As Christians we must all have our stories ready. You know, just a few words, thoughts, experiences, perhaps ideas, that we have ready, moulded into a story, or testimony should you prefer that word, so that we are ready to share how the grace of God has made a difference in our lives. We may have different stories, one for sharing with our Christian brothers and sisters, and our families, and another for sharing with someone outside of the family of God, someone who He brings into our lives “for just a time as this”. I have several stories in the back of my mind. One describes how I came to have a personal relationship with God in the first place. How I laughably tried to work out how I could be saved by myself before I came to the point where I had to ask God to reveal Himself to me. And graciously that is what He did. But that was over 40 years ago. I have another story of how God healed my daughter, Tricia. She ended up in hospital with a rare form of encephalitis, but in spite of the medics telling us it wouldn’t end well, with a prognosis of death or severe brain damage, God miraculously healed her. And she went on to get married, give us two wonderful grandchildren, go to university as a mature student, gaining an honours degree, and is still with us today, a walking miracle. But that was over 30 years ago. And I have yet another story of how God kept me, my two grandchildren, and two foster children, safe in a small boat, as we made a hazardous sea crossing, in a storm that blew up very quickly. But that was 15 years ago.
Old stories about how wonderful God is are great. Nothing wrong with them. In fact, it is always worth going over these old stories in our minds because they will build up our faith when the Christian journey is hard and heavy going. But it is much better if we also have new and fresh stories. About what God is doing, or has been doing, in our lives this week, yesterday, even today. Over the past few days God has been revealing some stuff to me from the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus in John 3. And some of this revelation I’m weaving into another story. And in my morning prayer walks I keep my spiritual eyes and ears open for something from God. Something that will be the basis for another story. Of course, there will be days when all seems black and the heavens made of brass, but that is when our old stories will help us get through the fog. And the stories shared with us by a Christian brother or sister may just turn out to be a word in season.
I love the story of the demon-possessed man in Mark 5. Remember the one, where Jesus cast out from him a legion of demons and sent them into a herd of pigs, which promptly ran over a cliff into the sea and drowned? Well, the locals couldn’t cope with Jesus, so they asked Him to leave them. But the now-healed man, clothed and in his right mind, begged Jesus to take him with Him. And we pick up the story in verse 19. “But Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ So, the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” What a story he had to tell! And if you’re feeling sorry for the Jewish owners of the herd, they shouldn’t have been keeping pigs anyway.
But in all this, our biggest and best story or testimony is the way we live our lives. Someone once said, “If you were brought to court charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you.” Ouch! The way we live our lives will impact the friends and neighbours around us. Do they see us as people always moaning, full of negative opinions about anything topical? For example, how are we reacting to the Covid restrictions? Are we full of doom and gloom and anti-government rhetoric? Or are we using this time to show our community that there is a totally different perspective once God is present in the conversation.
Here’s a couple of quotes about our stories, our testimonies.
“What God is bringing you through at this very moment will be the testimony that will bring someone else through. No mess, no message.”
And one from Billy Graham, “The unbelieving world should see our testimony lived out daily because it just may point them to the Saviour.”
Happy story telling!