"Delight yourself in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart."
I always wanted a testimony.
When I was a little girl, sitting in church, Sunday after Sunday, I wanted a testimony. I wanted to be able to tell people what Jesus had done for me.
A recovering alcoholic would stand in the pulpit, and tell about meeting Jesus. He would testify that after having met Jesus, he never took another drink.
I’d hear a visiting missionary, home on furlough, tell about how God had protected her from horribly-dangerous situations and how He had miraculously provided much needed supplies at just the right moment.
The drama in their stories was amazing.
I hung on every word.
It seemed to me that if I wanted a testimony, I needed to be addicted to something, or to be a missionary in Africa. I didn’t understand what it meant to be addicted, and I knew that I did not want to go to Africa.
Yet... I still wanted a testimony.
When I became a teenager, I heard testimonies from other teenagers that had never been to church. They had never owned a Bible. They didn’t know about the Garden, or the Ark, or about Joseph’s coat of many colors. They didn’t know about Daniel and the lions, or about Paul on the road to Damascus. They had never heard about Jesus. But once they heard His story, how He came to die for them and how much He loved them, their lives changed. They studied the Bible. They told their family members and their friends about Jesus. They quit hanging out with the wrong crowd. They quit cussing. They cleaned themselves up. They became new people.
I was fascinated by what I saw in their lives.
It was amazing. I believed every word of their testimony. They were really changed people.
They had what I wanted.
But, their testimonies weren’t my testimony.
I had always known who Jesus is. I knew Bible stories. I grew up in church. It was my second home. Just about everybody I knew went to church. Besides, I hadn’t been that bad. I had tried to follow most of the rules.
I was a good girl.
I had been baptized.
When I was a teenager, I read books where people shared their testimonies. I remember reading one book called Walking Through the Fire, about a young woman named Laurel. Laurel had cancer. She told how God had strengthened her during her illness. How He had given her comfort and hope. How He had cured her.
Wow! Did she have a testimony!
But it wasn’t mine.
And I didn’t want it to be.
I was healthy and I wanted to stay that way.
As, I became a young adult, I met some young people that had been brought up in the church. They were like me, you know, rule followers. They had been baptized, too. As much as they were like me, they were different. These people loved Jesus. They talked about Him all the time, like He was their best friend. They loved to study the Bible. Everything they did revolved around Him.They were the happiest people I had ever met. They were always ready to give a testimony about Jesus and what He had done for them.
So, wanting a testimony like theirs, I decided to do whatever they were doing. I joined Bible studies. I bought praise albums and learned the lyrics. I tried talking about Jesus like He was my best friend.
And even though copying them didn’t give me a testimony, they did give me something. They gave me hope. Hope that I could have what they had. A real testimony about Jesus.
So I went to work to get one.
Over the next 20 years, I worked real hard to find something to testify about.
I taught Sunday School, led the children’s choir, and sang in the adult choir. I taught children about missions and worked in Vacation Bible School. Most of my friends were Christians and life once again revolved around church. I even participated in Bible studies and went on retreats.
I did more than my part in keeping the Christian publishing business healthy and strong, by buying every new how-to book they put on the market.
I was determined to get a testimony.
Well, I got something alright. But it wasn’t a testimony.
I got heartache, shame, and guilt.
For all my hard work, I received tons of disappointment. Disappointment in myself, in other Christians and sadly, disappointment in God.
So much disappointment, that I gave up on ever having a testimony.
I gave up on myself and the God that I had wanted to testify about.
But now I have a testimony.
I have many.
Every post I've written over the last two years has been a testimony of God’s Faithfulness, of His Goodness, and of His Love for me.
Having a testimony is the gift that is at the top of my Gratitude List this week.
Today I can testify as to who God is and to His character.
I can tell you about His goodness, His strength, His comfort.
I can tell you how He picks me up when I fall and how He holds me when I hurt.
I can tell you how He teaches me through His word, and how He speaks to me in the quietness of my heart.
I can tell you about answered prayers over and over again.
I can tell you about the miracles I’ve seen.
I can testify to you about His Son, Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
I can testify of a God that is turning my mourning into dancing.
I can tell you of a God that gives me joy in spite of . . .
I can testify all day long.
You see, I didn’t have a testimony all those years because I didn’t really know God.
The things I was doing were good things. But they were works that were meant to come out of my testimony. Not to get me one.
I knew about Jesus. But I didn’t know Him.
I can testify about my parents and the things they have done for me, because I know them. I could testify about the way Jim takes care of Ethan, because I know Jim. I could testify about my sister’s love for me, or my cousin Mary Jo’s generosity towards me, because I know them. I could testify as to the kind of Bible teacher my pastor is, because I know him. I can testify about the hearts of my boys, because I know them.
It's all in the knowing.
Knowing God is having a testimony.
You can’t have a testimony without knowing Him.
And you can't know Him and not have a testimony.
How do you come to know Him the way that I’ve come to know Him?
How can you have a testimony?
Ask Him for one.
Tell God you want to know Him.
I asked Him when I had nothing else. When everything was gone. When I was desperate and completely powerless.
I went to Him when I had nowhere else to go.
I asked Him, like the prodigal son, when I came back home. I didn’t have pig stains on me like the prodigal son, but I had every other kind of stain sin can cause.
From the first moment I cried out to Him, December 7, 2003, on the way to my dying child, I had a testimony.
He was there.
It’s odd now when I think back on all those times, when I wished for a testimony. When I thought I didn’t have one. All those times are now part of my testimony. I know now that God was working everything out for my good.
He was working things out so He could give me the desire of my heart. . . a testimony.
So He could give me what I really wanted . . . Him.
Don’t be afraid.
You don’t have to experience tragedy or loss to have a testimony.
You don’t have to have an addiction, or go to Africa to have one either!
Just ask Him.
Just ask to know Him and you will have your own testimony . . .
and so much more!
My Gratitude List
81. My testimony
82. That I can know God
83. A country where I am free to worship
84. And, not have to hide my Bible
85. Somebody to pick me up when I'm down
86. The grace to pick myself up when I'm down
87. My parent's friends that help them out when I can't
88. Clean, cold water
89. That people don't always mean what they say
90. Memories from past 4th of July holidays
91. That it's okay to laugh and cry at the same time
92. That God doesn't misunderstand me
93. That He is the defender of the weak
94. That He comforts those in need
95. That He lifts me up on wings like eagles
96. Fireworks over the bayou
97. Laughing when nothing is funny
98. That God protects me from myself
99. Seeing another parent's prayers answered in the life of their son
100. That God gives to the just and the unjust
101. Not having to be cynical
102. A day with no oil on the beaches
103. A little girl sitting on top of her daddy's shoulders during church, clapping her hands in worship
104. Grace for a quiet mouth
105. That He holds it all together and that I don't have to