What’s your story? If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, odds are, at some point, you have had to give a testimony — give your life story — in front of somebody.
We are created to love story. The Bible is full of life stories. The most famous life story of the New Testament — outside of Jesus — is the account of Saul’s conversion in Acts 9.
Saul, a passionate Jewish rabbi, committed his life to persecuting a somewhat new group of people who believed that Jesus Christ was everything He said He was. One day, Saul was on his way to arrest more believers when he was struck blind during an encounter with Jesus. A day later, with some guidance from a God-appointed mentor, Ananias, Saul completely changed his ways. Within a few hours he went from a murderous non-believer, to a fervent disciple. Saul’s conversion experience — his testimony — was so drastic and intense it merited a name change from Saul to Paul.
The changed Paul would later write to his friends that, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). Paul’s rededicated his life to be a true example of those words.
I have had leaders in Young Life who have just as amazing conversion stories. Some have walked away from meth in one day; some have ended a bad relationship they had been stuck in for years; others removed themselves from hard-to-leave situations in a day and some completely turned from lives of darkness after becoming parents for the first time. I love those stories and God’s goodness is evident in those miracles of drastically changed lives.
At the same time, I have friends and leaders who have walked with Jesus since a young age. Their testimonies do not include a dramatic conversion. And, in some cases, they feel like their story is not as valuable because it isn’t very exciting to tell.
I wonder if Paul’s exciting conversion can sometimes be misleading for some. Do we need to have some definite transformation for it to matter? I have had leaders not want to share their story with kids because they do not think they have anything interesting to tell.
But my message to them, and anybody else reading who have a similar sentiment, is that there are multitudes of people who can connect with your story. So many people have not struggled with substance abuse or violence or destitution. Certainly they have felt like something was missing. Even New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady admitted in a 60 Minutes interview, that: “There must be something more out there. I mean I have everything, but I still feel like something is missing in my life.”
This is where a “non-exciting” testimony comes in play. Those stories show that God blesses consistency and wisdom and good choices.
What really matters in our conversion story, messy or “boring,” is that we wake up every day and realize that we indeed are a new creation. We need our own Ananiases to help us navigate through what is next in our story. We need the Holy Spirit to give us strength to abide in Jesus as he commands us in John 15. And just as important, we need to remember that our story, regardless of if it imitates Paul’s or not, is important to Jesus, or he would not have gone to the cross to redeem it.