We know that testimonies can be powerful. Scripture tells us to declare how much God has done for us. Most of us have been deeply moved by testimonies, but have you ever listened to someone’s testimony and felt critical or jealous?
A critical heart would think, “I could present this in a better way” or “My story is more powerful than this”, while a jealous heart might think, “My testimony isn’t that powerful; I might as well never share it because it won’t measure up.”
I was watching old home videos recently and came across one of my younger brother taking his first steps. In the video, I was about four years old. As soon as he took that first step, I yelled to my parents, “He’s doing it!” Then, as my parents began to praise him, I suddenly realized I was no longer the center of attention and proceeded to push my wobbling brother to the side so I could run across the room and do a cartwheel.
I think sometimes we approach working out the same way we approach grace and Christianity. Too often, the main reason we reach out to God is because we think we messed up somehow. “Oh, I sinned again. I need to pray.”
It’s similar with working out – we do it because we want to fix something. “Oh, I messed up my diet again. I need to work out.”
A few months ago, God started speaking to me about great faith and where it comes from. The message I want to share focuses on three men in scripture: Abraham, Elijah and Thomas. My mother-in-law laughed at me when I said that I wanted to talk about Thomas as a man of great faith, but he’s in the lineup all the same.
First let’s look at Abraham, or Abram at the time. In Genesis 15:7, God essentially promises Abram land and Abram responds by asking, “But how will I know for sure?” We know that Abram was a man of faith. In the very verse before this one, God told Abram that he would have a son and Abram believed the Lord because of his great faith, and it was counted as righteousness.
The words sound empty and hollow, even to me.
I’m on autopilot, saying the things I know would get me an A in an English course,
but mean nothing to the one I’m talking to.
I say sorry for the millionth time,
and for the millionth time we both know I would do it again. Maybe even tonight. Repeat. Repent. Repeat. Repent.
Please, God, break this shell. Get through to me.
Forbid me. Punish me.
I was going through an old journal, and found this entry I wrote about prayer when I was in high school. I was struggling with an addiction at the time and felt like repentance was losing its meaning. I would apologize, agonize, and then fall into the same temptation again. The problem was that I had a flawed definition of repentance and I was trying to break an addiction by myself.
When I graduated from college, I was in a relationship with someone I greatly cared for. He had stood by me as a friend and boyfriend for three years as I tried to work my way through a sudden loss of stability. My parents had divorced, my childhood home was being sold, my church had split down the middle and the sense of displacement was staggering at times. However, the boy I loved didn’t believe in the God I was longing for. He would go to church with me and he would sit quietly while I prayed, but he didn’t know how to help me find the peace I was searching for.
I am so incredibly thankful—for my family, for my friends, for my job—but I am also hurting. In this season of grief, God put three things on my heart that I hope might be helpful to others who are also hurting