A Story and a Song
Sometimes even within the ordinariness of life and the challenges of living in a fallen world—just sometimes—we get a glimpse of something more. Deeper, more lasting, more satisfying, deeply touching the soul.
Read this story that birthed a song. Then listen to the song.
It begins with a difficult circumstance, a narrow-gauge train, and a tiny mountain town.
“There’s our car—at the end,” my husband said.
That morning, as we boarded the narrow-gauge train car, I anticipated a pleasant trip into the mountains and back. At least when admiring the scenery through the window or standing on the observation platform, I should be able to see well.
This trip to Colorado had already been frustrating enough because of my declining eyesight.
Soon we found ourselves surrounded by mountain scenery.
“Look at the river below. We’re practically at the edge of the mountain!” I exclaimed.
For the next couple of hours, we chugged into forests, around bends, and through small patches of meadow.
Around lunchtime we reached our destination—a small mountain town. The train’s occupants spilled out into shops and restaurants that lined the streets.
After lunch, we headed back to the train yard. Since the train wasn’t ready to load, we went into a couple of gift shops. I looked for a small vase I could put on my kitchen windowsill.
We didn’t have time to browse. Besides, I couldn’t see well enough in the shops to find anything on my own. A seasoned shopkeeper showed us some small blue vases. I examined each in my hands. Finally, I choose one and asked if she could package it for our flight back home.
“You have beautiful hands,” the shopkeeper said as she took the vase from me.
My hands! I didn’t give them much thought. They were functional—sort of. But I rarely thought about how they looked. How deformed they had become over the years.
I didn't know what to say.
In my more confident moments, I could imagine God saying those words: “You have beautiful hands.” But God sees beyond my gnarly fingers and rheumatoid nodules.
Who would see—and a stranger at that—beyond the abnormalities to the life God has birthed through years of suffering?
“I've had rheumatoid arthritis for almost 50 years,” I explained. “God has used the arthritis to do a beautiful work in my life.”
As she finished packaging the vase, my husband saw the train, ready to load.
“We need to go,” he said.
Again, we admired the beauty of creation, this time primarily from the back observation deck.
All the while, the woman’s kind words echoed in my heart. I could clearly see how the RA had been a great blessing. But it wasn’t so obvious how my recent challenges with declining vision could enrich my life. At best, it was frustrating. When I looked ahead at the unknown, it was terrifying.
Back at our hotel, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to learn how to walk by faith through the unknown. And I wanted to share it with others through a book. I wrote out my thoughts as well as the words to a worship song that came to me.
Now, over a year later, the book is finished. Finding Hope: a journey of faith through uncertain times is a 40-page gift book chock-full of colorful, captivating photographs, scripture, and encouraging truths I have learned in the past year. (Available on Amazon. Below are images of a few of the pages.) The words to the song “Rising Higher: Praise Song” are in the book and a recording of the song is on my website.
Today, when I think of the words, “You have beautiful hands,” I value them for more than the encouragement they were meant to be. Yes, they are a compelling reminder that God has done something grace-filled through past losses and pain. More importantly for today, they are an on-going encouragement that our faithful God can do something beautiful through today’s challenges—whatever the future may bring.
God can do the same amazing work through your challenges too.