I believe that we each have a story to tell, and I think it is important that we are ready (at any time) to tell it, both in words and in the way we live our lives.
In Mark 5, the story is told of Jesus healing the daughter of Jairus. She had been very sick, and as the daughter of a religious leader, it is likely she would have been well-known in her community. But as Jesus arrived at her home, it was too late. She had already died.
All around and inside the house were mourners, people yelling and crying about the loss of this little girl. Jesus was confronted with the reality and finality of human death. He immediately told all the mourners to leave the house, and then he took the girl’s hand and restored her back to life. And then in a puzzling verse, Jesus told the family to ‘tell no one’. It was not just a suggestion, it was a command.
In other parts of Scripture, we are told about the power of testimony, so why would Jesus command the family to keep quiet? I read this story again recently, and I believe there is a simple answer. As Jairus was the leader of the synagogue, he and his family would have been well-known and respected in the community. When Jesus arrived at their home, the house was already full of mourners, so the locals already knew that she was dead. So when Jesus brought her back to life, there was no need to tell anyone. She was a living, breathing testimony. She was the story.
Saint Francis of Assisi once said: ‘Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary.’ Many have debated this saying, but personally, I believe it means that when we have been transformed by the power of God, our lives are a walking, living testimony. We can use words to tell our story (and it is important to do so), but the words need to be backed up with evidence of a life which is changed. We can all debate words and philosophies and theology, but no one can argue with a story and a life which has been transformed.
When Jesus healed a blind man in John 9:13-25, the Pharisees questioned the man to ask how this had happened. They wanted to debate theology with him, but he simply replied: ‘I was blind, but now I see.’ Who can argue with that?!
We all have a story to share. Some may have been healed and set free or restored. For others, it may be that they were aware of God’s presence in a difficult time, but I believe we should always be ready to demonstrate and tell our story.
Here are some practical ideas:
Tell the truth
This might seem obvious, but it is important to not tamper with or change the details of the story. It can be tempting to add (or take away) details, but in doing so, we can remove all the power. Tell your story and allow God to add power to your words.
Tell your story in chapters
Imagine your life story as a book – full of different chapters. You do not have to tell the full story, but you can share different chapters at appropriate times. Depending on who I am speaking to, I use different ‘chapters’ of my testimony. Sometimes I will share the story of how I, as a rebellious young man, came to England and met God powerfully. Or I might share about the time we had no money or petrol in the car, but we prayed and God provided in a miraculous way. Or, as I have shared here, I might tell the chapter when we lost our son Jamie. You do not have to tell the whole story. The individual chapters can be just as powerful.
Some stories don’t end well
In 1988, a few weeks before we lost our son Jamie, our friends’ daughter Sarah was taken very seriously ill with meningitis. I will tell her story in a future blog post, but God stepped in and healed Sarah in a miraculous way. A few weeks later, we lost our son, and it led to many questions about why God would heal one child and yet take another. Even though our family’s story did not end the way we wanted it to, it is still a story of God’s amazing provision and faithfulness. Even if your story did not conclude the way you wanted it to, you can still tell of how God sustained you in the difficult times.
The enemy will try to stop you.
I believe the enemy knows the power of testimony. The original Hebrew root of the word ‘testimony’ means to ‘do it again’. In other words, when we share our testimony, we are literally encouraging others to believe that God CAN ‘do it again’. The enemy will try to quench the power of stories, and he will try to stop you from sharing yours, but when you tell your story, you are saying to the world ‘God is alive and He is at work in my life.’ There is huge power in that.
I believe that God wants to ‘do it again’. Do you have a story to share? Why don’t you start to tell it?
At UCB, we love to hear your stories. If UCB has helped you in some way (either through something you have read, heard or watched), we would love to hear from you. You can fill in the form below and one of our team will contact you for more information.