Over the course of this series, we’ve discussed “What it Really Means” to give a testimony, taken a look at some Biblical models for both “One Liners” and “Deeper Dialogues”, addressed the fears which we face as we are “Getting the Ball Rolling”, and discussed the technique behind the preparation of a formal “Conversion Story”. This week, we’ll be concluding with a look into three other types of prepared testimony and the role that they play in helping us to share the Gospel message!
If you’re anything like me, your conversion story is pretty dull. I was saved at the grand age of six and there wasn’t some miraculous (by human standards) moment when God pulled me from darkness into light. It was a regular Sunday morning service at a local Baptist church and I remember my father holding my hand as I walked down the aisle to the strains of “Just as I Am” and standing with me as I informed the giant teddy-bear of a pastor that, “I want to become a Christian.” No chorus of angels, no blinding light, no life of reckless abandon to the desires of the flesh. Just a simple profession of faith.
Unless you were converted on your death bed (in which case, you won’t be reading this article), your “God Story” didn’t end on the day you committed your life to Christ. In fact, it was very probably just beginning… and that’s where the following three types of testimony come in to play.
How He changed your life. Unlike the conversion story, the tale of how Christ changed your life applies to both those who accepted Christ after a lifetime of “other things” and those who were privileged to meet Him in their childhood. (I use the word “privileged” intentionally. Both of my parents came to Christ in adulthood and I have spent a lifetime watching them struggle with issues which, for me, have only been theoretical. By God’s Grace I was spared the frustration of years wasted walking in another path. I never cease to be grateful for this – and if you were saved at a young age, you shouldn’t either!)
While the conversion story places the emphasis on the events that led us to surrender to God, the story of how that encounter changed your life focuses on all that has happened since that event. It centers upon the many ways in which God works (and is working) to make us more like Him and upon His faithful provision for us, even in the worst of circumstances. This type of testimony doesn’t focus on the Salvation message, so don’t feel like you need to find some way to weave that in. If it fits naturally, fine, but if it doesn’t… well, that’s O.K. too. Use this testimony to tell those “big picture” stories that reflect God’s omniscience (His “all-knowingness”) and His omnipresence (He is everywhere at all times).
How He helps you today. Unlike a conversion testimony or a “big picture” story about God’s involvement in our lives, this type of testimony takes a “little picture” view of events. It focuses on the present – often emphasizing circumstances which are yet to be resolved. Such testimonies are important, since many times the person we’re sharing with can actually watch the events as they unfold and verify the truth in our statements. This might be a testimony to the peace that God is giving you as your wife battles cancer, the guidance God is giving as you seek a new job, or how He’s giving you wisdom in a difficult situation at school. With it comes an added bonus: in order to demonstrate God’s working, you also have to look for God’s working and, the more you see Him laboring in your life, the more pleasant that life will become!
Something exciting that God has done. Somewhere between a “big picture” testimony and a “little picture” account, this is the frosting on the cake. These are the accounts of blessings that God has given: the promotion, the pay raise, the unexpected opportunity. This is your chance to tell about how God provided the funds to pay that excessively high medical bill, gave you that job you wanted but didn’t expect to get, or placed the right replacement vehicle for your gas-guzzling ’72 Lincoln Mark IV in your path at just the right time. (I’ve been telling that last story for 13 years now – and given the condition of the aforementioned “replacement vehicle”, may be telling it for 13 more!) Share the story of how, against all odds, you got picked for the school football team or how God provided someone from the church to fix the hole in your roof! While there will always be someone who views such events as the natural consequences of natural actions, the luck of the draw, or the intervention of that faceless god “fate”, as we take the time to acknowledge that every good thing we have comes from Christ, others will begin to see the difference!
Most testimonies are not limited to just one of these categories and some of the best ones I’ve ever heard utilize elements from each. Take some time to write down the key elements of your own “God Story”, then see how the Spirit leads. You may find yourself recognizing the hand of God in some extraordinary places!
Some final advice? Be honest. Remember that a testimony should always point others to Christ. Never forget to tell how God worked out your circumstance and, if He hasn’t yet, make certain that the story you’re telling ends with the expectation that He will. Christianity is about the Hope Jesus gives and your “God Story” should reflect that!