A review of Liz Carter's latest book 'Valuable'

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A review of Liz Carter's latest book 'Valuable'
Recognising Our True Value

Prepare to be both challenged and strengthened! Liz Carter underlines the truth of how God sees us, which is often at odds with how we see ourselves and others, especially in how ‘useful’ we think we are. Valuable is a journey away from lies about ourselves and God, and culminates in our true identity and ultimate purpose in Jesus Christ.

Living with a chronic illness, Liz has personally experienced feelings of uselessness. She writes authentically from her own experience, but draws upon several powerful stories from others which help bring understanding. Jesus also used stories of, and came alongside, those who were weak, weary and foolish in the eyes of the world. Liz points to Jesus on the cross who was despised and seen as weak, yet His is ‘the central story in all our stories’ (p.119). These accounts also challenge readers to consider how the strong and acclaimed are often applauded at the expense of those who are weak.

She helpfully examines how the world pushes the message of self-improvement, leading to the usefulness and productivity lie. Society shows adverts linking productivity to success. Social media shows only a person’s success, and rarely their failures. Feelings of uselessness are whispered within, where the strong and beautiful are elevated to greater heights, and those on the margins are pushed further down. Valuable shows the deep and harmful impact of this societal narrative by shining a light on the truth. Liz says, ‘Weakness is a place where we experience God’s power, and a place where God’s power is displayed to others around us, too’ (p.82).

The Bible is insightfully analysed, in places highlighting specific words to help us understand the original text. For example, ideas such as God ‘using us’ for His purposes, although often shared to encourage, can sound exploitative, controlling and manipulative to some, portraying God as a user. Yet, we are ‘carefully crafted creations’ designed for relationship with our Creator. Words matter, and how we use them shape how we view God, others and ourselves. This is powerfully revealed in Tracy Williamson’s story, who is a deaf Christian author, and was wounded by the words of others (ch.5). Yet, that was not the end of Tracy’s story! Reading the transformation in her life was inspiring, and demonstrated the practical implications of words we use.

Liz’s love for the Lord springs forth from the pages, and she writes clearly and faithfully from start to finish. There is a reflection prayer at the end of each chapter which provides space to bring what was just read before God. This is followed by a couple of questions, helping the reader to practically apply what they have read to their own lives. For those who are quick to forget what they have read or pause between reading a chapter, there are helpful subheadings within each chapter, plus a brief summary at the beginning of each chapter of what was covered previously. A seven-day reflection guide can be found at the end of the book, with a prayer of blessing at the end.

This book gives a refreshing perspective on weakness. Stories of human weakness and God’s transforming power are written throughout the pages of the Old and New Testament. However, Christians need to live a different narrative than society today. Therein lies the challenge. This is not a nice theory to rinse around the conscience and then to spit out and forget. It is a biblical call to holiness. It reminds us that we are all part of one body, and when one part suffers, we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26). As Liz powerfully shares, ‘Without weakness, we would have no need of reliance on each other. We wouldn’t, in fact, look much like a body at all; we would become complacent in our individualism, mired more deeply in self’ (p.69).

Moving to a poverty-stricken estate in Birmingham aged 13, Liz saw the narrative spoken over generations who found themselves believing this lie that they were useless. Those early encounters with ‘the forgotten people’ on the margins stayed with her, as she writes: ‘As I witnessed amazing transformations in broken lives, I recognised that God sometimes calls us to difficult places to do difficult things, and that a passionate pursuit of Christ leads naturally to wanting to do the works of Christ. I now know that joining with Christ in these works should not be framed by our usefulness, but the holiness and fulfilment of heartfelt obedience’ (p.106). May that be the cry of the reader, to join with Jesus and partner with Him in the gospel, wherever He leads. 

Review by Ruth Clemence


Together Magazine

Together is the Christian resources magazine for the UK, with stories of what God is doing across the church today, book reviews and publishing industry news. Subscribe now at www.togethermagazine.org.

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Valuable (Paperback)
Liz Carter
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