Testimonies Part 2

Earlier this week, I wrote about the power of testimonies. I thought it would be helpful to look at someone in Scripture who wasn’t afraid to tell others about how Jesus changed his life.

The Apostle Paul had quite a story to share – reading through the Book of Acts gives us a great overview of it. For now, let’s zero in on Chapter 22, one of the first times he relates the details of his dramatic conversion.

Remember when I mentioned three qualities that make a testimony compelling for me? Well, I found all of them in abundance in this passage.  Check out these excerpts:

Paul’s story was honest

He wasn’t afraid to confess his mistakes, his faults, his sin, which helps me relate to him.

“I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.” (v. 4-5)

Paul’s story was specific  

The descriptions he included help me feel like I’m there – I can almost experience the events with him as he remembers them.

“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’  ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.”  (v.6-8)

Paul’s story was God-centered

A thread of praise runs through his whole tale, challenging me to acknowledge God’s authority and His Will for me.

“Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.”          (v. 14-15)

 

I hope Paul’s story can inspire you as you write your own!

Idols

Idols have been on my mind lately, especially in relation to worship. I’ve written before about all the idols I’ve had in my life, starting when I was very young. When I thought about things I wanted, such as career success, or money, or a beautiful face and body, I felt intense excitement about getting them, along with a gritty determination – I could not fail to capture them, or my life was worthless. That sounds extreme, and it was. I truly believed that without those things, there wasn’t much reason to get up in the morning. I literally worshipped the daydreams I spun about what I would do and be.

But here’s a truth I’ve learned about idols: they are illusions. Each of the items on my “To Do” list held a promise for me – a complete and exciting life full of people who loved and appreciated me for the amazing person I’d become.

Do you see the faulty thinking there?

I assumed that getting the perfect job or losing 20 pounds would suddenly make me a person who was worthy of notice. The person I already was didn’t deserve to be loved, so improving myself in all these areas was the way to earn happiness. For me, idol worship came out of insecurity. I simply didn’t like myself, and so I bought into the illusion that there was another me out there somewhere, just waiting to be discovered. But what I needed was healing, not a self-improvement regimen. Through God’s Word and some good teaching, I’ve learned that I have always been worthy of love. God actually designed the me I am – my eye color and my temperament, my shoe size and my talents. And He has always loved, accepted and respected me.

The bottom line is, I started concentrating on myself and what I should do, and more onto God and what He could do. I began to align my will to His, and to seek to please Him rather than people. I accepted Him is the source of my significance. The more I worshipped God the less of a hold the old idols had on me. They will always try to lure me away, but I won’t be following them anymore.