Titles or Testimonies?

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

“You’re going to die, and they’re going to drop you in a hole, and then they’re going to throw dirt in your face, and go back to the church and eat potato salad.” These were the sobering words of best selling Christian author Tony Campolo’s pastor to a group of graduating seniors, who were getting a little caught up in their accomplishments and all the future held for them. The pastor concluded his remarks asking them, “Will you live for titles or testimonies?” and noted, “There was Moses, and there was Pharaoh. Pharaoh had the title - Ruler of Egypt. That's a good title - Ruler of Egypt. Moses, on the other hand, had no power, but when it was over, Pharaoh may have had the title, but Moses had the testimony! There was Daniel and there was Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was King of Babylon. Good title – King, but when it was over, that's all he had. He had the title, but Daniel (who emerged unscathed from the lion’s den) had the testimony!”

Do you live for titles or testimonies? Let me be the first to confess the former, in my former life. I lived for the titles – president of that organization, captain of the team, company leader in that category. I aimed high for accolades and attaboys. I sacrificed what was truly important (too often my personal relationships) for a false sense of self-importance, and when it all came tumbling down, there was only a broken me trying to pick up all the broken pieces. I painfully discovered that when I no longer performed or in some cases couldn’t perform, because of injury or illness, my value to the organization, team, company, etc. was devalued, and my self-esteem and feelings of worth plummeted. I struggled with depression and feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. My low lows were lower than my high highs and the organizations, teams, companies, etc. replaced me quicker than you can say, “And the award goes to…”

I was thinking about this recently when one of the ladies in our church gave her personal testimony. She spoke of her faith in God despite the fact that she has had more than her fair share of setbacks. She praises God for every breath despite her hindered breathing following lung surgery. She gives thanks for every heartbeat in her chest despite her diagnosis of breast cancer. She regularly posts on social media the pride she has for her autistic child, and ‘testified,’ “When God’s with you, you’ll get through it. It might be a white knuckle ride, but you’ll get there.” “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you,” she quotes from Deuteronomy, “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

To my knowledge she doesn’t have a fancy title, only important ones like nurse, mother, wife and Christian. She also has something much greater, a testimony about the faithfulness of her God and security in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us we are to set apart Jesus in our hearts, and to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope we have. In other words, we are to have a testimony. In the end that’s all she (and every one of us) needs. God bless.

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