“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”Psalm 139:16
For the first few years after I gave my life to Jesus, I was embarrassed of my testimony. I grew up going to church. When I was thirteen, my gran gave me a christian novel as a leaving present because we were moving from Johannesburg to Cape Town. While I was reading the book, I was led to kneel beside my bed and officially acknowledge Jesus as my Lord and saviour. I would sit at church, listening to testimonies of people who were radically saved out of multitudes of sin and destruction and I couldn’t understand how my testimony could ever match up; after all, the sin and destruction in my life before Jesus was far from multitudinous. Whenever I was asked to share my testimony, I’d exaggerate things about my life, like being a victim of divorce… Whatever I could do to spruce up my testimony. I had it so wrong.
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and give myself this advice:
Everyone needs Jesus.
I had it in my mind that I hadn’t been sinful enough to warrant salvation. I had convinced myself that different sins called for different levels of grace; that I was a good and innocent person who didn’t need much forgiveness. I had fallen into a dangerous, self-righteous trap. The reality is that we all fall short of the glory of God, we all need Jesus to stand in the gap for us, to make us righteous. Regardless of how good a person you may be, it is through Jesus that God brings His work in us to completion.
Your story is the exact definition of grace.
I had defined grace as “the amount of forgiveness needed to cover the sins you have piled against you.” I completely negated the true definition of grace… “undeserved favour.” I didn’t deserve the favour that showered over me that evening in my bedroom. I didn’t deserve to meet Jesus while I was still “young and innocent”. I didn’t deserve Jesus stepping in to protect me from what could have been a future of multitudinous sin and destruction. I didn’t deserve the title of Princess Kirst, daughter of the King of Kings. I didn’t deserve any of it, yet He met me there, He called me His own, He wiped my slate clean and He began a good work in me. The way I see it, He knew he needed to take a little bit longer to complete the work in me, so he got a bit of a head start.
His grace is sufficient for you.
I know some of you may be reading this going, “what is this chick on about? I wish I didn’t have to go through everything I went through before I met Jesus.” I know, I’ve heard it, and I apologise for my insensitivity, but I won’t apologise about your story and I’m done apologising about my own. 2 Corinthians 12:9 quotes the Lord saying “My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.” God has given your story to you… a story that will work together for good, a story that will impact others, a story that will never be beyond grace. I’ve come to learn that our different stories are all just part of one much more incredible story. This story began before existence and it has been and will keep on developing into eternity… The story of sufficient grace and of a future and a hope.
Your story is not about you.
This was my biggest problem. Who was I to compare His work in me with the way He works in someone else? When a great novel is written, the accolades go to the author, not the characters. When a great screenplay is written, does the Oscar go to the character? No, it goes to the one who created, developed and wove the character into a masterpiece of a story. Oh, the nonsense I could have avoided had I come to realise sooner, in my heart of hearts, that sharing my testimony, the story of Jesus’ work in me, had nothing to do with me. God has and is writing my story to be read by others; He chose which genre, which audience, which time to write it for it to have its greatest impact.
Don’t let the prologue dictate your story.
I spent so much time trying to make my “before Jesus” level up to that of others, missing the fact that when Jesus enters our stories, He is our level up. I had missed the point of sharing our testimonies, I think a lot of us do. So often, when I’ve heard someone share their testimony, they spend 90% of the time describing their lives before Jesus and cramming anything after Jesus into the remaining 10%. The truth is that our stories actually only begin when Jesus comes into our lives… Anything before that was merely the prologue. The core of our stories should be the work, the life, the freedom, the strength, the undeserved favour that Jesus brings into our lives. What happens before, or how, we meet Jesus is not nearly as important as what happens in our lives after.