If you have been around church, and church folk for any amount of time, you will have heard on multiple occasions what we call testimonies. God’s people love to tell about His goodness in their lives. Whether it be how the Lord redeemed them, or the other kind of testimony of going through a trial and seeing how the Lord was faithful every step of the way, and miraculously brought them out on the other side.
Every good testimony has 3 components:
- What your life was like before. Either before salvation or the events leading up to your trial
- What your experience was. Either salvation or the actual trial.
- What happened after or how your life has changed since. Either since your salvation or post trial.
If you have never written out your personal testimony of salvation, you should totally try this. Maybe these 3 points will be helpful. And, with a little tweaking, you can even use them to journal a specific time of trial or even joy you experienced with the Lord. It’s an awesome exercise!
And it is right and good to tell of the greatness of the Lord! He’s a worthy muse!
Psalms 89:1 says, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. With my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations.”
So, go on, girl. Tell that testimony with joy and with all the umph you can muster.
Write it down so you can turn it over and over again in your hand like a priceless jewel. Marvel at the beauty of its multi-faceted grace. Let it be a reminder of your amazing Savior and how intimately involved He is in the details of your life for your good, yes!
But, ah, much more importantly, for HIS glory! (Romans 8:28)
But sometimes……sometimes that 3rd point of a testimony is as allusive as a long hot bath.
Something happened to me one day while I was speaking at a ladies retreat.
I was teaching about all the attributes of God. Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability. All the big hitters.
When I got to the attribute of faithfulness, I began to tell my own testimony. I began with great gusto. Recounting the ways the Lord had been faithful in my life. But as I spoke, right there in front of those beautiful, wide-eyed women, I started to flounder.
I suddenly realized that my testimony did not have a 3rd point! There was only a long, skinned-up story that had bled all over the pages and turned into ragged books that seemed to limp along into raw sequels that never ended.
No 3rd point. No book end.
God had been so faithful to me through the years, but it suddenly occurred to me that I was still in the wilderness, still in the fire.
Many books. No book end.
In that moment, it felt like all the air had been sucked out of that room.
I so much wanted to say, “Oh, ladies! It was so hard, so painful! My journey was rocky and steep! Look at all these tattered books! But here I am on the other side….victorious and grateful for all the Lord taught me! And look at my shiny bedazzled book end! Ta-Dah! It’s over! So hang on in your trial! He will come through for you like He did for me!”
But I couldn’t say that. And as the tears filled my eyes and weariness of the burden set in, I felt so discouraged.
As I finished my Bible study with a fizzle and went back to my room, I cried out, “Lord! When will this be over? Please don’t add any more books to my shelf! I need a book end this time!”
Gently, and in His Abba way, He led me to this passage. Verse 26 is crazy-awesome, so I just threw it in there as frosting.
Wonder what God, “riding through the heavens to my help” looks like. Fierce. Another day, another blog. But my main focus is verse 27.
“There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
I’ve read it a thousand times. One of my heroines of the faith, Elisabeth Elliot, used to quote verse 27 on her radio broadcast every day.
But this time the word “underneath” caught my rapt attention. Here I had been begging God for a book end, when He had been my unfaltering shelf “underneath” supporting me all along.
With everlasting arms, He had held true and strong through every chapter in every book of my life. I had been focusing on the wrong thing. That pesky 3rd point.
That drooled-over book end.
But is that really the goal? To have the end of our trial? Or is it our suffering Savior’s plan, if He should so desire it, that we suffer sometimes?
In His infinite mind, does He know this secret: that the pain, suffering, and long waiting will serve us extravagantly in our quest to be like Him as it drives us to focus on His strength, His presence, His provision, and His everlasting arms underneath us?
But that’s a whole nuther Bible Study.
Our lives rarely meander gently down the flowery path we hoped for. And sometimes we are called to live for Jesus in the painful waiting with no book end in sight.
If that’s where you find yourself today……pain, confusion, and ohhhh, the waiting……like 1995 internet dial–up, I would call you to refocus.
It’s not the book end you’re after, but rather the strong shelf underneath it all that will never fail. Through your long waiting pain, find your peace and joy knowing that “underneath are the everlasting arms“.
Make no mistake. He is faithful and He will bring an end to the pain we experience. I’m merely nudging you in love…..to covet the Shelf more than the book end.
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