Everyone has a story. The stories of Christ-followers center on how they encountered Jesus. For a Christian, his or her story (aka "testimony," "My God Story," "witness") cannot, if it is to be true, be told without Him.
Paul, while openly debating himself on which is better - life or death - wrote, "to live is Christ." (See Philippians 1.)
Believers live for Jesus. Perfectly? No. Yet, believers seek to live for Christ in the knowledge that "to live is Christ."
I share with you now a portion of my story and I do so geographically.
El Paso, Texas
I was born in William Beaumont Army Medical Center. By God's grace, my mom and dad were (and are)
Birmingham, Alabama - After brief layovers somewhere in Missouri and Tacoma, Washington
Preschool. Kindergarten. A family and a church family who loved me.
By the grace of God, my older sisters told my parents which church they enjoyed best out of two; and my parents chose the same. Therefore, God used a great woman of faith (the children's pastor) to join the encouragement of my parents and grandparents, by explaining "How To Be A Christian." Their devotion was coupled with the heart of a senior pastor who loved children as Jesus does. I confessed (quietly), "Jesus is Lord" before he plunged me beneath the water and he "raised me up to the newness of eternal life" and continued, along with my parents, grandparents, children's pastor, and Sunday School teachers to guide me in God's ways.
For the next ten years, I encountered Jesus. Then one day, while listening to our senior pastor preach, God sent me a message - "You are called to do that." "That" referred to preaching.
While serving as a youth minister, working on two degrees, and learning how to love my wife as Christ loves the church (She makes that rather easy for me to do. Thank you, Babe!), I continued to encounter Jesus.
Six and one half years of pastoring. Birth of my daughter and first son. Viewing God's beauty daily. Adjusting to "below freezing" and learning that working "on the slope" didn't refer to the ski patrol. Encountering Jesus.
Three years of pastoring. Birth of my second son. Deep friendships. Adjusting (back) to 100 + degrees. Realizing that my state of birth, while great, was not the home for my heart. Encountering Jesus.
Nine and one half years of pastoring and, with the grace of God, many more to come. Adjusting (back) to "below freezing." Deep friendships. A church full of encouragers. A pastoral team who loves Jesus and each other. An amazing wife and three great kids. Encountering Jesus on a daily basis. I am home. Well . . . sorta . . .
My story, thanks to encountering Jesus, is eternally growing better.
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)
Everyone has a story. God uses ordinary people with ordinary stories. This is my story. What is your story?