I was fortunate early in my faith to be involved in a bible study that included developing a personal testimony. I actually enjoy writing, so this didn’t seem too difficult a task. Surprise! My first written testimony was a whopping 3 pages long. I felt every single detail of my story was so important that it just had to be included, and include it I did!
But honestly, who would want to read it? Who would want to hear it? People would be tuned out and turned off as a result. The focus was clearly on me, in both a prideful and then a woeful way. It was my story, yes, but it was more detail than a testimony to God’s grace, love and compassion. So, I rewrote it. The next testimony was not quite 2 pages and was much better; however, the task was clearly to develop a testimony that could be spoken or read in less than 3 minutes. I had more work to do. I eventually finished with my personal testimony and have used it many times since that study.
But here is the point. Testimonies are wonderful, and everyone likes a good story with an even better ending. But as much as people might like your story, is hearing it going to be effective in their walk- to help them both know and grow deeper in their relationship with Christ? This question seems to me to be more important than the content of my testimony. My story will fall on deaf ears if there is not something to be gained by the reader or hearer. So I’ve come to realize that, yes we should all develop that personal 3 minute version of how we came to Christ, but we must also have an arsenal of testimonies from the trials we have faced and the deliverances we have experienced so that we can relate to a multitude of people. Paul’s comments 1Corinthians 9:19-23 speak to this:
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
Paul was a man of many experiences and hardships. He had several titles, and “hats that he wore” so to speak. He did not pretend to be something that he wasn’t, but he certainly drew from every aspect of his life as he sought to win people to Christ.
We all wear many hats today. Many. Find those hats, label them, reflect on them, and then find your testimony in each and every one of them so that you will have something to offer that will make a difference in another person’s life. And remember, the point is always to glorify our Creator, to show how He pursues us and the beauty that can come from the ashes.