I remember attending several Christian events as a teen. There was always vibrant worship, excellent speakers, calls to action and the sharing of personal testimonies. I remember sitting and listening with rapt attention to the personal testimonies that were shared. Stories of people who went from party-goer to all out Christ-follower. Stories of people who went from drug addicts to totally sober and clean. Stories of people who were wretchedly sick and God miraculously healed them. Even the story of the Apostle Paul, whose radical testimony declares him transformed from the biggest persecutor of Christians to one of the leaders of the very Church he once persecuted. It seemed like everywhere I looked, I heard radical stories of change and transformation that left me breathless and in awe of the powerful saving grace of Jesus Christ. And, if I’m being honest...these stories also always left me a little deflated. That’s amazing! That’s wonderful! That awe-inspiring! And then...there is me, and my story.
I was saved at the age of 4. I don’t even remember my “conversion experience,” but my Mom told me that I prayed with her. I grew up in a Christian home (as a missionary kid, no less). I had a rough patch in junior high where I was mean to other girls and too interested in other boys (you know, from a distance). Then, throughout high school, I always received awards like “Christian character” or “leader in service.” I then attended a Christian college, where I was involved in Bible Study leadership and any service opportunity I could get my hands on. At this Christian college, I met my Christian husband and we got married at the young age of 21. Obviously, we were virgins at our wedding. Our vows were Christian and our wedding was, too. Basically, I have always been the “perfect” Christian. With a really, really boring testimony.
Or, so I thought. Until I come across a passage in Ephesians 2. At first glance, I find my thoughts surge with selfishness and a lack of understanding. Surely, this passage doesn’t apply to Christians like me. Dead in my transgressions? What transgressions? An object of wrath? For what? God’s enemy? Yeah, maybe when I was 3 and I wasn’t officially a Christian yet.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…
And then it all comes to my mind - my testimony has nothing to do with me, namely what I have or haven’t done. It has nothing to do with my list of good deeds, or even bad deeds. It has nothing to do with how drastic the lifestyle change in my life may have been or not been. Instead, it has everything to do with Christ… - Him changing me at my deepest core.
Before the grace and sanctification of God was realized in my life (whether at 4 or 104!), I was dead (Eph 2:1). I was without hope. I was, by my very nature, an object of God’s wrath (Eph 2:3). I deserved NOTHING. My very existence meant that I was separated from God. Apart from God, I followed and would continue to follow the ways of the world (Eph 2:3), and my own evil thoughts and desires (Eph 2:3). Not only was I, by my very existence, an enemy of God, I was also a follower of Satan. It seems hard to picture this in someone who was saved as a young child, but even now, apart from Christ, I am all of those things.
BUT PRAISE GOD...Ephesians 2 goes on to explain to us that through Christ (2:5), I am made alive! Through Christ, I am shown God’s great mercy and given salvation. Through Christ, I can and will stand for the ways of truth. Through Christ I am no longer a slave to Satan, but am a child of God, free to love, serve, and sit with Him.
Now that is a testimony that does not sit in the past, with a one-time conversion experience. That is a testimony that does not just apply to those who had a life-changing, radical transformation. That is a powerful and life-changing testimony that every believer can shout about from the rooftops. That is a testimony that unites every believer, whether their previous lifestyle looks more like the apostle Paul or the missionary kid Suzanne. That is a testimony that instead of pointing to a personal transformation, points to the power of being “in Christ.”
So, sisters, let us be unafraid of sharing our personal testimonies - no matter how radical or “un-radical” they may appear to us to be. Let us share what Christ has saved us from, and what He continues to lead us to - being God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10).
Suzanne Hines wants to live in a world where sunflowers bloom in eternal summer, where her children play instead of argue and where her family has an endless budget for travel. When she's not loving her husband, training and teaching her three children, and spreading education on the foster care system, you can find her writing, reading or running outside!
Her favorite Scripture is Romans 12:12 "...be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer..." (NIV)