God's Glory in Your Story | Understanding Your Testimony

Here’s a statistic: zero percent of people reading this are in the Bible. Its stories and events occurred long ago, in faraway places, to people we've never met. We weren’t aboard the ark as the rains fell; we didn’t see Elijah's altar consumed with fire, and we were notably absent from the last supper. Yet, these events culminate in a gospel reality that transcends space and time. Though we never felt the flood rains or the heat of the altar, the gospel still makes impact with our lives like a 30-ton logging truck running downhill.

"Impact" doesn't mean simply causing us to feel something, a Pixar film can do that, but when the gospel comes alive to us, the result is a permanent change. As Paul Washer says, “You cannot encounter a speeding logging truck and not be changed.” The intersection of biblical truth and your life is called your "testimony." To testify is to give an account or provide a witness. For example, if you witnessed someone robbing a bank, you could testify, or give an account of that event. You could tell the story of the bank robbery. In the same way, your testimony is the story of your life-altering encounter with the gospel!

God in Our Story
Like any good story, your testimony is worth telling. But to be told it must be understood.

You could say, “Jesus saved me,” and that would be true. But this simplification lacks the specificity that makes our stories unique. Jesus has saved many people, so what did your salvation look like? What makes your testimony yours? Like so many others, your life was headed in one direction, death, but at some point, or during a certain season, God turned it around and placed you on a fresh course—and that’s important.

Understanding our testimony involves reflecting on our life’s narrative. As God’s children, we can divide our lives into two stages; a time when we were God’s enemies, and our present condition as His children. If we consider all that has happened, we can see how our status transitioned from enemies to children. We can see how God has orchestrated our life’s events to lead us to Him. This is part of what Scriptures means when it says that God “draws” His people. By His grace and through His providence, God opens our eyes to His truth and calls us to His side. The people we’ve met, the events we experienced—the people we didnt meet, the events we didnt experience—all sovereignly ordained by God, contribute to who and where we are today.
In this way, our testimony provides us with a healthy perspective. Like characters in a story, our life has been a series of choices and events, some leading to danger, and others to safety. If we were in charge of our own lives, we'd always choose foolishly and we'd never find God. When we reflect on our path to God, it becomes clear that He was the one who paved it. And this is part of what makes our testimony so wonderful. Though our love for Him has often been failing or inexistent, God has loved and cared for us every step of the way, assuring our safe arrival into His arms.

Who’s the Star?
This leads me to an important point. Even though we call it “our” testimony, we can sometimes forget that it’s really about Jesus.

The most important story ever told is that of Jesus Christ, and as God’s creations made in his image, we exist for Him. This means the purpose of our story is to glorify God’s story. And though the details of your salvation are important, their importance only comes from how accurately they point back to the historic and unchanging reality of Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf. In other words, how does your salvation magnify the heroic, selfless love of Christ?

Our testimony is not the gospel and cannot be its substitute. Rather, it is a way of testifying to the gospel’s power and reality in your life. Our story, the here and now, is only possible because of what Jesus did in the past. And like we said, we weren’t around for that, yet our lives reveal we didn’t have to be. Your testimony is a tool that shows how God’s ancient, yet timeless truth is available and at work today.

Oh the Drama!
Lastly, we humans tend to gravitate towards drama. Drama is exciting—it’s interesting, which is why we cannot look away from a car accident. The contrast between the once peaceful intersection and the ensuing mayhem is strangely addicting. It is for similar reasons underdog and comeback stories attract us. Watching an otherwise miserable basketball team rally for the unlikely victory can move us to tears. What we should note is, this phenomenon is also present in the way we think about our testimonies.

When we hear people talk about how turbulent their lives were before Jesus, it’s not uncommon to be intimidated. “Wow, that guy spent 10 years in prison before turning to Jesus? What a testimony!” We’re always impressed when God turns lives of crime, radical unbelief, or otherwise serious waywardness into lives of faithful Christ-following. For some of you, this is your story and you have experienced God’s grace in hopeless circumstances first-hand. On the other hand, there are those of us who have lived contrastingly uneventful lives. Perhaps, like me, you were born into a family who loved the Lord and raised you to do the same. As a result, you always felt like a Christian even before you became one. And because your story seems “boring,” you might be tempted to believe it isn’t worth telling—but this is a lie. The miracle of salvation is no less manifest in your life than in those whose transformations appear more exciting. Though every testimony is unique, each of our stories share one thing in common: we all needed Jesus just as much. The thief, the murderer, the quiet but unrepentant churchgoer, and even your pastor, we all start in the same place, in desperate need of Christ.

Christian artist, “Da’ T.R.U.T.H.” raps:

I ain’t got no horror story,
God kept me in my youth I give him all the glory;
Thought my story wouldn’t float, but now I know,
The blood of the lamb has saved my soul, that’s my testimony.

What I want you to understand is that, if your journey involved a troubled upbringing, personal failure, and/or lengthy seasons of darkness—your testimony to God’s grace is glorious. But if you were born into a family who esteemed God’s Word, poured it over you, and experienced God's salvation at an early age, then I want you to know that your testimony is glorious too. Because the glory doesn’t arise from our specific situations or our lives, it comes from what Christ did on a cross 2000 years ago.

If your testimony points to the gospel, it is glorious.

The thing that makes our testimonies so interesting is that they’re relatable. Many people have lived similar lives to you and me, but with varying outcomes. When we commune with others, it’s helpful to feel like other people can understand our story and share in it with us. For this reason, the story of God’s work in your life can be a simple way to relay the gospel. But what we must always remember is that Jesus is the star of our testimony, not us. If we do this, our story will naturally work to reveal the greater story of Christ’s redemption for the world. Our testimony is important because the gospel is important, and our story is glorious because Christ is glorious. And though no two testimonies are the same, they all tell the same story, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

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