This is an amazing and exciting testimony! And as Luke 15:7 tells us, there's a party going on in heaven for my new brother in Christ!
This event got me seriously thinking about testimony. The testimony above is 100% truthful, and yet misses out all the doubt, waiting, patience, confusion, praying, and more doubt.
I got back to Cambridge, from university, on the 5th of June. Soon after, I began hearing all these exciting stories from my Cambridge-Christian-Friends about people they'd seen turn to Christ, amazing stories of healing, etc... These testimonies blew me away and made me so excited! And yet, the accuser got in there and started making me feel guilt, as a result of these wonderful testimonies.
'You don't have any testimonies like that Abigail'
'How many instant, on-the-spot healings have you seen in the past few months, Abigail? None?'
'What a rubbish Christian. You've done nothing noteworthy.'
I began comparing myself to other Christians, and feeling truly rubbish. I would see people, my age, doing incredible things for God, selling all their things, being truly risky in their lives and letting God take them to dangerous countries to share the gospel.
Then, there's comfortable little me doing what most people my age do; I go to university. Where's the excitement in that?
As a Christian, I've been constantly told 'God shines through our weaknesses!' coupled with testimonies of drug addicted prostitutes turning to Christ and becoming amazing missionaries who have aided in bringing hundreds of people to believe in Jesus.
But even this made me feel more worthless.
In my little uni-student life, I was neither selling all my things and going to dangerous countries, nor was I addicted to drugs. I sit comfortably far away from extremes like this, which led me to think I was far too boring for God to use me.
And yet, God uses us just as we are.
I met my new friend Joe (not his real name) quite unexpectedly. The details of how we met are long and convoluted, intertwined with another on-going story that I don't have the space to write about - and that just shows how flipping amazing God is.
Before going to this place, I prayed loads and loads for God to use me when I got there - I didn't expect anything, and at the time I thought nothing had happened.
The second time I went to this place, I met Joe. I let slip I was a Christian, and I thought that was that. Nothing incredible there.
The third time I went to this place, I met Joe again! After doing what we had to do there, we had a little chat. He was mostly telling me about his life, and about his blog. I asked to see his blog, so we swapped facebooks and that evening I got a message from him with a link to his blog. I read a few posts that were really interesting, I found out so much about his life, and very much enjoyed his writing style. Then I came across a post called 'Why I'm Not A Christian'. Well, as a Christian, I was intrigued. What I read was so interesting, and explored many of the doubts I, and many other followers of Jesus, experience. He seemed to know a lot about Christianity, but missed the whole Jesus dying for us part, which intrigued me further.
As I prayed for Joe, I began to feel such pain for him. Here was a lovely, intelligent person, experiencing huge difficulties in his life without Jesus to guide him.
I asked him if he would like to meet up and talk through some of these questions, and to my surprise, he said yes.
On the Sunday, I went to a bible study at my neighbours' house and all the people there prayed for both me, Joe, and my other friend (who is part of the aforementioned convoluted story). One friend, Doug, said he would specifically pray at 5pm the next day, when I had arranged to meet Joe.
On my way to meet Joe, I really felt God's presence with me. I felt nervous, but fully knew that God was in control.
The conversation we had was really interesting, Joe knew a lot about the bible and a lot about pretty much everything. I felt my intellect let me down a little bit, but on the whole the conversation was good. After saying goodbye, I knew God was in control and that I couldn't do anything else, but the accuser sure lives up to his name...
'You didn't say a prayer of salvation with him. Mission, failed.'
It was the next evening when I received a text from Joe saying he thought he believed in Jesus again.
God was working in our conversation, and whilst I wasn't there. God was working in Joe's heart all his life.
I actually squealed in public when I read my phone, and couldn't stop smiling. I praised God over and over, losing my words. My boyfriend was with me at the time and found it funny that all my Christian-Jargen/Christianese went out the window as I exclaimed 'Good job God! Thanks so much! You're amazing! Aaaah!'
I met with Joe a couple of hours later, and he confirmed that he wanted Jesus in his life. (This is a very un-detailed statement, and does not delve into the difficulty Joe had to get to saying 'Yes' and all the doubts that both he and I were/are experiencing)
Joe has a heart for broken people; I pray God nurtures this, and uses Joe for the building of His kingdom!
Now I could leave the story there, that's often what we think testimonies should be; a little story of how someone came to Christ and the story ends with everyone pumped for the next story of salvation. But that's not accurate or truthful at all. Joe's entire life will be his testimony. A day after giving his life to Christ, he has not lost his questions and doubts, he is not fully healed, he is not going to sell all his things and travel to North Korea with a suitcase full of bibles... his testimony is ongoing. When we become Christians, that isn't the end. It is only the beginning (yuck, what a cliché! But it suits, none the less.)
What God has in store for Joe is amazing - it won't be an easy journey, but it will be wonderful.
|1 Corinthians 2:1-5|
I think my point here is, let's be truthful in our testimonies. Let's tell others where we are at, and where our friends are at.
I've been reading an old book called 'Out of the saltshaker and into the world' by Rebecca Manley Pippert recently, and she puts huge emphasis on being real, being who we are, when sharing the gospel.
It's not that 'God can use you no matter what', the truth is, 'God WILL USE YOU'.
You. Not a rehearsed or refined version of yourself. The real, boring uni student, you.
God will do the rest.