I'm usually hesitant when I must speak or write about myself. I often wonder if there's enough significance in my testimony to make it worth telling. I don't do great things. I live, breathe, eat, and sleep. I'm an average, normal person. My desire is for someone to be inspired by my testimony. I pray nobody will be offended. Either way, here goes...
I was born into a Christian home. My father was a minister. Some of my fondest memories are of time spent in Sunday School. I'll never forget Sis. Cooper, my Sunday School teacher when I was between ten and twelve years old. Growing up in the sixties as a preacher's kid wasn't a popular thing to do. I had a sense, even as a child, of being a bulls-eye. Yes, I was ridiculed and made fun of because my father was a preacher.
I gave my heart to the Lord as an eight-year-old March 15, 1969. I promised God I would go anywhere and do anything he asked if he would save me. Please allow me to insert some advice. Never make a promise to God you don't intend to keep. God keeps track of every word we speak. I spent the years of my youth being around pastors and evangelists. I emulated them often while playing.
My father became disenchanted with the church I grew up attending and changed not only churches, but denominations when I was 16. My new pastor recognized the call to the ministry God placed on me and began developing me as an evangelist. My father, again became disenchanted with this church and left church altogether. Blood is thicker than water, so I followed in the footsteps of my father.
A couple years passed and I returned to the church I grew up in. I got married and moved across the state. The pastor of the church we attended recognized the call of God and began developing the preacher in me. God began dealing with me and I began sensing the direction he wanted me to take. I rejected God's calling and went on the run. I stayed away from church for the next 20 years. My wife kept attending, along with my children, but I refused to go with them.
I started a new job in April 2005 and broke my hip in June. Surgery was necessary to repair the hip. The operation took place August 4, 2005. I spent two days in the hospital. Once home, I made everyone's life as miserable as mine. I spent most of my time stuck in a chair. Getting up and moving around proved to be difficult and extremely painful.
Believe me when I say God will put you in a position where you can't get away and you'll listen to him. I began questioning God as to what he was doing with me being stuck in that chair. You can call this what you want to, but the terminology I'll use is dreaming. I had fallen asleep while questioning God! I found myself sitting next him on the second pew in the right side of the church I grew up in. We affectionately named it the “Weaver pew”. I watched an eight-year-old boy pray the words, “Lord, if you'll save me and fill me with your Spirit, I'll go anywhere you ask me to go and I'll do anything you ask me to do.” I turned to the Lord sitting next to me and asked, “Now what?” He answered, “I've come to collect on your promise.” I woke up.
I began studying the Bible again, but I refused to attend church until April 2006. God works in mysterious ways. I walked into a church in the beginning stages of a split. I couldn't help but ask God why he wanted me there at such a time. God informed me I had a unique perspective concerning this particular church dispute resulting from growing up in and around the ministry. “But Lord, it's not my fight!” I argued. Because of my experience with my father and his reasons for leaving and disdaining the church, I understood how to proceed in this church battle. God acknowledged the conflict belonged to him and he placed me in this church, at this time, because I knew how to fight this battle. Two years passed before the effects of the clash lessened their grip on the church. The church is larger now than before the split.
I lost my job in November 2008. I could draw unemployment so I wasn't worried. I vowed to God if he took care of us I would spend all my time working for him. I told him I intended to make the devil so angry he (the devil) would send me back to work. (I think he did. I worked a job which lasted 2 months in 2009, getting laid off again!) The Lord laid something on my heart in December 2008. I sensed him telling me to feed people. This wasn't a call to preach. God was telling me to feed people with real food. I'm laid off and God's telling me to feed people!
I hemmed and hawed about feeding people until May 2009. I started a food ministry at church. I didn't understand what God was doing when I started, but I was being obedient to what he asked me to do. Doors of opportunity to preach began opening. I sensed feeding the hungry and preaching were linked, but I still didn't understand.
We had a man in town offer a dozen turkeys for the food ministry. We put together Thanksgiving baskets and had a local organization send families to the church to receive them. My wife and I handed out the food the evening of November 24, 2009. Our lives have been dramatically changed as a result of this one evening. She left me in the vestibule of the church by myself, disappearing somewhere to cry. Staring directly into the eyes of brokenness is heart-wrenching. If we were doing something good, why did it hurt so much?
I spent two hours that evening one-on-one with the Lord. My heart had been ripped out of me. I didn't understand, so I went to the Lord in prayer. God spoke to me in the stillness of the night. I had seen the ones we gave the food to through the eyes of Christ. God let me witness what he sees. God let me experience what he feels. I learned at that moment what it truly means to love the lost. I learned at that moment the deep love God has for humanity. I no longer fear to tell people about the Lord. No matter where I'm at or what I'm doing, I remain sensitive to the leading of the Lord when the opportunity arises to proclaim the Gospel. The call to preach is one thing, but the reward is sharing the Gospel one-on-one with people.
Remember I wrote earlier about being careful as to the promises you make to God? My life came full-circle on October 25, 2009. God granted me the opportunity to return to the church where I grew up, to preach the Sunday morning message. I was blessed to stand in the exact spot I stood as an eight-year-old making that promise. I now look forward to the days and years ahead as an employee of the Almighty God. I have no idea as to where or what I'll be doing even just a couple of months from now. God's already been in my future. I'll walk with him into my tomorrows and I'll share the news of a Savior who is here to seek and save all who will turn to him.
This is an intense testimony. I was moved by every word. When I tend to ignore God I picture Him throwing bricks at me to get through my hardheadedness. I suspect you felt a brick or two being tossed lovingly in your direction.
Thank you so much for sharing this emotional story with me. It helps me better understand the true you. I feel so fortunate that we have stumbled upon each other at FW
This piece moved me to tears.
How can you tell when God's calling is upon you?
-You want to run and hide, and it seems illogical, irrational, and doesn't make sense to our small minds.
This is a nicely written testimony. It's powerful, honest, and inspiring.
Notes: You might want to revisit paragraph 6, which seems a little disjointed, when the rest of the piece flows so very smoothly. I think the sentence about "the reason I broke my hip is another story" threw me. Maybe leave it out, or rephrase it?
Also, in paragraph 8, you use 'fight' many times. Perhaps this is an emphasis, but you can more powerfully emphasize the battle, conflict, clash, struggle, etc. by using synonyms.
Thank You, for sharing your testimony, which was indeed, inspiring. I hope someday to be brave enough to share mine. (sneek preview: raised by an athiest and a budhist...)
Your testimony was not only encouraging, I was in awe at your experience of seeing the lost through God's eyes.
God bringing you back to that same church, so many years later to preach, gave me goosebumps.
I so enjoy your humbleness in your openness. Thank you for sharing.