This past week our Lead Pastor, Chris, challenged us as a church to allow our testimony… “Our Story”, to be used by God. Step one of this is to simply tell it.
So here I am, a pastor of a local church in a small community. Naturally, this is a piece of cake for a pastor right? That’s what most people think, but what you don’t realize though is that as a pastor, I’m use to people stopping these kinds of conversations before that ever get started, thus making this a lot trickier than you might expect.
So no, I didn’t run straight home and go talk with an unsuspecting neighbor, nor did I corner the first cashier at the grocery store. Instead I prayed and looked for a natural opportunity to share my story.
Funny thing happens when you pray for an opportunity to share your story and look for it… God gives it to you.
Sure enough, Thursday morning (at the gym) the opportunity presented itself with “So… what do you do for a living?”
Here’s my story in under 2 minute:
I’m a husband, a dad, and Christ follower.
Life Before Christ
I grew up in a strong Christian home. It wasn’t the kind of “Christian home” that most people know. You know, the kind that looks really good on Sundays, but has it’s worts show up Monday through Saturday? No, we had our worts on Sundays too. We were kind of a little “out there” for some.
I have a dad that reads his Bible throughout the week and not just on Sunday. I have a mom who consistently lived the lifestyle she expected us to live. Like I said, not typical for most Christian homes these days.
I accepted Christ as a child. I believed the Bible was true (and still do). I believed the stories we written about real people who lived real lives. I believed that Jesus’s death on the cross covered all my mistakes and sins. The one thing about my Christian upbringing that I did have to reckon with though was its neatness. My church background had everything tied up in a neat little package with a bow on top and to be honest, I had a hard time reconciling it with what I knew to be true: Real is Raw… and raw isn’t always so “neat” and “sanitary”.
My Encounter with Christ
My wife and I had just moved Troy, Ohio when my sister-in-law was killed in a car accident. She and brother-in-law were really close to us. So close that we actually put our house on the market after living in it for only a couple weeks and moved in with my brother-in-law. We spent one year, living out of a suitcase and sleeping on a couch. That year was one of the toughest years of our lives and yet I often tell people “It made us who we are today.”
During that year, God took us on an amazing journey of discovery. We discovered our faith that year. Somethings looked the same… somethings different.
We learned that not everything is black and white, somethings are actually a strange shade of green. We learned this though experiences, acquaintances, and struggles.
Something else happened that year though. Jesus became real. He became raw. And he moved us out of our comfortable Baptist church and into a living, breathing, faith that centers on genuinely loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Life After Christ
Now my story is simple. I’m a husband (for over 17 1/2 years now), a dad (of 6 beautiful kids), and Christ follower desperately trying to live a life that’s “Owned by God”. I’ve been called to show others the hope and freedom that I have in Christ and let them know that it’s theirs too if they want it.