I’ve been thinking for a while now that it would be interesting and beneficial to have bloggers post their testimonies to their blogs. Some have already done this, but many (myself included) have not. And yet I love testimonies and find them so beautiful and so moving. It is amazing to read about the many ways God saves His people. He uses an infinite variety of means to draw an infinite variety of His people to Himself. Testimonies stand as evidence of God’s grace, showing God’s ability and desire to save people of all types and from all walks of life. They inspire Christians to appreciate the goodness and grace of the Lord. They are also valuable for witnessing to others. So I thought I would put a challenge out for Christian bloggers to post their testimonies to their blogs next Tuesday (we can call it Testimony Tuesday). When you have done so, send me a link through email and I’ll collect them all on my site. And we can rejoice in God’s goodness together.
If you are a blog reader but not a blog owner, why not find a friend and post your testimony to his blog or in his comment section.
Just to kick things off, here is my testimony as I wrote it out when applying for membership at our church.
I can never remember a time that I did not consider myself a Christian. That is a strange way to begin a testimony, I admit, but it is the truth. And still I think my story is a testimony not to anything I’ve been or done, but to the grace of God.
I was raised in a Christian home. My parents were both first generation Christians who were converted only shortly before marrying. When I was born they were Anglican and were on the path to embracing those great doctrines of God’s grace and sovereignty. When I was only an infant they spent the better part of a year at L’Abri in England, learning about Christian doctrine and living through the children and proteges of Francis and Edith Schaeffer. Upon their return we joined a Presbyterian church and, when I was in grade school, migrated to Reformed churches in the Dutch tradition. At some point when I was only five or six years old I seemed to make a commitment to Christ. While I do not remember this, my parents do and feel that it was a genuine expression of faith. Through my childhood we went to church just about any time the doors were upon, read the Bible as a family and memorized catechisms. I also attended Christian schools where I was taught about the world through a Christian perspective and was made to learn Christian history and theology. Sadly, this theological tradition tends to assume the salvation of any born into it. It also tends to overplay the importance of corporate identity in Christ at the expense of a living, vibrant and personal faith. While my parents did much to overcome this deficiency, I always assumed I was a Christian but rarely stopped to ponder if I really was. I considered myself a believer but, in retrospect, showed very little evidence of this.
When I was fifteen or sixteen I came in contact, through a friend, with the Christian rock band Petra. He had fallen in love with their music and played one of their tapes for me. I reacted as I had been implicitly taught through the churches and schools I had been attending most of my life. I laughed and scoffed. And yet I copied a few of the songs and took them home with me. I listened to them time and again and soon bought as many of their albums as I could afford. This music did something in me that I had not expected. The music was full of “I” and “me” and personal challenges and made me consider whether I could, in good conscience, sing along with the band. The song “Underground” stands out in particular.
I won’t go underground
I won’t turn and flee
I won’t bow the knee
I won’t go underground
I won’t run and hide from the rising tide I won’t go underground I won’t compromise what the world denies I won’t go underground And I’m not ashamed of the cross I’ve claimed
Did I really have the kind of faith that would not run and hide? Was I willing to compromise? Had I really claimed the cross? Was this Christian faith really mine, or was it something I was just acting out as I imitated my parents? It seems silly, I know, that such simple songs could challenge me this deeply. And yet they did. They just simmered in my mind and in my heart.
That winter my parents decided, against my wishes, to send my brother and me to a winter retreat at a church near our cottage. This was a Reformed Presbyterian Church and the retreat drew teens from Ottawa all the way to upstate New York. That weekend I saw something that surprised me; something that was foreign to me. I saw teenagers willing to live out their faith and unashamed of doing it. I saw teenagers who did not just claim to be Christians but, to my great surprise, actually acted like Christians. This shocked me and made me uncomfortable and yet somehow it also intrigued me. I wanted whatever these kids had.
I returned to high school markedly different. I soon began to feel a distance from my friends. I began to live like a Christian more than ever before and my friends were unimpressed. They mocked me, telling me I was becoming a holy roller. Their criticism, the newfound emphasis on personally embracing the gospel and the knowledge that teens actually could live like Christians circulated in my mind. One evening, only weeks after returning from the retreat, I remember sitting in my room listening to music and reading, of all things, Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness. The book ended just as the album did. The final song on the album ended in a chorus that repeated “Let the trumpet sound throughout the universe / We proclaim the glory of the Lord / Jesus Christ has gained for us the victory / He’s already won the holy war.” Sometime inside me changed. I collapsed on my bed and told God to do with my life whatever He wanted. I had an awareness of my sin and an awareness of God’s grace that was far more prevalent than at any other time I remember before then. I don’t know if this moment marked my conversion or if it just marked the moment that I truly stepped out and made the faith of my parents my own. Either way, it was a defining moment for me and one that remains dear. I increasingly began to desire to follow hard after God. I began to see the world through the lens of Scripture and began to value what God values. My life was transformed.
I soon left both the church and school. I had to. I couldn’t be in places that dragged up bad memories and places where so many people my age acted in ways that were completely inconsistent with their profession. I had been given a new start and needed to start over in other areas as well. God so ordained it that on my very first day at my new school I met the woman who was to become my wife. We married five years later.
As I look over my life I see a testimony to God’s grace and faithfulness. By grace He saved my parents and then showed His faithfulness in answering their prayers by bringing myself and my four siblings to Himself. By grace He caused me as a young boy to cry out to Him and later to see the reality of my parent’s faith and the truth of His Word and then to turn to Him in faith and obedience. By grace He allowed my life to intersect with Aileen’s so that our two stories, our two testimonies, have now blended into one. By grace He has already begun to conform me to the image of His Son and in faith I trust that His grace will sustain me to the end. This truly is a testimony, not to anything I’ve been or done, but to the love and grace of God.