The other week I was speaking at a methodist church in a nearby village. They had asked me to do one thing that chills me to the bone: they asked me to give part of my testimony. Now I am one of those people who thinks their conversion testimony is a bit rubbish, or at the very least boring. The trouble is whenever anyone claims their testimony is boring some bright spark chirps up ‘Nobodies testimony is boring.’. Undoubtably true, incredibly unhelpful.
My testimony starts like this ‘I was born into a Christian family…’ You can probably finish the testimony yourself from there on and be somewhat accurate. So feeling like this I was obviously struggling with what I was going to share when a couple of things struck me. The first and most obvious is that my testimony includes more than my conversion, in fact my actually becoming a Christian is a relatively small part of my overall story.
The second thing I realised is linked to the blog I wrote a few weeks ago about the Bible being a story, and not just any story but our story. That means that my testimony grounds the stories of the Bible in our lives. Our lives continue the story of God’s interaction with mankind, and when we see the Bible as our story we find wisdom from deeply flawed but honest people as they struggle to ‘work out their salvation’. Since seeing the Bible as part of my story I have found myself more excited to read it and finding more advice and wisdom than ever. Who couldn’t relate with Paul as he says this:
Romans 7:15-25 ‘What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.’
PS if you want to hear my talk and testimony click here.