The “God Bless You Testimony Service”……whose idea was this? I’d love to know who thought it would be a great idea to ambush an unsuspecting mid-week service congregant and ask him or her to jump up and say something insightful and heartwarming with their only warning being “God bless you, Sis. Johnson”. (I don’t know, but I believe it was probably the same person who invented that old clap-clap, snap-snap rhythm game they used to torture us with at Lamplighters Club when I was twelve.)
I never did so much shoe tying as I did at the old Pence Street Church of God on Tuesday nights back in the sixties. It’s funny how it worked out. About the time one old sister would wind down her testimony and was about to say “God bless you (whoever)” to the next victim, my shoe needed to be tied again.
It’s not that I had nothing to be thankful for. I certainly did. But when you’re a kid, a shy kid at that, the last thing you want is all eyes on you while you fluster your way through a pathetic attempt at a testimony. There were a few times I actually got caught between shoe string maintenance and unnecessary trips to the bathroom, and had to stand up and say…..something. Ugh.
I didn’t mind hearing other people testify, usually. Some people could hold you spellbound with their enthusiastic stories of God’s deliverance in times of trouble. I’d rather hear Sister Wallace testify than most preachers preach any day. Others spent most of their “testimony” telling how the devil had had them on the run all week long, and sometimes I wondered if he was waiting for them just outside the door when church was over to chase them some more. Mom used to recount a story of one elderly lady’s fiery testimony that was simply a line from a song….“When I first found Jesus, something o’er me stole. Like LIGHTNING it went through me and glory filled my soul.”
Everyone had their own style, and as a kid I thought I understood what a testimony was.
For years I traveled and sang with one group or another. I’m comfortable that way. I like it when someone else sets up the date, plans the program and does the talking. I just wanna sing. But now I’ve been a soloist for several years and I’ve always struggled with “my testimony”. What is it?
I’ve seen crowds throng to hear how a young person raised in church could walk away from the Lord and everything they’ve known to wind up on skid row. People salivate over a juicy story of a teenager’s downward slide into drugs and alcohol and back again. They turn out in droves to hear the scintillating details of a minister’s infidelity and a marriage gone bad that’s miraculously healed. People flock to hear testimonies of deliverance from abuse and neglect. It’s only human nature to be intrigued by those things.
I often wondered, what can I tell anyone that they would find interesting? My testimony is comparatively boring. I’ve never been on drugs. I’ve never been an alcoholic or lived a life of prostitution. I don’t have spine-tingling tales of years spent deep in sin. I’m a church kid….and although I haven’t always done what I should, I’ve never strayed too far from the old path. My mother’s voice has always been the voice in my head, and the Bible she taught me the voice in my heart.
I’ve come to realize that although I’ll never pack out an auditorium waiting to hear my stories of sin and regret, I DO have a testimony. When I was just a little kid my mom and dad dedicated me to the Lord…..literally gave me up to God and His will, and God has honored their gesture. “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
My testimony is one of God’s keeping power. When I think of all He has kept me from, all the grief and regret He has spared me, all the times his hand of protection has been on me, I can’t help but think of an old camp meeting song, “Oh, I Just Can’t Thank Him Enough.”
You know, sometimes preservatives are a good thing!
God Bless You………(put your name here)!!