O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; for God’s steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those God redeemed from trouble and gathered in. – Psalm 107:1-3
We don’t talk about testimony much in the more progressive branches of Christianity. One rarely “testifies” to the goodness of God in their lives within the confines of our churches.
We who are the “frozen chosen” prefer to leave that to other churches.
I didn’t learn about testimony from the church. I learned about it from people in recovery who told me their stories when I was newly sober. Again and again they told me about what their lives had been like, and how God had intervened. Rising up from rock bottom, leaning on the grace of God, they had built lives of meaning and purpose.
I needed those testimonies. I needed something to believe when it felt like God was so far away.
Without them, I don’t know what would have happened.
I sometimes wonder what testimonies the people in our pews need to hear. Do they need to hear someone say that there is life after the marriage implodes? Do they search for an assurance that chemo was hard for everyone else too? Do they long to know that everyone is a little afraid of growing older and depending on others more?
I think ministers should preach often and well, but I sometimes wonder if we need to loosen our grip on the pulpit from time to time. Maybe there are some testimonies that we need to step aside and let be heard. Maybe the redeemed of the Lord need to be able to “say so.”
There are as many stories of redemption as there are people surrounding you in the pews on Sunday.
Church should be a place where our stories are not hidden, but are shared for others to hear. God has given you a story to tell; do not be afraid to tell it.
God, you have redeemed me. Help me to tell my story, that through me you might redeem another.
Stillspeaking Small Group Discussion
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter (New Hampshire) and the author most recently of Courageous Faith: How to Rise and Resist in a Time of Fear.