I have always loved seeing what God can do when we are bold enough to take the step and share our stories.
Our embarrassing, dirty, shameful, messy, real life stories that God has taken and transformed, restored, healed and forgiven.
All of us have a story about how we found Jesus, and often times we give the ‘church appropriate’, edited, just-the-right-amount-of-edgy-to-be-relevant-but-not-uncomfortable-versions of our stories.
I’ve been feeling convicted recently that we need to get uncomfortable in telling our stories. We need to be more authentic and open about what God has saved us from.
Sure, that clean version of your story can still touch people, God can still use it, and He will. But, if we are called to be reaching those that are truly lost and hurting in this world. I think we need to be sharing the real thing. Because they’re going through the real things right now. We need to show them that there is hope.
We need to use our stories to bridge the gap between the church and that lie that unbelievers so often believe that says God is only for “good people” who haven’t messed up as badly as they have.
1 Timothy 1:15-19 (MSG) says, “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting Him forever.”
I’ve said it before, but there’s just something about The Message version of the Bible that often stops me in my tracks and makes me see a scripture in a whole new way. Wording is everything to me.
This line at the end of this verse “…And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.” got me. I don’t know about you, but I want to be used like that. I want God to show off my story to be that final push for someone, for that person who’s right on the edge of trusting Him forever.
And Public Sinner Number One? That person who could have never made it apart from sheer mercy? That’s all of us.
Every. Single. One.
These nitty-gritty details of our stories are the things that show off His endless patience.
To God, all sin is the same. It’s all falling short of His glory. Yet, often times we still live by the unspoken belief that some sins are worse than others, and that some parts of our stories should be “edited out” to be less offensive and more acceptable.
For many Christians, it’s fine for a man to admit that he had struggled with being addicted to pornography in his story. But, have a woman admit she’s dealt with the same struggles and suddenly that’s too taboo to talk about. Therefore women who do struggle with this don’t feel free to open up and get help, they feel isolated, shameful, dirty, and like they don’t belong anywhere near a church. So often times they stay silent, and keep struggling alone.
We don’t flinch when someone admits to having struggled with impure thoughts, pre-marital sex, or even infidelity, but what if that person is a homosexual? The sin is the same. And we as Christians are completely missing this group of people by being so vocally offended by their presence in the world and judging their sins more harshly than others.
Jesus isn’t offended by them.
He looks at all sin the same way.
The truth is, the enemy wants you to stay silent. He is going to use whatever lies he can to keep you from telling your real story. Because those very details that you’re holding on to shame over – are the very parts of your unique testimony that God wants to restore and use for His glory.
When we share our stories, darkness is brought into light and the enemy loses his hold.
God turns our shame into purpose.
He takes us from nothing to everything.
He literally takes the bad/hard/painful/destructive seasons of your life and restores them to gardens of grace to be used for His good. Once you find Jesus, Nothing is wasted.
Those things you dealt with in your past that God saved you from – He didn’t save you JUST so you could live a better, more Christ-like life. No, He saved you so that you could share your story with others that are walking in the same shoes you were when you were right on the edge of trusting Him.
I truly believe there are people in our world that need to hear OUR specific stories.
Whether it’s someone who has never even heard of Jesus, or someone in church who loves God, and wants to grow, but is just struggling with a sin that they’re so ashamed of… God wants to use our stories to help them. To bring darkness to light, and to show them that we serve a forgiving, loving God who doesn’t draw a line in the sand at which sins are dirtier.
He’s a God of mercy and restoration, of second chances, and re-writing stories.
Maybe you’re reading this today and you feel discouraged because God has done an amazing work in your life, but you’ve fallen back into a struggle with sin. Or maybe, you don’t want to share your story because He hasn’t healed you yet at all.
He’s still writing your story.
And what was that we talked about, His endless patience? It still hasn’t run out. We are all works in progress and loved by a God not because we are good, but because we are HIS. His forgiveness hasn’t run out. And he doesn’t put a limit on restoration.
I was watching a video of Brooke Ligertwood leading worship and she said this quote, “God didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people ALIVE.”
So let’s go live, openly and authentically. Live your life knowing that you are a story that God wants to use for His glory. Let Him show you off as evidence of His endless patience, to those who are right on the edge of trusting Him forever.
& someday they’ll be doing the same.
PS. Whether I know you, or we have never met, please always feel free to reach out to me for prayer or help in any of these areas. Sometimes you just need to talk to a friend, and I would love to be there for you.