I’m a preacher’s kid and proud of it. I was in church a few days after being born, gave my life to Jesus on my 8th birthday, was always active in youth group and other church activities; when it came time to go to college, I set off to Great Lakes Christian College to become a pastor. It was there I began to encounter a much broader community of Christians than I ever had before.
One guy had been healed of a brain tumor. One girl was recuperating from drugs; another guy came to Jesus after a failed suicide attempt. Another went from having his mind and body thrashed by drugs to becoming one of the most hardworking Hebrew and Greek students at the school. Each of their stories and testimonies left listeners desiring to know God better and in awe of who God was and what He could do in the lives of those who came to Him.
But listening to their testimonies also created or exposed an insecurity in me, an idea that my testimony was generally boring; having grown up in church all my life, never getting in with the bad crowd or doing bad things, and just being a generally nice boy, I felt my story was too boring or simple to be a blessing to those listening. This insecurity also seemed justified when I began noticing that churches and ministries never had a believer share their testimony with an audience unless it was impressive. Realizing my story didn’t have this inspirational “wow” factor, I just felt insignificant. On one occasion, when everyone in a group was asked to give their testimony, I vaguely exaggerated a detail to make my story seem a little bit cooler or significant; it wasn’t.
But that all changed one night in a guy’s meeting where we took turns each week giving our testimony. I just told my story as it was, straightforward and simple. Per the custom, the other guys prayed over me when I was finished; when a close friend and brother prayed, his words reached deep into my heart. He said “Thank You, Father, for saving Jon from what could have been.”
I have never looked down on my story since.
A year later I was working at a youth camp and got to share this lesson with a young camper who was experiencing that same challenge. On the last night of camp, he blessed us all with his simple and significant story.
Ascertaining your own value and significance is difficult to discern at times because it takes time to dig through layers of insecurity or other value systems we interact with each day, but if we can get to the heart of the matter, what it often comes down to is the simple truth that you are loved. I know that phrase gets tossed out there tiredly these days, but that’s likely a reflection of how many of us are in need of its reality. We are not loved because we are valuable; we are valuable because God loves us. Our lives, identities, and potential are something of a self-portrait of who He is; it is in the appreciation of that portrait we discover the significant story we have to tell.
Are you able to see yourself as God sees you? Are you letting that reality shape yours? If you know the tale you’ve got to tell, don’t keep it to yourself.