Christian Courage Through Testimony
“They triumphed over him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony...” Revelation 12:11a, NIV
What is your testimony, or your story of what God has done in your life? What do you want your testimony or your legacy to be? After your gone, what do you want others to say of you?
I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot and wanted to share my God-story, or my testimony, below:
Throughout my younger years, I grew up in Southern Baptist churches, which meant I had heard about Jesus for a while before I even knew what salvation was, but when I was eight years old, my family attended a Billy Graham crusade. To me, in my eight-year-old mind, the purpose of the event was to hear the band, Audio Adrenaline, and to go to a new fun city. The message Graham gave centered on the basics of the gospel (God’s love for humans, humanity’s choice to sin, Christ’s gift of redemption from sin, and the offer of a restored relationship with God through Christ)... and you better believe I was the first one in my row to jump up and go down with my mom to talk with the volunteers designated to speak to those who wanted to start a relationship with Christ. This simple, but true gospel message of a Savior who came, lived a perfect life, and died a sacrificial death on my behalf is one that has continued to shape the trajectory of my life – even now, 20 years later.
Later, when I was in middle school, I came to understand the deeper implications of what it meant to have a personal relationship with the Lord. When I was in 7th grade, I attended an event called Dare2Share with my youth group. The purpose was to learn how to share the gospel message of Christ with others. The gospel was clearly presented multiple times to us and we were encouraged to go share with others the good news of what Jesus had done. We did this throughout the community via food bank collection. I gladly participated because I knew the message well and believed it. But every time they presented the gospel, I wondered if I really understood on a personal level who this Jesus was. I wondered if I really knew Him as they spoke of Him – that He was not just some far off Savior who “got me out of Hell,” but that He was indeed an intimate Lord. During that time, I re-committed my whole life to following Christ – I wanted to obey Him, whatever the cost. This was a big step on my continued journey of what it means to truly be a disciple of Christ.
The second event that was significant in my faith journey occurred when my family began to attend a new church when I was in the 8th grade. In this church’s youth group, we watched the “Way of the Master” evangelism series with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. Up until this point, I had not thought of Jesus as my Master as they had described, but only as my Savior who rescued me from Hell and as my Lord whom, I should obey. It was through this series, though, that I came to an even deeper place of surrender and began to have a more vibrant relationship with Christ. I began to see that relationship with Him would bring life to my true self, and death to my old self; and that true life with Christ started now and lasted forever into eternity. The way that I have chosen to live after this experience is a way of intentionality. By seeing my life as an offering poured out to my Master Jesus I get to walk with Him and journey with Him. Yes, I owe my life back to Him as His slave, but I am also a sister in the Body who gets to do life with my older Brother, Jesus.
Through service and church involvement in high school, I continued to see deeper and deeper seasons necessary for surrender. One time, in particular, was when a player on my high school football team died suddenly due to heat exhaustion. I was asked with another student to go and pray for his healing at the hospital, but unfortunately, this was not what God saw fit to do with Max’s life. This situation later became a nationwide spectacle because his parents sued the school, and I saw the testimony of the coach who was a believer on display through a lot of suffering. Also, this was during the first time that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer – which was a trial for our family in itself, but we saw God’s healing hand and were able to minister to others in the process. Through leading prayer groups and Bible studies, I saw God continually show up and use not my perfection, but my willingness to serve my Savior and King.
Later I attended Cedarville University, a Christ-centered university, for both my undergrad and graduate degrees. And it was here that I learned so much more about the Lord Jesus who rescued me out of my sin. As a result, I was given a desire to see more and more people come to know Him in a deeply personal way. I want others to know that it is not simply about “praying a prayer and not going to Hell,” but that the gospel is about an ongoing relationship with the God Who created us and Who wants us to walk with Him. To me, this is yielding to Christ’s Lordship – an understanding that your whole life surrendered to Him. One illustration our university president, Dr. Bill Brown, gave in chapel one day that still impacts my life and ministry to this day is this: He said that "Everyone is on a metaphorical ladder of closeness to God. At the bottom, you have people who hate the things of God and don’t want anything to do with Him; and at the top, you have people who are in glory with Christ in Heaven. And, as a Christ-follower, your job in every encounter you have with people is to move them up one more rung – one more step closer to God. You don’t have to ‘seal the deal’, you just have to be faithful to what God tells you to speak to that person at that time."
Most recently, in 2019-2020, I have seen God walk with me through yet other seasons that were complicated emotionally and still be my King who keeps me. Whether it be moving across states without much direction (or a job), both of my last living grandparents dying, walking with my brother during a messy divorce, a global pandemic, or my mom’s most recent second cancer diagnosis – it’s been a season of hard. But it’s also been a season of sweet as well as I’ve gained a lot as well – including an awesome community group that practically loves well, a church that preaches Jesus with gusto, a work-family at GraceWorks Ministries that daily shows me the gospel, and a lot of healing. As I’ve had conversations with my counselor about these things, I continue to learn that God is a good kind Master, even in trials, and that because of that I can lean into the hard with courage. Because it is His unchanging character to BE good, I get to experience Him and share my story with others about who He is. I want others to know that no matter what comes, He is to be trusted and praised.
You see, throughout my life, God has chosen to use mentors, conferences, classes, prayer, Bible studies, conversations with friends and family, counseling, and many other things to help me realize that I don’t have to save anyone – not even myself. I simply must be faithful in my pursuit of knowing Him and making Him known. This is why I try to take every encounter I have with people seriously so that I can leverage it for “the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12). I want to continue pressing into understanding Christ as my Savior, my Lord, and my Master. Then, and only then can I, serve Him, yield to Him, and lean into trials with Him. I continue to struggle against sin and am nowhere near perfect, but I know that with God's help, He will continue to redeem me, as He also redeems others through my influence.
This is what I want my legacy to be – what I want others to say about me after I’m gone: That I lived as unto the praise of His glory!
What about you?