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Author Topic: A Story Worth Telling  (Read 1807 times)
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« on: February 27, 2006, 04:34:22 PM »

Your testimony may not be as dramatic as the former drug dealer sitting in the front pew, but you still have something to say.

I was never comfortable giving my Christian testimony as a young man. I thought I wasn't eligible. As I saw it, only two kinds of people were qualified testimony-givers: (1) famous overachievers; and (2) terrible sinners.

The overachievers tended to be athletes who'd caught the winning touchdown pass in the last 10 seconds of the game. They testified how they couldn't have done it without God. My greatest athletic achievement was getting through an entire day without hurting myself. I have the hand-eye coordination of a carp--a fish with lips.

The sinners were those new believers who'd been saved from lives of debauchery. I lacked the right stuff there too. My first memory is that of playing the part of Joseph in a Christmas pageant.

Whenever the church doors opened, I was in the building: Sunday morning worship, Sunday night fellowship, Tuesday night Bible study, Wednesday night youth group, special prayer meetings, and the obligatory Christmas pageant Joseph practice--I was there for all of it.

What testimony could I possibly give? I didn't smoke. The fire of alcohol had never touched my lips, and (much to my chagrin) no on else's lips had ever touched my lips. I listened to the horrible sins and huge successes of the testimony-givers, and wished I, too, could have a real, prime-time testimony.

I had two options: I had to start some serious sinning, or I'd have to make something up. I dreamed of standing before an awestruck audience, my voice trembling with emotion: "I killed 25 people with a wet squirrel," I'd confess, warming them up for the really good stuff. "I was into drugs. I shot peanut butter directly into my veins. It was crunchy peanut butter--it drove me nuts."

After a pause for effect, I'd continue, "I had a quart of liquor every day and a different woman every night." I could picture the older people, heads shaking and tongues clucking in disapproval. I could see the youth leaning forward in their seats, waiting for details. It was time to deliver the punch. "Then, I accepted the Lord; and I've lived happily ever after ever since."

That story would surely be more powerful than the truth, which would go like this:

"Folks, my life of sin began the night I stole a cookie as my parents slept. I cheated on a test, and once I looked at a picture of a naked woman in National Geographic Magazine. [Until I was 14, I thought all naked people had bones in their noses.] Then I met Jesus. Today, I'm still tempted, and I still face many trials in my life."

What kind of testimony is that? Who'd be encouraged to follow Jesus by hearing such a proclamation?

Maybe people who are honest would want to hear that testimony. Maybe there are people looking for a God who forgives and who continues to work in the midst of their imperfections. Maybe people like that would listen to testimonies from people like me.

Yes, God has miraculously intervened in the lives of flamboyant sinners. I'm not belittling those miracles. But even in those testimonies, I believe a strong dose of reality is essential.

Those dramatically saved from their wickedness face daily struggles too. Even when big-league sin is left behind, the garden-variety sin is there to be faced.

Besides, we should recognize that God doesn't categorize sin. The miracle of a nice little church boy experiencing forgiveness means as much to God as the conversion of the drug pusher down the street.

And I should also recognize that I wasn't always the nice little church boy. As my Christian pilgrimage unfolded, I managed to get some "legitimate" sins under my belt. By the time I reached 40, I had rug burns from backsliding.

Those dark times taught me a valuable lesson. I've listened to hundreds of people tell how they were lost in sin and sadness, then accepted Jesus Christ--and since then, life has been heaven on earth. All their problems have gone away. I've learned that when struggling Christians hear these words, a sense of hopeless failure settles over their lives like a wet blanket.

Christianity never promises an escape from trials and temptations. Rather, it's a place to find the courage to withstand them. None of the disciples embellished their testimonies with touchdowns.

These were average guys who repeatedly failed to live up to the standard Jesus set before them. But they found forgiveness and strength in the face of every trial. And they were willing to die for what they believed. I think they'd have trouble listening to testimonies that say, "Once I found Jesus, my troubles were gone."

Even the godly and upright apostle Paul admitted he was on a journey. His life ambition wasn't to tell people what he'd done in the name of God--it was to shout to the world what God had done for him. His greatest testimony wasn't the absence of struggle, but his enduring faith in the midst of it.


Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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