Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Stories Behind the Testimonies

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 10 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)

We all love a good testimony. It's so wonderful as followers of Christ to see how others got to where they are today. To see how God has made a tremendous impact on their life. To see the miracles that we are waiting on actually come true for others. What we don't see are all of the stories behind each testimony. The stories on how each person went through different trials and tests to be who they are today. The stories of hardship that God used to truly shape their lives. It's nice to see the end result. However, if you're like me and you're waiting for that awe-factor to come through in your testimony, you want to hear how these believers pulled through when it was tough. Knowing that others are going through or have gone through a test or a trial helps me know that it's possible to pass this test with flying colors.

In Chapter 10, Testimony Begins with T-E-S-T, Joyce Meyer talks about the importance of our testimonies and how "no one ever has a testimony without a test." (page 142) I love how on page 142 Joyce also reminds us that "everything God permits us to go through will ultimately be good for us..." I take a lot of comfort in knowing that through this all, God is here with me and as long as I let Him, He will guide me through each of these tests. He has the answers for me. If I study (the Bible) for my tests/trials, I will be able to soar right through them. If not, I will struggle just to make it through the end of the test.

I think back on the past 7 years of my life and all of the tests and trials that I've encountered since then. I can see how these tests/trials have made me who I am today. In chapter 10, Joyce shares with us the five most common tests that we will face throughout our lives.

The "Get Over It" Test
If we're all honest, this is a hard test to pass. This is the test where you can get over it quickly when someone hurts your feelings or offends you. Forgiveness is the key to passing this test. How hard it is though to forgive and forget when someone offends us autism moms. I've heard countless stories on how friends have been told that they need to discipline their children with autism better, how we need to just love them more, how they need to apologize for something they have no idea what they've done wrong and one of my personal favorites the way friends and family can make us feel when they are doubting our decisions of diet, biomedical, therapies and vaccinations. I feel offended with this and I will be the first to admit, I have a hard time forgiving. Sure I'm nice to them but as soon as I get a chance to prove how wrong they are, I do. I know instead I need to forgive and move on. I love the prayer that Joyce included in this section on page 146...."God, I choose to believe the best. My feelings are hurt, but You can heal me. I refuse to be bitter; I refuse to be angry; I refuse to be offended." Joyce goes on and explains how we as Christians must be good at forgiving and how this is something we will be doing for a long time. I think that forgiveness does a lot for a person. I know when I forgive someone I honestly don't think about the situation anymore. I move on. I'm not consumed with hurt or worry or anything else that may be keeping me from doing what God needs for me to be doing in that moment. It's amazing how truly freeing it can feel to forgive even the littlest comment that offends us.

The "Judas Kiss" Test
This test goes back to the story of Judas' betrayal with a kiss to Jesus. This is how Judas revealed who Jesus is. Joyce mentions how this tests happens in a lot of churches where pastors spend a lot of time training, mentoring and ministering to young men in their congregation to help them grow. Only to have these men leave the church and take some of the members with them. I'll be honest with you, I don't think I've had this test in my life before. Have you? If so, please share with us in the comments section. I'd love to learn more about this test. Maybe I need to see if from a different angle to see that I have truly already taken this test.

The "Motive" Test
On page 149, Joyce says "I like to define a motive as 'the why behind the what'. A motive is the reason we do what we do. We often say we are doing things for God, but sometimes we do not understand why we do them." I really enjoyed reading about this test. I know that sounds odd but it really made me think about different things that I do in life and why I do it. You see, I am a people pleaser. I care what others think, I worry about what others think and I will strap myself volunteering for things to the point where I am utterly exhausted to make others happy. Here, Joyce taught me to stop and ask myself "why am I doing this" with just about everything I agree to. Then I will know if I am truly doing this for God or am I doing this because of status or to make others think better of me. You see, if we're doing it to help others that is good but it has got to be from God. Each time I agree to drop off a dinner to someone who is sick, volunteer at school or church or anything else I'm going to stop and ask the questions that Joyce wrote on page 150. I encourage you to do the same. I'll bet we find ourselves with a lot of free time that God will need.

The "Loving The Unlovely" Test
This is truly a hard test but I love this test. I have several of these kind of people in my life. It's hard to hold a conversation with them. It's hard to wrap ourselves around them so that they can feel the love of Jesus. But you know what? I was one of these people at one point in my life. Fortunately for me, I had a true friend who "loved the unlovely" and showed me Jesus. That's what we need to keep remembering. When the test gets really tough, pray that He will show us how we can help this particular person and what we can do to show His love.

The "Test of Time"
When I first read the title of this section, I thought Joyce was going to talk about the "everything happens according to his timing" idea. Then I realized it was something even bigger. It's the test of how long we will be faithful to God. A day? A week here and there? An hour? What will our answers be for this test? I'm going to strive for my entire life. I know that through this "Test of Time" there will be all of the tests mentioned above. To me, it's worth it. I know that He is with me and I know that He is shaping my life into the life He needs it to be. If I get distracted during these tests and I'm not answering correctly, I'll pick myself back up again and keep taking the tests until I pass with flying colors.

I think about all of the tests that we, as autism moms, face on a daily basis. I know it's hard. I know it's scary. I also know it's very rewarding. I know that God sees all of our struggles, our dedications and our faith in Him. I also know that one day our God is going to look at us and say "Well done my good and faithful servant." Matthew 25:23

Thank you for this wonderful chapter and incredible book. Thank you for bringing us all together on this blog to help learn more about You and how we can do better for You. I pray that You will help us all be strong during our times of testing. Help us know the right answers to these tests so that we can go through them quickly and grow to be the person You need us to be.
In Your Name we pray,

Bible Verses
These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold––and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. -1 Peter 1:7

Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and affections. -Psalm 26:2

[God says], do not fear, for I am with you;do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you;I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10


Chrissy said...

I feel like I'm being tested right now! Thanks so much for this great post, Nicole. God is so good to give us the lessons we need at exactly the right time.

Rose said...

The "Get Over it Test" is one I really struggle with. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.