I’ve been asked to share my testimony, and at first I approached this like I would my resume. I would just pull out a former example and tweak it into an updated version, highlighting the sort of things that would be most relevant in the current matter of hand. I wrote a version several years ago, even shared it on my website. It was the gold standard and would require the least amount of updating.
Of course, that version is nowhere to be found. Maybe it’s in the innards of my website and I just need to contact the hosting company to see if it’s tucked away somewhere in there. As I was pondering this, I became convicted of a few things.
- I’m approaching a spiritual exercise in a carnal manner.
- The details of my testimony have always been the same. It’s been my understanding of the events that has changed.
- Every testimony I’ve ever written has been way too much about me.
The request is still out there, and it’s one that I will honor. But how do you approach your testimony in a God-centered manner? It’s usually a story about how you behaved prior to your conversion to Christianity, how you came to Christianity, and how your behavior has improved from your conversion until now. Based on my understanding of Ephesians 2:8-9, I have decided to craft something a little different. I’ll still be writing from my own perspective, but my aim is to be more mindful of the story from God’s point of view. I hope that comes through.
I was raised in the church by parents who are committed to serving the Lord. Unfortunately, I didn’t share that commitment. I went to Sunday School, Sunday morning church, Sunday evening church and Wednesday services as a child. When I was old enough, I joined the church’s large youth group and enjoyed the pizza and games. I was exposed to the gospel. I could recite verses, find passages in my Bible and recite a sinner’s prayer, which I did. Many times.
And I didn’t care about any of it. The worship of God was something I endured, not enjoyed. I was not born again and my apathy toward God came out in a rebellious attitude toward all authority from my parents to my teachers. I looked for ways to defy them and few things were as satisfying to me as “getting away with it” for as long as I lived under the roof of my parents.
I eventually moved into my own apartment and began living a life consistent to my true beliefs. I chased after the pleasures of this world by worshiping my favorite idol, which would be myself. I did so by indulging in things that are sinful and in things that are harmful. I was arrogant and used others for my own satisfactions, not caring about the destruction I left behind.
This led to my becoming a father, and for selfish financial reasons, a husband as well. And I wasn’t good in either role. My dad asked me about reading my Bible throughout this time. He even bought me one that was separated out to be read through in one year’s time. His nagging never stopped, no matter how I responded. I knew that I would have to take a drastic step in order to tell him to leave me alone about it. I would have to read it, let him know for sure that I had read it, and then I could tell him to drop the subject.
I started a website to publicly express a recap of each day’s reading along with any thoughts I might have. I also started an email newsletter. My grandmother probably has printouts of these in a box somewhere. Nobody would question whether I had read the Bible or even if I had approached it with integrity.
Genesis, Job, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua all went by at a clip of about three chapters a day. I recapped each day’s reading and shared any thoughts I might have. God was working on me during this time, but I didn’t know it until I was somewhere in Judges.
I can’t tell you exactly where I was in the book. All I know is that it was far enough that I was tired of watching God bail out the Israelites, just to watch them turn back to their idols just as soon as they were rescued. And then He’d help them AGAIN! I was angry. God had given these ungrateful Israelites so many second chances that His own justice was called into question. They didn’t deserve His favor. They didn’t deserve a second chance any longer.
And if that was true, neither did I.
That thought sunk in. I had been spiritually dead all of these years. And because of that, I had no regard for God or His commandments. Because of that I had been a slave to sin, free to live a life of hedonism. Because of that I never cared about anybody but myself. And because of all of that I deserved no second chance. My eternal fate was right and just. I would be cast into the outer darkness where my sins would be punished for eternity.
Sounds depressing, right? I was sobbing over my computer as I wrote about those pesky Israelites because I knew I was worse than them. I knew that God would save them and I knew that there was nothing about me that made me worth saving. I believed at that moment that God was good and I was completely unfit for anything but His wrath.
My dad had been doing more than asking if I was reading my Bible. He also was interacting with my son. And one thing my parents did was buy him Veggie Tales videos. And in the providence of God, as I sobbed about how my chances to turn to God had been exhausted, a song came from the next room. “Our God is the God of Second Chances.”
I realized at that moment that I hadn’t outsinned God’s forgiveness. Jesus had taken my sin and set me free. What had been dead inside of me was now finally alive! My sobbing stopped, an incredible excitement came over me and I knew that I was truly saved. I shared the exciting news with my family and, frankly, they thought I was crazy.
Life hasn’t been easy in the years that have followed. The price of following Jesus has been steep, but I have never been alone. If you would like to ask my mother about my dramatic turnaround, she’ll be glad to tell you. But God didn’t save me because He saw me behaving better. My behavior changed because God changed my heart. He opened my eyes. He revealed Himself to me and His beauty is irresistible.
Had He not done so, I never would have even seen my sin for what it was. I would have completed the project, told my dad to drop the matter and gone on with my life.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
Soli Deo Gloria.