Ain't No Grave, Chapter 16 from I'll Fly Away
If your neighbors’ house was on fire, would you warn them? What if your friend’s house was on fire? Would you warn them? And how about a stranger’s house? If their house was on fire, would you tell them? Of course, you would! Why wouldn’t you?
Would it stir you to action if I told you all of those places were on fire right now—as you go about grocery shopping or running errands in living your daily life? They’re possibly happening in or near your home—right where you live. People who haven’t heard the gospel are in danger of perishing forever. Their house is on fire!
God puts people in the paths of others who have exactly the right message for them, and their heart is already open to listening. Just the right style, voice, and demeanor will get their attention, and you are that person. God is amazing!
If you had the right tools to combat the fire, would you use them? Would you use the tool of conversation, which helps avoid the awkwardness of sharing your faith? Would you use it to put out fires?
Years ago, I was the director of a pregnancy care center, and I received training at a conference about sharing your testimony. Most people learn about Jesus from hearing another’s journey and experience with Him. The training involved taking time to write out how we came to know Jesus as our Savior. We practiced writing, rewriting, and rehearsing our testimony in Christ until we could recount it in three minutes.
The reason for three minutes is that a counseling session with a client at the pregnancy care center usually only lasted about twenty minutes. And when the Holy Spirit permitted, three of those minutes could be used to offer the hope of Jesus Christ when a client could possibly feel hopeless. When I was counseling, I would share my story when we waited for the results of the pregnancy test. During those three minutes of waiting, a client can get quite agitated, and there is no better time to invite God into the scene.
With this newfound idea and exercise of sharing my faith, I realized my great passion and gift from God. I loved evangelizing, and sharing my testimony was the best tool of training that I ever received to do exactly that.
Also, during this exercise, I saw others who didn’t have the gift of evangelism become equipped and ready to share their testimony as well. After I returned home from the conference, I trained my staff at the center. I watched their eyes light up with the newfound confidence to share who Jesus is and what He did in their lives with others. It’s powerful! You don’t need the gift of evangelism to share the gospel, which is every believer’s job given to them through the Holy Spirit.
Start this exercise by answering a few quick questions about what God did to bring you to Christ:
• How old were you when you first learned about Jesus?
• Did you stray or leave His side? If not, what challenge did you face that made you question Him or strengthen you?
• Did you ever hit rock bottom, or how did God care for you in your time of need?
• What is your favorite Scripture?
• Who are you today and how are you different since knowing, accepting, and
If you start to answer these simple questions, you’ll find they’re not simple at all, and neither is God! Your story will unfold, and God will show you exactly who you were and who you are now. Writing down your story is so important. I have designed a beautiful journal called This Is My Story (sandyholly.com), and I hand it out to loved ones as a tool to sit down and write it out.
As you start to write, you will find you want to say a million things. Great! Write them all down. Use this process to understand your story. Then go back and start editing with God’s direction. Let Him show you how it all goes together. Sharing your faith is important to God, and He will guide you through it. Do the hard work now to use for the time left and the salvation of others.
Next, get a stopwatch, and let it rip! Recite your story aloud—just like you’re talking to another. If it’s too long, and I know it will be (because of God’s goodness), pray about how to revise. God will show you what to cut. Grab a stopwatch and let it rip again. Keep doing this until your testimony is under three minutes, and you have it memorized. Sharing it with your family and friends is a great way to memorize it.
Simply because you have this newfound confidence in the pure evidence of Jesus in your life memorized, you still have to wait on the Holy Spirit. You will now see “fires” because you’re looking for them—but not everybody is ready for a “fire extinguisher.”
Whether or not to share your testimony with a “burning house” is a prayerful decision. Pray! The Holy Spirit will quickly confirm or deny with usually no waiting or wondering what to do. Also be ready for the Holy Spirit to put you to work fast! You won’t even know it, but suddenly you are surrounded in fire. What a great place to be with your newfound tools!
These conversations can be surface level or can go really deep, really fast. Stick to your tools. Stick to your story. God’s Word needs to be on your heart if you plan to share it.
The following is a quick example of what to expect and how to use your tools:
You see someone struggling or the person tells you how bad things are.
You say, “Hey, I have days like that too, but since I include Jesus in my days, He’s shown me how to find joy in the trials. I have this hope that He gives me, and it guides my days. Do you know Him?”
You say, “Neither did I until I was 16 and thought I did and again at 26, but I finally I understood who Jesus was when I was 33.” [Insert the beginning of your story here; I’ll tell mine another day or right here if you're curious.]
You continue, “But…hey, I’ve been there trying to fit Him in or wondering about it.” [Share your story, i.e., “Here’s how I….]
Answers a solid “Yes.”
You simply ask, “Can I pray with you right now? Let’s hand this over to God.”
Keep in mind, you cannot fix people. Our job is to point them to the One who can! Once the gospel is shared, pray and let God take over.
Yes, you are putting yourself out there, but these are really simple conversations to easily have with others. People desperately want to be in community with others. They want to talk to others and share their burdens, but we, as workers of the light, must intervene and point them back to Jesus each time. Jesus is the only One who can carry the burdens of many, and He died doing it for us. Thankfully, He continues to do it for us all today.
I know you’re thinking about all the what if’s that can happen when sharing your story, but consider these powerful rebuttals:
• What if I offend someone? What if the person dies without knowing Jesus?
• What if I make someone upset at me? What if Jesus comes back today or
• What if I fail or fumble for words? What if God gives you the words? And if you do fumble; you'll do better next time. God loves your heart. Pray during your fumble
and He will provide the words on the spot!
The what ifs of life can paralyze us from becoming active participants in our own lives and the lives of others. Refuse to let the Devil silence you! Let’s live louder than the Enemy and share our faith!
I don’t live in a world of what if’s; I live in a world of I Am’s!
Here’s a better what if to consider: What if God shows you one day all of your missed fiery opportunities? It’s too late then to tell anyone all of the great things that Jesus did in your life.
Now is the time. The kingdom of heaven is near; time is fleeting. Jesus gathered His disciples and readied them to go and share the good news in Matthew 10:7, which says, “As you go, preach this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” If you have received anything good in your life, it is because God Almighty has given it to you. Don’t keep it and hold onto it so tightly. Freely give. Freely share. Give the good news of Jesus Christ.
This same Scripture in the Message Bible further explains this beautiful truth:
“Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously” (Matthew 10:5-8).
Everything you need to share the gospel—your story—has already been given to you by God. You have all that you need. God spoke the whole world into creation. Your words have power too. Use them wisely and boldly.
Once you complete this assignment, you’ll share the gospel in three simple minutes. Over time, God will finetune your message, and your work and words will never be wasted on anyone. Accomplishing this assignment may sound like a lot of work, but remember, lives are at stake; fires need to be put out! Take the time to show the Way to others. Write, rewrite, rehearse, and Beloved, let’s get to work. Share in any way in every day…until you fly away.
You see I already gave you the tools.
Your testimony is simple;
What you’ve been through is not.
Let Me show you
how to put it all together.
Your story is my favorite.
I am overjoyed,
You are mine.
Don’t keep Me all to yourself.
Show others who I am to you.
Show others what we’ve done together.
And I, for one, am never letting you go.
Thank You for sending
Your mighty arm
And Your outstretched hand.
Since the day I grasped it,
I have never been the same.
I will take the time
To sit with You.
I will write out my story.
Please don’t let me forget a thing.
Lord, show me how to share it.
Give me the courage
to stand firm in my story,
and freely share it.
Let me win the lost
At any cost.
I commit to You today,
I will share my story…
Until I fly away.
1. Ready, set, go! Write, rewrite, and rehearse your story. How many pages were in your first draft?
2. Did God show you some things you had forgotten? If so, how did it make it into your story?
3. How many minutes was your first practice testimony?
4. With whom did you share your story this week?
5. Did you fumble or did you easily slide right into your God-given confidence? Explain.
6. Were you able to pare down your testimony to three minutes? Practice makes perfect, or close to it. Continue to share your God story when prompted by the Holy Spirit, and in the meantime, rehearse it and memorize it for yourself. If you’re doing this book as part of your study, take the time now to share your stories with one another.
God spoke the whole world into creation. Your words also have power.
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