I was brought up in a Christian family and as a consequence for a long time used to think that I didn’t have what other people called ‘a testimony’. My story seemed boring, even inconsequential, to the point that I doubted whether my relationship with Jesus was something of my own doing – it seemed more likely to be a series of morals and lifestyle choices which I had inherited from my parents. But over the past few months, I’ve begun to realise that this is not, in fact, true.
I suppose my testimony is rather back to front. I think it starts, rather than ends, with my decision to be baptised. This I took when I was about fourteen. It was my choice, had no direct link to my parents – they didn’t suggest it, or push for it. I understood who Jesus was, the evidence seemed legitimate, and, if I’m honest, it seemed like the obvious thing to do. In other words, my ‘relationship’ with Jesus was based entirely on my cold understanding of both his character and my sociological awareness of what was required of me.
So I was baptised in front of the church in which I had spent most of my youth. God then did something for which I have only recently been able to thank him. He allowed the happiness and satisfaction that life had unto that point been giving me to fail. A few months later, the night of my birthday, literally overnight, the world seemed to have been plunged into utter darkness. There was no joy, no point, no light. I couldn’t understand it – I thought something had gone wrong in me.
And if I’m honest, it had, but it was not what I thought. I spent the next four years flitting from utter despair to average melancholy. It was horrible and something I would not wish upon anyone, other than it forced me to turn to the person, to the God, I professed would satisfy my soul. In effect, what God did was take me at my word. He allowed me to fall into a situation which so completely, incomprehensibly dark and hopeless that I must turn to him, turn to his revelation of his character in his son and scriptures. My pride and vanity, my superficiality were laid bare before me. And eventually, I began to realise that I had put my hope and trust for fulfilment in transient, unresponsive objects, concepts and mortals. What I had to learn, and still do, was that my hope and my joy and my satisfaction come not from things I have earned, things I can see and touch, but from my identity as a daughter of the Most High God who has suffered agony and death to win back my soul. And this is a hope which will not disappoint, a love which will never fail, a peace which surpasses all knowledge.
‘I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.’