Tuesday, June 2, 2009


When I was a kid, we used to go to these meetings. At some of these meetings someone would ask people to tell about the time when they were saved—give a testimony. “I was in a cotton patch when I felt the Lord dealing with me,” one person might say. “Before I was saved, I played guitar in a bar, but when the Lord saved me, he saved my guitar too,” I remember another man saying. “The church was in revival services all week and I was under conviction. On that last day, I was afraid I wouldn’t live through the day. I was out in the watermelon patch and I told the Lord that if he’d let me live I’d give my heart to him that night,” another testimony goes. There were many more. Some of them were truly fascinating and all I could think about is that if someone asked me to give my testimony it would sound so unimportant compared to the others.

I was eight years old when I accepted Christ. I wasn’t in a cotton patch, in the cow pasture or even at church. I had my own room, a tiny space that had been Dad’s “study.” Though, I remember him doing most of his studying sitting next to the wood stove in the kitchen. My room was in the front of the house, far away from the other bedrooms. I couldn’t hear anyone breathing, or snoring or making any movement at all. I would lie there in bed wondering, are they still here? Has the Lord already come back? Will I be all alone in the morning? Then I would begin to yell, “Mom! Mom!” I would keep yelling until someone came, “What do you want?” Relief would flood over me. “Can I have a glass of water?” Whichever one came would leave and it seemed like a long time before my parent returned with a glass of water. They would sit on my bed and for a short time I would have the assurance that I wasn’t left to fend for myself in this vast world. Then one night I lay in bed, as I had many times before, fearful that I would wake the next morning and the house would be empty. “Dad! Dad!” He must have been so tired of me yelling, but at last I saw him at my door. “How can I be saved?” If that surprised him, I don’t know, but I remember him reminding me that when Paul and Silas were in prison, the jailor came in and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” and Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and though shalt be saved.” Then Dad asked me if I wanted to pray and ask Jesus to save me. I rolled over on my stomach and prayed, right there in that little room. “Did he save you?” Dad asked when I turned back over. “Yes,” I said, at last feeling at peace.

Mine is hardly significant compared to some I have heard, but the testimony or testimonial is perhaps the most influential story that we can tell. Look how often it is used in advertising. Look at the back of many books. “This is the greatest book since sliced bread.” “This book will change the way you think about [insert subject here].” But why is it so powerful?

Give, and it shall be given unto you. Believe that? It’s in the Bible. It’s written in red, but do you really believe it? I could spend all day trying to give you all the logical reasons why you should believe this statement, but you won’t believe it any more than you do at this moment. But what if I told you about how a few months ago I made a $500 donation to Lifeword Broadcast Ministries? I gave, not expecting anything in return. A few weeks later, my boss called me into his office. He handed me a certificate, recognizing me for some work I had done earlier. “There’ll be an extra $500 in your paycheck.” (true story) It’s much easier for people to disagree with something that comes across as rhetoric, but what are you going to do with a testimony? Call the person a liar?

A testimony is a story that a person tells about a personal experience. No, they aren’t always truthful, and the event may be an anomaly, but we tend to believe testimonies when the tellers include details that are verifiable. When the teller believes he is telling the truth, it is had to dispute him.