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The TEST in the Testimony

“I see Christ’s love is so kingly, that it will not abide a marrow it must have a throne all alone in the soul.”
~ Samuel Rutherford

So this past week I’ve lost 2 friends and one of them was also my pastor. Heartbreaking. Speechless. Needless to say, it’s been devastating and traumatic. You can’t help but ask, what’s going on and where do we go from here? Has anyone else felt like that? Am I the only one?

The Lord has been doing a deep work in Michelle and me for many years. It didn’t start with the most recent losses or even with the loss of our daughter a year ago. It’s been a process that has stretched us beyond our abilities. That being said, He has used this time to take us deeper than we’ve ever been. That’s who He is and that’s what He does.

One of those areas that He has put His finger on in my life through this season is the reality that my heart has never been His alone. He has always had to share it with other things. And, since He doesn’t actually share His throne, He’s never truly had my heart. For someone that has considered himself a “Christian” for 30 years and has been in full-time ministry for more than 20 of those years, that was quite a humbling revelation.

I’m just being real here. Aly’s death has been a place of discovery for me. It’s forced me to face the reality of who is actually sitting on the throne of my heart. Sure, I sing the songs and make the proclamations that He is my King, but then I put other things in His chair.

My daughter sat there.

She didn’t sit there alone. Her siblings, my wife and the ministry have all had their time in that place, along with countless other things.

Losing Aly has tested every proclamation I’ve ever made concerning my devotion to the Kingdom of God. I’ve sung all the songs like “I surrender all”, “Everything and Nothing Else”, “All for You Jesus”. I’ve made the bold statement that God is first in my life, that He is the center.

We talk about the power of our testimony…but that word starts with another word…TEST. There will be a test in every testimony. The test is to reveal the level of our commitment. The condition of our heart. I cannot call myself a follower of Christ if He is not at the center of everything: every thought, every desire, every pursuit & every decision. It really is ALL or NOTHING – and I can no longer think that those proclamations will not be tested. Nothing worth its value goes untested. So I have to count the costs of every commitment, of every relationship, of every promise.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

We have a testimony that is being developed, but it came at a heavy cost. Please don’t misunderstand me. God does not bring evil and destruction on our lives to test our commitment to Him, but be assured that He will use them when they “fall” upon us. The choice in those moments will rest squarely on our shoulders. Will we walk on water or will we drown in the depths of our pain and disappointments.

Listen, disappointment can find it’s way into our lives at any point and through any situation. It’s a part of life that we cannot escape. That’s why James says “when you ‘fall’ into various trials”. Sometimes we’ve done nothing wrong, we’ve just fallen into disappointment or loss.

It feels like a roller coaster most of the time. Up and down, up and down. I’ve had to learn to roll with it and, many times, let it roll over me. I can do that because I know that in the end, my Father will have His way. His joy. His peace. So, when things don’t go the way I expected and I’m lost and disappointed, I cry. I scream. I even sometimes throw things. I probably need to invest in a punching bag.

But then, I worship. I recommit my life to Him and I put Him back on the throne of my heart. I let patience have its perfect work in me that I might be lacking NOTHING. Why? Because He is worthy of the sacrifice. He is worthy of the pain. Actually, He is just worthy. Period. The more I give to Him, the more I feel a part of His death AND His resurrection; a part of His sacrifice. He really did give everything. I can’t even come close to that, so I press on and find that He is always faithful.

The bottom line is this: You cannot fully know Christ without knowing the fellowship of His suffering.

You can’t have a testimony without a test.

Whatever you’ve gone through or are going through, remember, He is worth the sacrifice. He is worth all of it. So, don’t let the enemy steal your sacrifice. It’s yours and it is for HIM.

Through it all, remember, He is good. He is faithful. ALWAYS.