feel sufficient to live the life that God has called me to? Will God give me life, then throw me to the lions? Not the God I find described in scripture or observed in the life of Jesus.

In recent years I have made it my objective to become better acquainted with the Apostle Paul. I am not referring to his writings but who he was as a man. Paul had reason to boast in his attainments. His education was the best a young Jewish man could attain. The position he attained in life was sure to give him value. He was a member of the Jewish elite in government and was given very responsible assignments. On one of those assignments, he was to travel to far off Damascus, to investigate the people who were followers of the so-called Messiah. While he was on the road to fulfill this task, he met a power greater than he had ever met before. He was knocked to the ground; he heard voices and saw light so bright, it blinded him. He was led into the city, blinded for three days. Here was a man who considered himself of great value to the Jewish nation and to God, sitting blinded, in a stranger’s house, unable to do anything.

It was during these days that his values changed. This event so impacted him that he traveled to Arabia, [probably Petra] and for three years rethought his theology, who he was as a man, and what he was really called to do. Three years is a significant period of time to try to change who I am, change my value system, and plan a new life. Paul describes this change in his values in a brief statement to the Philippian Church: “…I count all things as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish for the sake of knowing Christ.”

This man thought he had found value in who he was and what he had attained, but not until this experience on his way to Damascus did he find real value. Yes, I must have value in who I am as a person, but eternal value can only be found when the Eternal God comes to take up residence in my life. Who He is has value, and that eternal value is passed on to me, and I find because I am valuable to Him, I find value in life.

I have struggled with value over the years. I  think the greatest struggle I ever lived through was the struggle to say an eternal yes to the call of God on my life. In my early life, I placed value on who I was and what I had planned for my life. I had value in who I was as a young man; I had value in what I had attained and where I was headed. Then God placed this bombshell in my life that is totally indescribable, except to say that I knew everything in my young life was about to change. I went into an unknown future with little value. Why? Because I had to re-describe my life and where it was going. I did not know where life was now taking me. It took time for me to get my feet under me and again describe my life and where it was going.

Over the years, value returned as I let go of what I thought I knew about where life would take me and allowed God to direct me in a way that I had not planned. Yes, my value has come from my vocation, my positions, and anything I attained, but the older I get, the more I realize that my only true value is in knowing Christ and living the life He gave me to live. Has life given me everything I wanted or expected? No, but I have attained more value than I ever could have found in following my own path.

You are of value to God regardless of where life has you right now.

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