A Classic Hymn…
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
If you grew up in church, you have most likely heard these lyrics many times. This song is a classic and one of the first songs that came to mind when I was starting to think about the topic I am writing about today.
We had a special speaker at The Church of Anderson this past Sunday. I started to use the term guest when describing our speaker, but he is in fact one of our own, Mark Patterson. Mark was asked by Pastor Jonathan to share his testimony on the back end of our most recent series Facing and Defeating Your Giant(s).
This series was truly one of a kind and a great way to kick-start 2017. Having Mark come and share his testimony was a great way of illustrating the truths that we have learned over the past several weeks. While I don’t intend to share the details of his testimony, I have to let you know that everyone should have left there encouraged and challenged. Mark has a fantastic story of how God brought him from his lowest points in life and how God is using Mark now to illustrate the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is your story…
God’s grace has been evident in Mark’s life. I believe that is true based off the testimony that he gave Sunday. And although his story is unique, it is true that God’s grace has been evident in each of our lives. Sometimes, we hear a testimony such as Mark’s, and we marvel at how much God has transformed an individual. What we sometimes fail to realize is that God has transformed all who have surrendered their lives, just as Mark.
The lyrics of Amazing Grace are true for Mark’s story. They are true for my story. And they are true for your story. The difference might be that Mark has taken the time to recollect and think through just how much God has done in his life. Have you taken time to sit down and articulate the story of how God has worked in your life?
I remember when Casey and I were in a church study program we were once assigned with the task of writing out our testimony. I found this task to be a bit challenging at first, but in the end, quite rewarding. As I contemplated all the life experiences up to that point, and all the individuals God had allowed me to cross paths with through the years, it was a blessing to see God’s hand evident in my personal life. I still have that document, although it is about ten years old now and needs to be updated.
I would challenge you to take some time, however long it takes you, to put your story on paper. You might be challenged, encouraged, or both after you have finished.
Why you need to share your story…
Everyone who heard Mark’s story had to leave the church encouraged and challenged. And rightly so. This leads to why I encourage you to not only write down your story, but share it: You never know who needs to hear your story.
You never know who will be encouraged by your story. You have no idea how many people God can reach through your testimony. But this is exactly what God intended us to do when Jesus challenged the disciples in Acts 1:8…
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”
~Acts 1:8 NIV (emphasis mine)~
God has called us to be His witnesses in the world. This might seem to be a daunting task, but think about the term witness and what it actually means in a judicial system.
A witness gives an account of what he/she has observed. A witness does not have to speculate about why an event happened, the motive of those involved, or other details of a situation. A witness is called on by an attorney to bear testimony of what he/she observed. Nothing more, nothing less.
When you think of sharing your story in this matter, it really does remove some of the stress you might feel in doing so. You job in being a witness is to share what you observed, what you felt, and your perspective of the event.
This is what the Bible teaches us, in John 4, where we see Jesus interact with the Samaritan woman. After this interaction, the woman went back to her town and shared her experience:
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
~John 4:29 NIV~
This is a simple statement, right? She didn’t give a 45 minute discourse on why she perceived Jesus to be the Messiah. She simply stated what she knew, what she experienced with Jesus, and then invited the others to come and see for themselves. By today’s standards of communication, you might not expect much from this simple question. But take a look at the results later in that chapter…
“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world”
~John 4:39-42 NIV~
Such a simple statement and question from one person was used by God to change the lives of many people that day. All because she was willing to share her testimony, short and sweet.
What can the Lord do with your story? Whose life can be impacted by hearing it?