April 2010

April Devotional 

I have a vanilla testimony.  I wasn’t awakened out of a stupor of drugs and alcohol, scooped from the clutches of abusive parents, or saved from illegal gambling when I came to know Christ.  Nothing nearly that exciting or dangerous.  I simply knew Him from the time I was a little girl and have grown over time to love and appreciate him more and more.  Psalm 71:5-6 says:


O Lord, you alone are my hope. I've trusted you, O LORD, from childhood.  Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother's womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!


It pretty much sums up the personal account of how I came to know Jesus.  Why do I mention this?  Because there’s a tendency, I think, to discount the importance of one’s testimony, especially when it’s a vanilla one like mine.  Especially when it lacks the “wow” factor, it’s easy to think it can’t have much value or impact in someone’s life.  But the truth is, your personal testimony – no matter how thrilling or boring it may seem to you – is a unique statement about Christ and his interaction in your life that only you can share with someone.


That’s why it’s vitally important to have your testimony at-the-ready when talking with someone about God.  And in order to do this, it’s good to actually prepare what you’re going to say and practice it until you feel comfortable saying it.  This will make your telling of it feel natural to everyone who hears it and even to your own ears. 


One of the simplest testimonies I have ever heard is that of Bill Hybels, the senior pastor of mega-church Willow Creek in the Chicago area. Bill was once asked the difference between being religious and being a Christian. He said that being religious is spelled “DO” but being a Christian is spelled “DONE”. Being religious is all about the things a person must DO in order to be good; whereas being a Christian is recognizing that Jesus has DONE it all on the cross already, and by accepting this free gift of his sacrifice, we can become followers of Christ.


There are several important elements in a good testimony.  The first is the hook, the opening statement that pulls someone in.  My “hook” is the vanilla testimony statement.  Then I tell a story of a time in my life which Jesus really showed up.  For me, it was when I was 19.  I was working full time, making money, dating – pretty much everything was going fine, except that I was miserable.  A friend asked about my personal relationship with Christ and how my quiet times were.  Having grown up in the Lutheran church, this was new language for me.  She then taught me about Lordship.  I knew Jesus as my Savior, but I really had never made him Lord or #1 in my life.  Doing so changed everything.  My entire perspective on life was altered, with Him in the driver’s seat.


The last part of the testimony is the “so what” section.  It’s the part that answers the question “so what” for someone else.  My “so what” is simply asking if the other person has ever made Jesus Lord in their own life.  I ask if they’ve ever thought about it and what difference it might make to them.  Usually this opens up the conversation more as to what is going on in their life and whether God plays a central role or not.


There aren’t strict rules on personal testimonies.  The main thing is just sharing what God has done in your life in a real, authentic way and letting the Holy Spirit do his work in the listener’s heart.  You might be a little nervous at the beginning, but the more you share your testimony, the easier it will get.  So stretch yourself this month, and tell someone your personal testimony.  And watch how God uses it in the life of someone else.  You’ll be surprised at the impact it can have.  Even if it’s just plain vanilla.