When I first came up with my original title for this (“The Unfathomable Value of a Unique Life”), I left the entire document blank, and I thought about posting it that way. If indeed, the value of a unique life IS unfathomable, then no amount of description, no attempt to paint a picture is inadequate, and might as well be left unsaid.
In all honesty, it should be blank.
Still, we can explore, and muse, and be inspired by something unfathomable—the intricacies and inspirations we keep finding from ocean depths, e.g., or the farthest reaches of the mysteries of the universe.
I just finished reading a 6-book biography of a little-known figure who is so unique and astounding that it gave me a different perspective on how that box could be mused upon. And, interestingly, it brought more peace into my heart about who I am and what I am called to be.
When John the Baptizer was challenged by some petty thinkers that Jesus and His disciples were baptizing more than John, he showed not a lick of envy. And having read this bio, I felt the same way about this man, whose life is so uniquely stamped with the authority and gifting of God that it could easily create envy in some. Who is this man? Before I reveal that, let me give some statistics on the creation of this hidden jewel of a biography.
The author, Owen Jorgensen, was first drawn to write this bio at the age of 18, but waited almost that long again because he felt so unqualified. After the 17-year wait, he then spent another 17 years logging an average of 12 hours a week, some 10,000 hours total, researching and writing 380,000 words—and still felt he hadn’t done justice to the task. The content is so readable and believable, and can easily be documented, according to the author, from writings and audio recordings. Who then, is this figure?
Most people have never heard of him. Those who have heard of Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn have no idea that this man paved the way for the acceptance of their ministries by his amazing and often-verified accuracy of miracles and revelations in his ministry. His name is William Branham. The books are titled SUPERNATURAL: The Life of William Branham, and numbered 1-6, each with a subtitle describing the person and an aspect of his ministry.
William Marrion Branham was born in a two-room cabin in backwoods Kentucky April 9, 1906. Even his birth had more of the supernatural to it than most people see in a lifetime. The cabin had no windows except a hinged wooden section in the door. Around 5 am, when he was born, there were 5 people (parents, aunt & uncle, grandmother) in the cabin, and they opened the “window” to allow some light in. A ball of light entered the cabin, hovered over the baby for quite a few minutes, and then exited. Immediately, a dove lit on the ledge of the “window,” cooed several times, and flew off. Though none of the occupants were religious or church-attendees, they wondered what would become of this marvelous introduction.
Several times in his youth, even at times when having to help his father make moonshine during Prohibition, young William had supernatural encounters that were unexplainable, and he was told early on never to drink or smoke because of the call of God on his life. Eventually he felt called into ministry and learned how to deal with these supernatural encounters in bringing healings and even resurrections from the dead. He became an evangelist with such an amazing array of miracles, accompanied by 100% accuracy in the revelations he was given, that he was saddened and angered at the attempts to emulate him that often left people disillusioned and discouraged. In addition, his entire life seemed to be an uphill battle in learning how to discern and utilize his gifting, how to express it effectively, and how to leave a legacy that impacted the Kingdom of God in the way he felt called—a forerunner of Jesus’ second coming as John was a forerunner of his first.
And yet in all this, his humanness shines through because of Jorgensen’s ability to paint a flesh-and-blood person. He is seen to be an amazing huntsman, almost always able to kill squirrels with a single .22 shot. In Book 6, he was given a vision about what would happen when he went on his annual fall hunting expedition in the Rockies. He saw someone measuring an unusual rack from a caribou and saying that it measured 42”. He also saw himself killing a huge silver-tipped grizzly with a single shot. Both happened, and the dressed skin of the grizzly weighed 300 pounds; it became his prayer rug! In fact, after reading all 6 books, I felt I had come to know Branham as a person in such a way that I found myself grieving at his sudden and unexpected death in 1965.
Branham’s life was so unique that I found it encouraging in a surprising way: it dawned on me that I was not meant to be someone like him. The callings and visitations he experienced were not something he could have wished for or conjured up in his wildest imaginings—obviously, since they began at his birth. Knowing this uplifted me in that I realized that, if He had wanted, God could have caused me to have such kinds of revelations, visions, and supernatural experiences. He chose not to, and so I have some other purpose in life to fulfill.
My own life is unique, and more and more (I am now 60) I value that uniqueness. I was not called to be a William Branham, nor a John the Baptizer. I was called to be me. (I guess to be grammatically correct, I should say, “I was called to be I.”—I can even enjoy my own self-analyzing awareness!)
And YOU should value your own uniqueness. Each of us should, and in turn, we should value the uniqueness of each person we come into contact with. I like Matthew Kelly’s concept that we achieve the greatest happiness and sense of fulfillment when we help each other become the “best version” of who we were designed to be, called to be, chosen to be.
And part of my calling, my design, is to help others see that. That is why I write. Like St. Paul and Martin Luther, I can do no other. One of my most important goals in life is to move people a little closer to seeing the unfathomable value in themselves and in others, the unique contribution each of us alone has to offer. When you succeed at trying to imitate someone else or to be something you’re not meant to be, you’re making two mistakes: 1) You’re getting in the way of someone else being the unique gift they were meant to be; and 2) You’re leaving your own spot of uniqueness unfilled, undone.
Samuel Johnson said, “No man was ever great by imitation.”
- Be different.
- Be outstanding.
- Be unique.
Be great. You were meant to be.