And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (John 12:32)
For so long in my life, my testimony has largely revolved around my dad's testimony of salvation because I was just a child when our family became Christian. Up until that time, we had only attended church a couple of times with my grandparents and then once when our house burnt down and the church bought us some toys. My dad wasn't necessarily an atheist: just a non-theist. But today, I want to tell the story of how the Lord drew me to Himself because looking back I can see how He had already begun to work in my heart long before we got saved.
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)
Very early on, I had taken an interest in spiritual things. My mom's family was staunchly Catholic and so maybe some of this influence had rubbed off on me. I remember as a child receiving a little, green bible and a book about the crucifixion. Those two books were extremely important to me for a period of time in my life. I'll tell you an interesting story to illustrate their importance to me at the time.
During this time of my life, my family was stationed in North Dakota at Grand Forks Air Force Base. My sister and I were usually close, but as all brothers and sisters do, we occasionally had fights. One of those fights ended in a conversation where my sister told me I should run away and leave. Well, I did just that. When you think about the things you would pack if you were running away, things like clothes, food, toys might be the first thing on your list right. Well, my list was a bible and a robe. The robe was significant because the only preachers I had ever seen were priests and monks. I had it in my mind that I would run away and become a priest.
That phase didn't last forever though. Eventually, I settled down to being a real boy. In 1993, our family was going to be stationed in Misawa, Japan. Before our trip to Japan, my mom, sister and I spent about a month in California with family. My cousins at the time were very religious and along with my aunt spent time talking to me about the Jesus. I didn't understand most of what they said at the time, but this was m first confrontation with the gospel. It did successfully get me hooked on DC Talk at the time.
We moved to Japan and my dad started looking for the truth. He had rented a Christian film called, "A Thief in the Night" and was convinced of what the movie presented. We returned the movie to the rental store right outside the front gate of the base and there were a couple of guys passing out gospel tracts. My dad received one, read it and accepted Christ as his savior. That Sunday was the first time we had ever been in an evangelical church. On the way home, I began to ask my dad about some of the things the pastor had been preaching. My dad explained to me my sin and need for a savior and how nothing I did could gain me forgiveness. Jesus had to die to pay for my sin, but He didn't stay dead, he rose from the grave to conquer death and sin. Now, He offers salvation as a free gift to those who receive that gift by trusting in Him by faith to save them. In the back seat of our car, I prayed and asked the Lord to save me, trusting Him to do what He said He would do.
My testimony isn't one of those exciting stories where I was on drugs or lived an illicit lifestyle. I am becoming convinced that there is a goodness to God that we often miss in our "boring" testimonies because we miss the goodness of God to lead us to repentance. Romans 2:4 tells us that God's goodness leads us to repentance. He spared me from a whole lot of horrible things and gently drew me to Himself even when I didn't realize it. Joe Radosevich pointed this amazing idea out when he said:
Many people have lived and died without ever hearing the message that I have heard every week of my life. It is grace to be told the truth (Radosevich).
When we focus on the amazing stories of salvation and wish our story could be as glamorous as that, we are missing the whole point of the story. In both cases, it is God's grace that allows us to be saved. It is God's grace that a drug addict gets saved and is cleaned up by Christ. It is also God's grace that gives us parents, teachers, and pastors who modeled Christian living and led us to Him. It is God's grace that wooed me all along in my life. It is grace that we even heard the gospel at all.
My challenge for you today is not to shy away from sharing your testimony with someone because it isn't this drastic life change. Shine the light on God's grace and let someone know what He has done for you today.
Radosevich, Joe. “'I Have a Boring Testimony!' No, You Don't.” The Gospel Coalition, 16 Feb. 2021, www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/boring-testimony/.