Grace-Filled Sips: Our Christian Testimony over Coffee
Ephesians 2:10 CSB - For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
This weekend I was able to sit with two beautiful ladies to sip coffee and share our walk with Christ. Luckily for us, it was BOGO at the coffee house because each of us were experiencing areas in our walk that needed God’s remarkable grace to help us overcome and a hot cup of coffee to settle our emotions. As we revealed what was happening in our lives, it was not lost on me that we were talking out our testimony as it was happening, right now. God is in our testimony right now, working all things out. He is writing what we will share later as we are in it. His plan for us is so great but we often cannot see it being worked out because it is not in the realm of our understanding. 1 Samuel 2:2 shouts, “There is no one holy like the LORD. There is no one besides you! And there is no rock like our God” (CSB). The problem we run into when we try to see our story as it is being written is it probably is not being written like we have imagined in our very minute brains. We tend to not want to sit around and wait for the story to play out in God’s fashion so we try to put our own plan into place. Now the tale becomes a three -volume trilogy because we get in the way. when it could have been a quick bulleted account.
One very true, long, ugly story that I tried to control took place in a small town in central Nevada. It is one of the toughest stories for me to tell. It is a story that challenged my identity in human understandings and brought me so much closer to God when I understood His view of it. I could not even begin to see what was happening during events because I was so focused on controlling them. The events began as I was to interview as an elementary school principal in a town where traditions and practices were long standing. I was chosen to be part of this culture after a 2-day interview process. I felt it was a perfect fit for me and the staff seemed to agree. This was the beginning of my administrative career and I was sure I was going to be successful. I had prayed for this position and believed this was where God was leading me to go on the next step in my professional career. As the first year of employment moved on, I began to realize that this new community was not a fan of Susan Squires. I felt I was the same administrator I had been in my previous schools, I believed I was leading the way I had always led when I had been a “successful” administrator. I can’t put my finger on what happened, exactly, although I could point to a few details, but these didn’t seem to be the details that would cause and entire staff, and town, to dislike me. As the second year began, I realized this was not going to work out. What a jolt to my self-confidence and belief that I was doing the work God was calling me to. Eventually, mid-school year, I left with my tail between my legs while the whole town watched me pack up my home and drive out of the one stop sign town.
How could this possibly be part of God’s plan for my life? My identity, as I thought I knew it, was crushed. I was embarrassed and felt like a fool. Worst part was I had to head back to my home town and face the school district I left and look for another job, and I was sure I would not come back to an administrative position. This could not be a part of the testimony God was happy with. This could not be a piece I would share as encouragement to others that God works all things out for His glory, because I was a failure.
Enter the devil. He wanted me to stay in this scenario and wallow. He wanted me to sit around and feel sorry for myself and yell at God and tell Him how wrong He was to cause this to happen to me. The enemy wants us to flounder around in our mistakes so we cannot bring glory to a God who gives us grace in everything. He wants us to hide out in the sickness of what has happened in our lives rather than remembering that God’s plan is so great and He will make our story perfect in His perfection in Christ. Philippians 3:13 tells us, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,” (CBS). The Apostle Paul is telling us to not dwell on past sins and failures because it will distract us in the present. I believe this is why we need to see these past experiences as a grand part of our testimony and share them with others so they can see there is a way out through Christ alone.
Fast forward to the end of the story. God worked it all out for His good and without my help. He pointed me to the areas in my career I needed to work on. He opened my eyes to the type of administrator I wanted to be, rather than the one I thought others wanted. He placed me at a school where I was able to bring the Word of God to teachers, parents and students. He created Godly friendships for me and allowed me to see Him to such a degree and with such a passion I was able to enter my next career in honoring Him. This was a story He created and wanted me to share. This was not a failure. This was a chapter of encouragement to be shared with others. He planned it to happen this way and used it for His glory.
In response to my blog post last week, a reader questioned, “How do we share our testimony without it being a five-chapter book?” The answer to this question, I believe, is in understanding your story and being willing. We need to see clearly how He has put all the events and connections, trials and celebrations in place. What you choose to tell others about your testimony and faith depends on the situations God places you in. It may be you share your love of studying the Bible every morning because someone you know is wanting to learn more about Christ. It may be you impart your own cancer struggle to a friend who has just been diagnosed and now you can reveal how Christ helped you walk through surgery and chemo, and here you are with a full head of hair and feeling healthy.
Most of our testimonies about our walk with Christ are very detailed. Even those who were baptized young and have believed for a long time have great truths to disclose. No one’s story is so small it cannot be communicated and used for God’s goodness. Sometimes there are parts of our story that are difficult to disclose to others. These are the stories God has chosen to turn your life around and these are the narratives God needs you to use to help others know Him better.
You may have found there were instances in your life, or maybe you are in one now, which are really hard to understand or see God’s plan in. But, once it passes, or even in the very middle of it, and you are able to see the plan and His righteousness in it, it becomes a part of your story that will forever change you. He will change you in it! Then, this important change becomes a crucial part of what you share with others. Maybe today is the day you only share that one, uncomfortable, ugly account of God working in your life. If you do, I can almost guarantee, it will touch the person you share it with. Then, it will be used to bring a new Christian closer to Christ, or someone who has never considered Christ as Savior, to know only God can guide our path and give us true peace.
In order to be able to understand our testimony and communicate it clearly, it is important to take a good look at where you have been, where you are going and right where you are sitting today. All of the circumstances which have happened, will happen, and are happening, are part of the incredible story Jesus is crafting for you. He has an awe-inspiring plan for your life and continues to work on it each day. Where we come in is listening when He speaks and following when He asks us to go. Once we do this, we begin to the see the story He wants us to share with others.
Now is the time for you to begin sharing your testimony because now is the time God is working things out for you. You, the workmanship that God planned for ahead of time and it’s time to do your good works. (Ephesians 2:10 CSB)
Prayer: Lord, thank You for knowing me ahead of time. Thank You for your great plan, the plan that plays out in my life minute-by-minute. I pray You help me look for Your plan in all the circumstances taking place. I pray You help me to stay out of the way and allow Your plan to occur. Please, Lord, put people into my life whom I can share my story. Help me to see the areas of my story You want me to share and when You want me to share it. I pray my story becomes a light and a path to You alone.
Write down one part of your story. Maybe you just choose bullet points, or write it out as a narrative, whichever you choose consider the points that you tried to control and the points God was in control of. Ask God to place people in your path who need to hear this part of your testimony.