Have you done this? You are in a church or watching Christian TV and the person speaking is giving their testimony – describing how they came to faith in Jesus Christ. If it has made it onto a stage or onto TV, it is usually something dramatic – they were dealing drugs or living life as a heavy metal star when Jesus caused them to make a huge open and obvious u turn in order to follow Him through His divine intervention. he may have spoken to them in a dream or through a cloud and you are just hanging on every word.
But because we are people prone to silly people stuff, if you are like me if the testimony is really good, stray thoughts start interrupting those of a more godly variety. I start to think, “Man, my testimony stinks, I wish I was running guns on mules to South American Communist revolutionaries when Jesus called me. I am such a loser.”
When I ask people who have been raised in the church how they were saved, their almost defeated response bears out the same sentiment. Shoulders dipped, voice apologetic, “Well, i don’t really have a testimony, I have been going to church since I was a kid and I have always believed. I am really boring. I wish I had been a Sikh mercenary or a Barbary pirate or something, why am I such a failure.” Ok, I made up that last part.
It is not true and it is based upon things that are not true, but in a way it is understandable. Those great stories of God almost reaching down with a hand from heaven and grabbing someone and pulling them from deep, deep darkness are just wonderful to hear and God works is awesome ways. God is worthy of praise for saving these lost souls. These stories get an audiences attention as well. As an individual, personally I love to hear them.
But as a person who came to Jesus in my 30’s and now as a Dad, those dramatic histories are just about the last thing I want for my kids. I pray for my kids to have the most simple “boring” testimony ever, so without drama that it makes the plot twists of watching paint drying or grass growing exciting in comparison. That would mean that I have done my job and lead them to Jesus’ feet from a young age and they haven’t left Him – exactly where Jesus wants them.
I love Jesus telling the story of the Prodigal Son and I identify so much with the ways of the younger brother. The parable tells us so much about God and His love of His children. Jesus depicts God running out to meet us and welcome us home after we have wasted years and sinned greatly – how amazing is that? As a prodigal kind of – I wasn’t raised in the church – I am so grateful that this opportunity to return to a welcoming father is there.
But you know what would be even better – had the prodigal son never left at all.
It would have been so much better had the Prodigal grown up loving his father, doting on his dad, sitting at his knee and taking in every word. It would have been a picture of a perfect relationship according to the parable had either son stayed with the father and got up each day and joyfully did his chores and ate meals with dad and did all of the every day things that families do when living together and them loving every moment. May not be as dramatic but it would have been better. This is what God intends for us – a simple awesome relationship – not drama. Christianity does not actually require pain and suffering, though sin tends to bring it into the picture on a regular basis.
When the younger brother goes off and follows his passions, the passage covers his fall and return so quickly we may miss what brings him around. Pain, struggle, loss, want, discontent, filth and more pain – that is life without relationship with the father. My life before Jesus was filled with pain and sorrow. It was a terrible lost wasted life…until I came in repentance to the Father and He ran out to meet me and we had a feast. I had to go through the bad things so that I was broken down enough in my flesh to accept me need for a Savior but that does not mean others do. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus loving Him and hanging on every word while Martha struggled and grumbled.
If people get to skip the getting broken down part and the pain part, isn’t it truly the most exciting testimony of all eternity. I was raised so that I never even contemplated not following Jesus for all time, shouldn’t that be what gets a standing ovation. I can never remember not loving Jesus is a dream of this father, me, and is the heart of our Heavenly Father.
This type of testimony may never make it on the show with the lady with the pink hair, but a sheep who has always followed the shepherd is the ultimate testimony any father can wish for his children. Just follow the Lord, don’t turn to the left or the right, nothing for the Lord to rebuild or restore…be a man after God’s own heart.
What a testimony!