Sandy walked toward me following the Sunday morning service. “I’m coordinating the women’s Spring Tea this year,” she said. “I know that you are a professional speaker, and I was wondering if you would be willing to share your testimony as part of our program?” It was a question I had dreaded for many years. In that moment, I would have loved to be able to snap my fingers or blink my eyes and find myself on the other side of the sanctuary. Or the other side of the planet.
I’m not afraid to speak; it’s what I have done for more than 25 years. That’s not the issue. My dilemma is much more complicated: I’m not a recovering addict, was never caught up in a cult, my husband never cheated on me, nor has he ever abused me in any way. I never lost a child to an incurable disease or a tragic accident, and I have not been healed in the face of a death sentence diagnosis. I have no testimony.
Or do I?
I am always moved by the stories of God’s faithfulness when I hear the account of someone whose life was changed under incredibly dramatic, and often overwhelming circumstances. I am awed at the power of our God to rescue, restore, and recover what seemed hopelessly lost. Times when lives teetered at the very edge, and God swooped in and saved the day. Those amazing stories leave a mark on our hearts, and make an impression that pulls us toward a Savior we so desperately need in our world. These stories are the stuff of Christian conferences, best selling books and altar call success.
I often have felt apologetic, even embarrassed, that I have no such dramatic story.
But God. Because He wrote my story, the Lord began to reveal to me that my testimony is no less than those that capture our hearts and compel us toward decision. He showed me that my story is the one He desired for me. No less, no greater than the others. Just different.
This is my story: I made a decision to follow Christ at age 17, the night before my high school graduation. At 19, I married the incredible young man who introduced me to Jesus. We have three amazing sons, all serving God, with wonderful Spirit-led wives. We have been blessed for nearly 37 years with a happy loving marriage. Life has not always been perfect, but it’s always been good, and it’s always been centered on Him. Not very dramatic is it?
Don’t misunderstand. I have lost loved ones without warning or way too early. I’ve lost jobs, suffered financial setbacks, had kids who seemed intent on driving me nuts with antics I didn’t understand, and we had a son serve overseas with people shooting at him. All big stuff. We got through it, with lots of prayer and trust in the greatness of our God.
The drama of those situations is what I missed, and that is the testimony. Not that we didn’t deal with some situations that could have caused us to go into a tailspin. But a life hidden in Christ is blessed beyond understanding, covered and protected, and preserved to tell the story of the One who is responsible for what some may consider great good luck. It’s not luck.
So here it is (drumroll please): I don’t get the credit for what others have been drawn to ask me about. He does. THAT’S my testimony.
My brother once told me that he thought I was a really good person and that he didn’t understand what I needed “saving” from. What did He rescue me from? Plenty.
To God, sin is sin. Black and white, no shades of gray. And that’s true whether the sin is addiction, abuse or adultery or it’s the garden variety of anger, envy or unforgiveness. Few of us rush to stand in the pulpit at the women’s spring tea and admit that we have hated our mother-in-law, envied a co-worker’s promotion, or refused to forgive a friend or family member who attempted to make things right. Sin is what separates us from God.
God rescued me from a life of sin, just like the former addict. He saved me from sadness and loneliness, like the abused wife. And He has protected my marriage from adultery and abuse. He has been faithful to His Word at every step of my life. His Spirit has warned me, rebuked me, instructed me, comforted me and redirected me. He has gathered me in His lap and dried my tears.
My sister-in-law said recently that for her, those of us who never chose to live in obvious sinful lifestyles and never pulled away from God had a greater testimony. I disagree. It’s not greater, it’s just different.
God made each of us to be unique – we are by design, individuals. He formed and created us, as He desired with a specific plan and purpose in mind. But we are encouraged to conform—to Him. Ephesians 5:1 (NIV): “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” It’s a lifelong commitment with lots of obstacles in the path, but it’s the pursuit He longs to see us take up.
He instructs us to pattern our lives specifically, in our own individuality, to the image of Christ. The journey is different for each of us. But each on our own road trip, moving toward that image, is designed to demonstrate to a diverse world that Jesus is alive. We need to stop trying to fit in. We were made to stand out.
There is a wonderful song by singer/songwriter Cody Barnes that says: “I am all He says I am—and He says I am His own.”
This is my story.
Originally appeared on Destiny in Bloom, an online magazine.