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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Strauser

Textbook Testimony

Today I woke up thinking about babies. Not in the “I want to have more babies” way. That ship has long since sailed while I joyfully waved goodbye from the pier. Instead, it was the realization that moms like to talk about their experiences having babies. When I was pregnant for the first time I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect but I found quickly that I was not lacking advice. So many people told me about their own stories, the close calls, the funny, the embarrassing, the scary but the stories that calmed me the most weren’t the ones that were the most memorable, they were the ones where everything went right. I found hope in the textbook testimonies.

Here’s the thing about each birth experience that was shared with me, they all ended the same way. Regardless of the different roads that lead there, they ended with a new life. Whether cesarian or “natural”, whether on bedrest or working up to the end, whether alone or with loving support, whether young or old, no matter the details the outcomes were the same and ultimately the outcome was the only thing that mattered. The details made each experience unique but new life was the purpose and the goal. Our testimonies are no different.

"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

- Revelation 12:11 NASB

Notice that the verse does not say the word of some of their testimonies, or the most extreme, unexpected, or entertaining. Every testimony is important; every God story matters. He doesn’t write throwaways. We all started from a place of need. Just because mine might not look like yours doesn’t mean that your need was any less real or that mine was any less dire. We need to stop comparing our testimonies and feeling less important, less useful for the Kingdom.

This might be a controversial opinion but just try to convince me otherwise: the greatest testimony of the power of Jesus is the one who surrendered early and never strayed! We need more of those! We need more people sharing that God was able to keep them through the storms, through the trials, through the persecution and the struggle and the hardships. Those stories are not less than! They are the textbook testimonies that carry God’s peace. You don’t have to go wander and get lost to be used for the Kingdom, just open your mouth, tell your story and see God set people free!

When I finally made my way home, back to my Father’s house, I knew that I was surrendering my present and my future to Him. I was laying aside my own will and taking on His. That was kind of a no-brainer, I mean if you’re not starting there you really haven’t started at all. It was my past that I held on to for a while longer. There were parts of my journey that I was sure I would take to my grave, things that I couldn’t imagine ever sharing with another human being.

It took me a while to realize that I needed to surrender my past as well. My life was not my own, therefore my testimony was not my own. God wrote a beautiful story through my life, who was I to choose to keep it to myself? There were people that needed to hear what He did, there were people that needed to know that there was hope, that their situations weren’t beyond God’s reach, that they were seen and loved and known. There were people that needed to hear the story that He wrote and it was my job to share it.

I remember the first time I shared the testimony of my history with pornography and sex addiction, I was so scared! I ghosted both of my pastors the whole week leading up to me giving my testimony in church because I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t imagine standing in front of our entire congregation and admitting the kind of person that I once was. But God was unrelenting, and finally, at the eleventh hour I surrendered and gave in. I stood in front of a full house and bared some of my deepest secrets, not because of something that I was going to get out of it but because of something that I needed to give. There was hope that needed to be shared, there was a God story that needed to be told so that He could free someone else, so that He could do it again.

When the service was over this precious woman ran up to me and started to cry. She had struggled with the same things. She believed that she would always be that way, that there was no freedom in her future because she never heard another woman talk about her issue. God knew that she would be there, God knew what she needed to hear, and God had a solution to her bondage—it was through a surrendered past that He spoke and a life lived in the light that her hope came. I got to baptize that wonderful woman in my bathtub before she moved away that week. Had I waited, had I kept hiding, I would have missed the opportunity to share the hope that she needed to hear. Our testimony is an open door for hope to hit a heart and God to do it again! How beautiful! How amazing! What a privilege to be the carrier of the answer that someone else needs.

It’s all important, every piece, no matter where you are in your journey with Jesus. It all points to Him anyway. I love the story of the woman at the well, I love that Jesus met her there in the middle of her rejection and her shame. I love that He chose her to be the witness. It reminds me that He uses unlikely people. What I really love about her story, though, is the transformation that took place from one encounter with Jesus. She came to the well at midday because she was isolating from people and she left an evangelist to a whole community! She didn’t wait until her life was all in order, until she could go study the scriptures for a few years and have an answer for everyone’s questions before she shared her story! She met the Messiah, her life was changed and she went and told people about it. We need to be more like her! I need to be more like her. She was lost and now she was found and that was testimony enough.

Maybe your marriage is still in shambles, doesn’t matter, tell people that you’ve been found. Maybe your kids are far from God, doesn’t matter, tell people that you’ve been found. Maybe you’re still struggling with habits or hurts, doesn’t matter, tell people that you’ve been found. Stop waiting until you have the testimony that you want and tell the one that you’ve got. People need the hope that you have and as God keeps moving He will keep putting people in your path that need to hear the latest chapter. We need to stop waiting until the book is finished and start sharing what’s already been written and leave the rest to Him. It’s all His story anyway.

Written by Amanda Strauser

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