This past Sunday, I had the honor of being a part of the most significant commitments two of my friends will ever make in their lives: a commitment to each other in marriage and a commitment to Jesus in baptism. It was beautiful -- breathtakingly beautiful -- in more ways than one. Sure, the partly cloudy 65-75 degree weather at about 8700' elevation just west of Boulder, CO made for great pictures. But the story of lives surrendered to and changed by God reveals to my heart a spiritual glory that surpasses the natural beauty of the Front Range. While I was already acquainted with this story of transformation as I've seen my friends grow over the last 9 months, my appreciation for God's handiwork in their lives deepened when I heard that story from someone else's perspective.
The most exciting moments of the day had already passed by the time I had this particularly impactful conversation. The vows, the kiss, the baptism, the prayer, the pictures -- all great moments. But what stands out most is when I went back for a second helping at the reception buffet. As I stood in line with the groom's 21-year-old younger brother, this young adult spontaneously gushed about his older brother. "I'm just really proud of Justin," he said. He explained that while Justin hasn't always set the best example for him as the younger brother, he could see now that it's possible to change. "He has had low points just like everyone else. But seeing what he has gone through and where he is today gives me hope." For this young man who himself was feeling the need for change in his own life, Justin's lows had become highs.
In that moment, I was wowed once again by the power of God to bring beauty out of ashes, joy out of junk, victory out of defeat.
There is something powerful about the story of grace each and every one of us carries. Whether we realize it or not, our experience of God's saving and transforming grace in our lives is one that has the power to impact others' eternities. I think that's why the Bible identifies our testimonies as one of the key factors in overcoming Satan's schemes against us: "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony..." (Rev. 12:11). Not only is it a key factor in combatting Satan in our own lives, but it's a chosen factor in extending salvation to others:
Our confession of His faithfulness is Heaven’s chosen agency for revealing Christ to the world. We are to acknowledge His grace as made known through the holy men of old; but that which will be most effectual is the testimony of our own experience. We are witnesses for God as we reveal in ourselves the working of a power that is divine. Every individual has a life distinct from all others, and an experience differing essentially from theirs. God desires that our praise shall ascend to Him, marked by our own individuality. These precious acknowledgments to the praise of the glory of His grace, when supported by a Christ-like life, have an irresistible power that works for the salvation of souls (E.G. White, The Desire of Ages, 347).
Our stories of grace may stir a sense of embarrassment about our lows. Maybe we even feel like our lows haven't been all that low, that we don't have that dramatic of a story to share. Whatever the case, our experience of God stepping in to save us from ourselves is always a story worth telling.
Admittedly, sometimes we experience seasons in our lives when all we can see are the lows. Maybe that season is right now for some. When you find yourself there, realize that is not put off by our sorrows or struggles. He in fact is afflicted in our affliction (Isa. 63:9) and is able to make us more than conquerors through Jesus (Rom. 8:37) no matter how dark the night. May we take courage in the God who is able to make our lows become highs and is both able and eager to give us a story of His transforming grace.