“I fell out with my wife on 31st December 2012, after a crazy night out with friends,” the man choked out the words into the microphone, as an ominous hush fell over the crowded sanctuary. “We stayed together for a few months, but it was more a room-mate situation than a marriage.” He continued.
He related how him and his wife eventually separated and she moved out of the house.
Today was testimony Sunday at my church, Mamlaka Hill Chapel, and members of the congregation were standing up to share the different ways God had revealed and glorified Himself through their lives and experiences. The service leader for the day, Pastor Isaac Murage, began by laying down the ground-rules concerning the testimonies. This was a prudent measure to protect the privacy of some members and to discourage any tendency to claim any glory in our testimonies rather than ascribing it to God.
I found the inclusion of ground-rules a necessary measure — one that was a teaching moment in itself. For example, we often fail to testify about God, not because we do not have a testimony, but because we think of them as our own achievements. We claim the glory to ourselves.
The man who stood to tell the story of his failed marriage did not paint himself as the victim in his story. But neither did he paint himself as the hero. On the contrary, he took the blame for whatever had happened. At the end of his moving testimony, to the surprise of many (I included) the man’s wife stood up from the seat next to his and hugged him. The story had a happy and glorious ending — the couple had reconciled towards the end of 2013. What seemed like an impossible marriage had been redeemed through prayer and God’s grace.
Soli deo Gloria.
Today’s service caused me to reflect on why we share testimonies in church . In Psalm 9:1-2, David speaks of speaking about God’s wonderful deeds in his life:
“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.”
Testifying is an act of praise. While some choose to tell of God’s marvelous works in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, others choose to tell it in story. In the legal courts, testimonies are accounts of real-life events as told by people who witnessed them. A story by a third-party is not a testimony. There has to be a “taste” in every testimony.
Also, testimonies are a means of grace. I am persuaded that it is for a similar reason (if not the only reason) that the Bible is presented to us in the form of stories. Stories are powerful. The bible is not just a library of maxims, proverbs and propositions. There are numerous lessons about the nature and character and mission of God in the stories of the Bible.
Through the lives of David, Abraham, Joseph and others, we get to see God at work. Grace on the ground. Mercy in the mess of sinners’ lives. I encourage you to listen to testimonies of God’s work in your friends’ lives. I also encourage you to share some of the testimonies you have. It doesn’t have to be an intriguing, or super-dramatic story of rags to riches. It only has to be a story. A true story. A sincere story. A story about God’s ability in the midst of our inability. A story about God’s love in the midst of our rebellion. A story about God’s grace in the midst of our wickedness.
No, testimonies do not have to be bad stories. Even good stories, stories of continual success, are testimonies of God’s presence and goodness. God does not just show up in the bad times. God is always up, even in the good times.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
blessed is the one who trusts in you. [Psalm 84:11-12]
What is your testimony? Please, share it.
For the fame of His name.