Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Testimony Tuesday

Jules at Everyday Mommy linked to this post encouraging all Christian bloggers to share their testimonies on their blogs. It hit me that this was a fabulous opportunity to share what I have been working through over the past year.

For years, I have been reluctant to share my testimony because I didn't feel I had a good one. I have heard all these really dramatic stories of people coming to faith out of some pretty awful circumstances. At church conference a few years ago, I went to a women's lunch and the speaker shared her testimony, the journey from lesbian college proffessor, whose area of study was women's literature, and queer writing, living with her partner in a very settled lifestyle, to Christian, pastor's wife, mother.

In the face of that I got to thinking about my testimony. Instead of intimidating me, as I expected it got me thinking about what my testimony might be. According to Miriam Webster online dictionary, a testimony is "a public profession of religious experience" So, with that in mind, I decided that everyone's testimony is worth listening to, because the are the public profession of what God has done in my life.

I was born in a Christian home, with a rich heritage of faith. I read in our family reunion book about my great great grandfather who settled in Kansas in the mid 19th century. "He was a devoted member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in early childhood. He was always in his place at church. He was noted for his integrity, honesty, and uprightness...much cash was entrusted to him." This was taken from his obituary. While faithful church membership isn't necessarily a sign of faith, the fruit of his faith is played out in the children, and grandchildren.

I don't remember a time when I didn't know that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that I must commit myself to Him. I am still working through my ideas here, but I think that Christianity was presented not as something I should chose but as something that is just my life. I use a silly analogy, my parents never said, "If you go to college...", they always said, "When you go to college...". Even as a little girl I knew I would be going to college. I don't think I realized that I had an option, so by the time I did realize it, I didn't need to decide, I was going to college. I don't want anyone to think that my faith is as unthinking as my college attendance. It isn't. At some point, in middle school, it became more that what my parents passed on to me and it is wholy mine. I don't have a lightbulb moment which I can point to and say, "that is when I became a Christian". I remember one traumatic scene with my parents, when I threw myself on my bed, crying and wailing at the unfairness of life. I remember thinking no one loves me, but God niggled me, He loves me. I started to feel convicted about my earlier childish behavior, and wept my remorse, asking for His forgiveness, and "recommitting to Him". For me to recomitte to God, I believed that I had committed to Him previously. That happened before we moved to Topeka, so I had to be around 10 to 12.

I have always felt that my testimony isn't interesting enough to share. It is not a spectacular tale of radically changed heart. I believe now, that every testimony has merit, and that God works in each person. The blessing that I received from a godly heritage is as wonderful as the blessing a reformed crack abuser reaps. By the grace of God, I was spared that hellish existance. Exodus 20:4 says that God punishes to the 3rd and fourth generation of those who hate him, and shows love to a thousand generation who love Him and keep his commandments.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments."

I have never subscribed to the theory that every bad thing can be traced to a specific sin. However, bad things are a result of sin. Sometimes they are consequences. King David sinned with Bathsheba. In youth group we tallied up that of the 10 commandments, we could make a case for most of them being broken. God forgave David, even calling him, "a man after God's own heart"; yet David still faced consequences for his sin. The baby born of the adulterous affair died, and David's family was very dysfunctional. Sin has consequences that forgiveness may not wipe out.

Because of the heritage of faithfulness in my family, I was spared exposure to lifestyles that lead to painful consequences. God can use any testimony for His glory, even my undramatic one. So a testimony is the story of how God has worked and is working in your life. We should all be able to point to real ways in which God has worked and is working. For me, right now this post is an example; I want to share my faith, in a way that I wouldn't have felt comfortable about a couple years ago. I would have felt that I didn't have anything worth contributing, but as He has shown me, just because the work was less tangible, doesn't make it less real or less important. I didn't see Him working in my great grandfather's life, since he died before I was born. I can feel the effects, though in the options open to me and the choices I didn't have to face.


Rosesandtea said...

Thanks for sharing your testimony today. I don't have an "exciting" one either, but isn't it wonderful that we have one! We have a gracious God. :)

Ellen B. said...

Thanks for sharing, Shel. You are right it right for all of us to testify to the goodness that God bestows on us. It's all because of Him that we are where we are. Praise God for faithful parents and grandparents!

Nikki said...

I think your testimony is an amazing one! There's nothing better than to say that you never knew a day outside of God's unfailing grasp.