by Jim Oesterwind
This is the second of a series. Part 1 is here.
The opal is a beautiful stone because of the “play of color” on its surface. When you alter your line of sight or move the stone, the colors chase one another over the surface of the gem in broad splashes. Opals have an iridescent quality to them. The surface of the stone contains very small, microscopic cracks. Though the fissures cannot be seen, they are substantial enough to interfere with and refract the light rays and split them up prismatically. I often think of this when I think of my life. My life has an opalescent quality to it. The trials, sorrows, and temptations line the surfaces of my life with fissures. The stone of my life is my testimony. It is unique; therefore, I will reach certain people and connect with them by using a multifaceted testimony. It is not a deceptive or changing testimony but simply a “play of color” across the surface of my life.
It is imperative that we give some thought to our testimony. How we came to that crisis point or went through that process by which we knew for certain that we had eternal life. Allow me to share with you my testimony from two different lines of sight. It is the same testimony, but by moving the stone of my life I connect with two different people to whom I am witnessing.
Connecting with a Man Struggling in His Marriage
Before I received eternal life, I struggled a great deal in my relationship with my wife. We had been married for three years, but selfishness was tearing apart the marriage. I look back now and see clearly that had we continued on the way we were, it would have ended in divorce. It’s impossible to have a good marriage when two people are living two independent lives instead of living foreach other. I remember during one particularly stressful time, my wife wondered out loud whether or not she should just return to Michigan instead of staying in California with me. That was difficult to hear.
A short while after that, I flew to Pennsylvania to meet an uncle that I never really knew. While visiting, something wonderful happened to me. I received eternal life. Several things changed that day. I took the return flight and met my wife at the airport. She sensed the change in me.
Now that I have eternal life, I work hard at eliminating selfishness from my life. I strive to love my wife and sacrifice for her. I’m not perfect; but shortly after I received eternal life, I began working on my marriage. My relationship with my wife changed in small ways at first. She sensed my desire to love her and care for her like never before. Now, weeks away from our 25th anniversary, we are still married and more in love with one another than ever before. Knowing that I have eternal life has kept my perspective on the things that really count. I know that if I were to die right now, I’d go to Heaven. I know that I have eternal life! May I ask you a question?
Notice that this testimony can be relayed to a person in two to three minutes. I also have my testimony expanded to 30 minutes for formal addresses. However, for the purpose of evangelism the testimony should be brief. It should contain before conversion, conversion, and post conversion aspects to it as defined in part one of this article (see Acts 22 and Paul’s testimony). It also is an introduction so it need not include how you received eternal life. You are simply working your way to that point by building rapport with your friend.
Connecting with the Fearful and Unbelieving
Now let us suppose I have met someone who is a fearful and anxious person. I have something in common with a person like that. So, I move the stone of my life. Light refracts and hits the surface; there is a “play in color” that connects with this particular person.
You know, before I received eternal life I was very fearful of death. I remember going to a movie theatre to watch the release of the 1990 film titled Ghost. It is a story about Sam and Molly, a couple deeply in love. Walking back to their new apartment after a night at the theatre, they encounter a thief in a dark alley, and Sam is murdered. He finds himself trapped as a ghost and realizes that his death was no accident. He must warn Molly about the danger she is in, but he cannot be seen or heard by the living.
The movie was disturbing to me because it prodded me to think about what would happen when I died. I didn’t know if I would have eternal life. Wraith-like beings in the movie would rise from the earth, and in their shadowy forms, they would pull the evil people down into an abyss to be tormented. The good were pulled into an ethereal mist of light. I just didn’t think about the concept of eternal life all that much. It really struck me that I simply didn’t know for sure if I had eternal life.
It was only months after seeing that movie that I came to know for sure that I would have eternal life when I died. That was such a relief to me. I remember taking an airplane trip just days after receiving eternal life. Normally, I would have been fearful and insecure. I just don’t like flying. But something was different for me. I knew that had that plane crashed, I had eternal life. I had a peace that I simply cannot explain. I know for sure now that I have eternal life – that I will go to heaven when I die. May I ask you a question?
Part 3 to follow…
But what if you do not have a before testimony? You certainly cannot invent one. You certainly shouldn’t covet the wicked ‘befores’ of other people! Part three will include how to prepare a testimony with no before.