This week’s post is a throw back to one we ran in late January of last year, but I believe the message is one we all need to hear again as we embark on a new year. By Stacey Kuszak
Are you a person who makes New Year’s resolutions?
I used to be a devout resolution setter. Right before the new year I would take stock of my life and make a list of everything I needed to improve. Everything—from my weight, to my time-management, my marriage, my kids, my relationship with God, my kids’ relationship with God, my eating habits, the cleanliness of my house, my lack of organization, my need to read through the entire Bible in a year—you name it, I was changing it.
Except really, I wasn’t.
By late January each year I would start slipping in my resolve, and before I knew it I was in a sad cycle of defeat. I couldn’t change. It was too hard. It required too much. Surely God saw me for what I really was–a quitter.
Are you a quitter?
My friends, that is a lie that the enemy would love for you to believe. That you’re a failure, you’ll never measure up, you’ll never get your act together. God never calls you a quitter. He calls you His masterpiece . . . . He calls you a conqueror. . . . He calls you an overcomer.
But these titles don’t come as a result of our work, our effort, our resolve, our willpower, or our New Year’s resolutions.
Those titles come only through the life-changing work of the Holy Spirit in you. They come through your belief that Christ died on the cross for you—that the work is finished.
What if, instead of listing out at the beginning of a year all the ways we fall short and all our plans to self-improve, what if we just admitted our weakness? What if we were brave enough to turn our chairs toward each other and tell our shortcomings—to speak them out loud?
There is a term we use quite frequently in Christian circles. It’s called a testimony. When we testify about something, we are offering proof or evidence that something exists.
When we share testimonies here at church it is often in the context of how we became a believer or how God is working in our life. If you have trusted Christ as your savior, then you have a testimony. I would say even if you haven’t trusted Christ as savior, you still have a testimony because God is already at work in your life. You simply may not be aware of it yet.
When is the last time you thought about your testimony? Have you ever written it out? Do you remember who you were before you encountered Christ? Are you aware of, even today, the ways in which God is transforming you?
You may be asking yourself at this point what New Year’s resolutions have to do with your testimony. I would say everything. They are two different stories by two different authors.
The first is a story of self: self-improvement, self-focus, self-rule. The author is usually our adversary who leads us down a slippery slope of defeat, pride, and control. The other story is the story of Christ’s transformational work in our lives—our testimony. We are not the author of that story. In fact, it’s not really our story. It’s His.
And unlike a neat list of goals and aspirations, His story is often revealed through the broken, the ugly, the messy, the heartbreaking, the life-changing, the disappointment.
So often we don’t know the story behind the women we encounter here each week. We look at each other and think she has always been close with God. She always has her act together. Man, I can tell she is good at New Year’s resolutions. It’s important to tell our stories, to tell of the work that God has done and is doing in each of us.
As we study the truth of His word together on Tuesday mornings, we begin to recognize the truth of our stories. His word reveals His plans to transform us. His word reveals the story He is writing about you.
When we tell our stories, we are telling the story of who God is. Our testimonies reveal what He is like. Shauna Neiquist in her book Bittersweet says this,
“There’s nothing small or inconsequential about our stories. There is, in fact, nothing bigger. And when we tell the truth about our lives—the broken parts, the secret parts, the beautiful parts—then the gospel comes to life, an actual story about redemption, instead of abstraction and theory.”
Sometimes you hear a person’s story and you think—that’s nice, or that’s hard, or wow, I’m glad that’s not me! And then years later you realize a piece of their story has been woven into yours. Perhaps the wisdom from your heartache, your brokenness, your mess has woven itself into the fabric of someone else’s story. That is why we need to tell our stories.
I came across this verse recently in Revelation 12:11:
“They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
This verse is talking about the defeat of Satan. He is defeated first and foremost by Christ’s death on the cross—“by the blood of the lamb.” The second part of that verse says “by the word of their testimony.” Every time we tell the story of God’s work in our lives we are defeating Satan.
Let me say that again. Every time we tell the story of God’s work in our lives, we are defeating Satan.
He is out to destroy your story. He wants to give you a list of do’s and dont’s. He wants you to try to master your life perfectly, and then he wants to call you a quitter.
But you are an overcomer. You have a story. You have a testimony. You have a powerful God who is rewriting the story of your life. You have a conquering God who is writing His story through your life. I hope you believe it, and I hope you tell it.