A Testimony of Grace
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to share my testimony with some friends. As I was thinking about what I could say, I realized that I wasn’t completely sure myself. How exactly did I get here? In the past when I’ve given my testimony, I’ve confidently spoken of specific events and relationships leading directly to specific realizations, which in turn led to greater knowledge of and commitment to Christ. Looking back now, however, I don’t think I can speak with such certainty. Sure, there are people and occasions that stand out in my mind as having special importance, but I can’t piece them together into what you might call a “standard” testimony. My testimony is less like a linear timeline and more like one of those crazy tree diagrams that no one can interpret or understand; with lines crossing and extending off in all directions; intertwined and tangled in such a way where it is hard to see where one branch begins and another ends.
What’s interesting (or uninteresting depending on your perspective) about my testimony is that the progression of my faith has occurred in such an ordinary way. I’ve never had a sudden moment of revelation like the Apostle Paul, where God altered the course of my life in an instant; nor did I come to faith by seeing God work in an extraordinary way like those who witnessed and experienced Jesus’ miracle’s in the New Testament . My testimony from all surface appearances hardly seems special.
How did I get here? I can only speak in generalities. Who I am now is the result of countless causes leading to countless different effects; it would be useless and impossible for me to even try to identify them all. All I know is that the majority of my growth has happened in the mundaneness of everyday life. I’ve been shaped by years upon years of sermons; some amazing, others good, and others forgettable. If you asked me for a sermon that changed my life, I would have a hard time naming one or telling you what it was about; and yet, I know every sermon and Sunday morning has been important in ways I will never be able to remember or explain. Each one has played a role in softening my heart so that slowly I might be able to see and understand the light of the glorious Gospel. Similarly, I’ve been influenced by countless different relationships: brothers who have exemplified the humble love of Christ, leaders who have faithfully taught me, and even those who have hurt and abandoned me. I could try and go on and on about every instance that has impacted me, but ultimately, all these things lead back to one undeniable cause: God. For who else could orchestrate ordinary people and ordinary events to change a heart that cherished sin into one that follows Christ? What other explanation is there for such an extraordinary effect?
If only I had a perfect memory, I would love to look back and see exactly how he did it; how he grew me through times of joy and pain and sorrow and times when I though nothing was going on at all. I want to look back at the moment where he first saved me and awakened the eyes of my heart in repentance and faith to the love of Christ. But alas, my memories are hazy and vague. Standing here as a redeemed child of God, all I can do is look with awe and admiration at the handiwork of God. What a mystery, what amazing grace! He has worked a miracle in my life and saved me. To him be the glory!
For a long time, I’ve disregarded my testimony as plain and boring, but the more I think about it the more I realize it is actually the opposite. The plain boring testimonies are the most interesting ones! After all, its relatively easy to explain why someone might love Jesus Christ if say, they felt the risen Jesus’ wounds like Thomas did, or if they got healed of leprosy. But why on earth do I love Jesus? All the odds are against me. Why am I following, when so many others just like me aren’t? Why do I believe when the temptations and distractions of the world are overwhelming? when I am the weakest of all and the foremost of sinners? I know not how or why, just that I have been saved by grace and that there’s nothing ordinary about that.
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:20-25)