We all have a story.
In Acts 26, Paul shares his awesome transformation story. He recounts his life to King Agrippa, Festus, and all who were in earshot.
Here is a small part of my story:
I was blessed to grow up knowing that Jesus lived in my heart. I remember asking Jesus into my heart in first or second grade. I grew up learning Bible stories, going to church, and being involved in Church activities. I was also baptized as an infant. I was a good person and knew that Jesus loved me. This was all good and I was going through life just fine, until my Sophomore year in High School.
Up until this time in my life, our family attended a denominational church in town and we were pretty active. My Dad would drop us all off at the front door on Sunday morning and then go to park the car.
One Sunday morning my Mom made a decision that we would attend a different church. I was very uncomfortable. Being an introvert, I did not like new situations and meeting new people. I was introduced to a girl who took me to Sunday School with her and tried to make me feel at home. I have to say, I did not want to be there and make any new friends. I had a Church and friends already. A few Sundays passed, and my family began to change before my eyes. My Dad, who used to drop us off at the front door of Church and go park the car…(we would later learn that he never went to Church , but would go out to breakfast with a buddy and then come back just as Church ended to pick us up!)…began to search His heart and realize He was missing Jesus in his life. I still recall the Sunday morning sitting on the wooden pew watching my Dad, Mom, and sister go in front of the Church to be baptized. Seriously?!?! I already knew Jesus lived in my heart and I was sprinkle baptized as an infant. I did NOT have to be baptized again! I felt alone sitting there by myself watching my family go forward, but I was not in a place to “follow”. A couple of months later we went as a family to watch my brother get baptized at church camp. I still felt in my mind that I did not need to be baptized.
After a few months at the new church, my whole family, except me, had a new faith and family in Christ. Summer came and my parents made the decision that I would attend the youth group trip to CIY (Christ in Youth) conference. They literally had to put me on the bus the morning of the trip. I am pretty sure I got on the bus in tears and had a horrible rebellious attitude. Little did I know that God would change my heart that week. Throughout the week there were many speakers and times to sit and talk to new friends and leaders about what God wants for us as His children. I remember sitting at a night session listening to a speaker talk about what baptism means. I realized that baptism was the outward proclamation to others and to Christ that He is the center of my life. Rebellion ruled my heart, but Jesus came in to soften it and to help me realize that my ways were not His ways. I decided that night to be baptized and to give up my selfish ways. I remember calling my parents that night and telling them. I know they wish they would have been there, but I also know the joy they felt knowing that I came to this decision on my own.
While I did not have the experience that Paul did when God audibly spoke to Him, (verses 12-15) I knew that God was speaking to my heart. We all have a conversion story. We are called to tell our story. Paul knew that once he became a follower of Jesus, his sole purpose in life was to spread the Good News of Jesus. If we believe in Jesus, Paul’s purpose is our purpose, too. Many times, when we are talking to people who don’t yet know Jesus, we fool ourselves into thinking that we need to focus on what Jesus can do for them, rather than simply sharing what Jesus has already done for us. When it comes to spreading the Good News, we start by sharing our story. I shared the story of how I came to know Christ, but i have Many, Many stories that I can share of how Christ has worked in my life.
Paul stood before King Agrippa, in chains and a prisoner, yet, he was given the opportunity to preach the gospel to the highest in the land. As a prisoner, Paul is able to share his testimony. It would have been so easy for Paul to feel that God could not use him during these years in captivity. He could have felt sorry for himself and questioned God. Yet, God was able to use him in his situation for things far greater than Paul ever would have imagined.
There are many times in my life when I am complaining about my circumstances. In fact, in the past month my family has faced quite a few circumstances that I could have gotten very discouraged about, but instead I tried to look at the circumstances as opportunities to see how God would shine through.
We need to take our eyes off of our circumstances and ask god how He wants to use us through them. We might be surprised at the outcome. Do you think Paul was surprised that he got to share his story with the leaders of his time? He was a man of courage and hope. He shared his story without reservation. We are called to do the same.
Have courage and hope as Paul did and…Share your story with someone today.