By: Vivian Wilson
I had the privilege of giving my testimony to a group of women last Saturday. For many years I had a narrow concept of what “giving your testimony” meant. I thought it was limited to one’s “salvation” experience. After living these sixty-six years and walking with God for half of my life now, I understand that a testimony to God’s presence in my life is much more that just one event.
I have a story.You have a story. Everyone has a story. While my story may lack drama or seem mundane to some, it may be just what someone needs to hear at that moment. A testimony is defined as evidence based on observation or knowledge. Our testimony can help someone find what he has been looking for when everything he has tried has left him empty and unsatisfied. It can encourage those who feel alone, who feel that no one can possibly understand, those who are discouraged, or those who need to have the flame of hope rekindled in their heart.
When I was praying about giving my testimony, what I would say, I realized I had many choices. There wasn’t just one moment when God’s presence was evident in my life. I have stories to tell about His presence, yes, but I also have stories to tell about His forgiveness, His love, His grace, His patience, His compassion, His provision, His guidance, His protection, and His faithfulness to name a few. Testimonies are powerful because they aren’t about us, they are about a loving God, who by grace, uses them to touch the lives of others.
I just realized that maybe some of you are expecting me to relate to you what I told the ladies on Saturday. Though I hadn’t intended to, I feel prompted to. So…here is the short version.
In March of 2010, the dark days began. My husband of 43 years left me. His mother had been living with us for ten years. So I was left to take care of here in here failing health. A year later my parents came to live with me so I could take care of them as well. Dad has Alzheimer’s. My mother had a stroke in 2012, which left her unable to express herself well. It is difficult to understand her words at times. She fell causing a concussion which resulted in a hemorrhage. She had surgery to put a shunt in her brain. In the middle of all of this my mother-in-law passed away.
It didn’t happen all at once. It wasn’t intentional. But from March of 2010, until May of 2012, I drifted away from God. It had been my custom since 1985, to faithfully read God’s word and pray every morning. I began to miss days, then weeks, and then months of my “quiet time”.
One day I had lunch with and old friend. Gail is the friend that we all have, though you don’t see each other often, when you are together it seems like it was only yesterday when you last talked. She listened to my story about the last months and when I finished she said, “You know what you need to do don’t you”. I knew. She didn’t have to tell me. I knew I needed to spend time with God. So I promised her I would. I knew if I made the promise to her, then I would do it.
The following morning I got up early to meet with my Heavenly Father. I know what the prodigal son must have felt like. Let me share with you what I wrote in my journal that morning and three days later.
May 24, 2012 You have not abandoned me, Father, it is I who have abandoned you for these many months. I have tried to do it on my own–manage this difficult season in my life–and it hasn’t worked out so well. I have no joy, no peace, and I feel lonely and alone. Thank you for your patience, your love, your grace and mercy, your constant presence.
May 27, 2012 Father, you have given me so much, my home, my wonderful family, the respect of others, and so much more, and yet I have ignored, been indifferent to you, spurned your love–I have sinned against you. You have given me so much, done so much for me, and if all this had been too little, you would have given me more. How ungrateful and selfish I have been. Father, forgive me. Oh, Father, draw me to yourself, hold me, love me in such a way that I experience your presence in the depth of my being.
I went into the kitchen, Dad was up. As I was getting his coffee, I experienced an overwhelming sense of God”s presence in “the depth of my being”. There was a feeling in my heart that I can say could only have been caused by God’s embrace. I shed tears of joy because of his grace and love for me.
This is just one part of the story of my life. It is a testimony to God’s grace and patience and how he used a friend to encourage me to turn back to him and receive his love and forgiveness. Let’s tell our stories. They are powerful in the hands of God.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.
A work in progress,