Poor Daddy. He just couldn’t shake it. Shame weighed him down like a dead body strapped to his back. No matter how many times I told him that God loved and accepted him just the way he was, he couldn’t believe it. That kind of grace was unfathomable, unthinkable, unbelievable . . . especially for a man like him. I wonder if you know someone like him…or maybe have been someone like him?
As I think about my dad I wonder, how does a body get so low he feels there’s no getting out of the hole he’s dug? How does a soul see beyond the wrong done to him and through him? How does a pierced heart heal when the knife still turns in tender flesh?
In the past, I’ve shared how the home I grew up in was lashed with angry outbursts, violent arguments, alcohol-induced mayhem. My dad was an emotionally active volcano with occasional periods of dormancy. He had many vices. Alcohol, pornography, gambling, and illicit relationships with other women—all common knowledge in the small town where we lived.
Six years after I came to faith, and three years after my mom followed my lead, he agreed to go to church with us, but felt God could never forgive him for all he’d done. In that sixth year, my father was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because a business deal had gone awry and he was headed for court. But God dipped His pen in the inkwell and continued writing one of His best stories ever.
One day, in a panic, Dad drove 400 miles, from NC to PA, to try to find my mom who was at a business meeting. When he couldn’t find her, he stopped by a church and asked if the pastor was there. He needed prayer.
That particular pastor wasn’t there, but the receptionist sent him to another. She grabbed a scrap piece of paper and drew a map. “Why don’t you drive on over and find him? I bet he can help.”
Dad jumped back in his car and drove to a church out in the country where he found a man with a hammer in his hand and Jesus in his heart. For several hours, Dad sat with a fellow builder and told him all he had ever done. When my dad finished his confession, the pastor placed his strong arm around my dad’s shaking shoulders and said, “Now, Allan, let me tell you what I’ve done.”
The pastor pulled back the curtain on his own dark past and followed with the subsequent unfolding of forgiveness, redemption, and healing from Jesus.
The way my father explained it to me when he came home was: “That man told me his story. He had done everything I had done. And I knew that if God could forgive him and he could be a pastor, then he could forgive me too.”
That is the power of our story. The Bible tells us, “They triumphed over him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11 NIV). Think about that. Your story has so much power it is in the same sentence with the blood of the Lamb!
The words “testimony” and “to testify” in a spiritual sense mean to tell how you came to Christ or to speak about a specific work that God has done in your life. It’s not hearsay but a verbal display of what you experienced firsthand. Your testimony is your story.
What turned him around that day in the woods of Pennsylvania? Well, for sure and for certain it was the power of the Holy Spirit that quickened his dead spirit to life. But there was something more. Because this pastor wasn’t ashamed of his story—he wasn’t afraid to tell about his past—Dad saw the healing, forgiving, grace-filled power of Jesus up close and personal. His gaping wounds met the balm of grace through a man who was willing to reveal the most despicable parts of his own story, and how God forgave him. Dad had finally met a man just like him.
Your story is living proof of Jesus’ redemptive power here on earth. Click & Tweet! When we are not ashamed of our stories but tell how God redeemed our deepest, darkest, dirtiest places, we give hope to desperate sojourners who feel all alone. Suddenly, Jesus isn’t just a man in a book or a face in a painting. He is real.
God, help me to never be ashamed to tell my story but use what You’ve done in my life to help other people see Jesus. In His Name I pray, Amen.
In 2-4 sentences, share how God has taken a difficult part of your story, healed the broken places, and then used it for good in your life or in someone else’s life. Click comment and let’s share.
What if your worst chapters could become your greatest victories? I know that they can! Check out my latest release, When You Don’t Like Your Story and see how your messy pages can be transformed into beautiful masterpieces. Learn how the worst parts of your story, once healed, can be what God uses most. Let’s not waste the pain of our past, but use it to help others see Jesus.
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