I used to think that the power of my testimony was in my conversion experience, so over the past few years whenever I have had the opportunity to talk or write about my testimony, I have had a tendency to go back to 2010 and relive the details of how bad I was and how deep in sin I was— in order to demonstrate how shocking it was that I was brought out of all those activities so suddenly. Surely, God did glorify Himself in yanking me out of the depths of my depraved behavior. His power was seen clearly in that experience and I will continue to tell people about that. But, over the past year or so, what I’ve become even more convinced of is that the real power of my testimony lies in the continuation of my faith in Jesus Christ, rather than just the initial profession.
When I came out of the homosexual lifestyle, the reactions of those around me varied, but one thing was pretty certain among most: “Matt’s just going through a phase.” Parts of my family supported me and parts of my family were perplexed by me. Most of my friends ceased communication with me, but the ones that remained in my life I could tell didn’t take what I was saying and doing seriously. I think that overall, everyone wished me well, but at the same time were sure that sooner rather than later I would embrace homosexuality as good and right again…..but maybe be a little more “tame” this time around. By this point, in January of 2013, I’m sure that nearly every one expected me to have “returned to my senses.”
This is why I believe now that the real power of my testimony lies in my continued seeking after Christ and my continued repentance. When I often examine my heart, as Paul urged believers to do, I can only gain so much assurance and comfort from my “conversion experience” back in 2010. Like many of those who doubt the authenticity of my salvation, I could analyze that experience up and down and come up with all sorts of ‘logical’ explanations for my sudden switching gears in behavior:
”Maybe I was tired of the craziness of week by week partying and getting trashed? Maybe I was frustrated not being able to find a guy who I could actually see myself being in a committed relationship with? Perhaps I was just ready for a change? After all, I do get bored easily.”
What gives me assurance, and what I believe speaks volumes of the grace of God and the power of the gospel, is that year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day—-I continue to fight the fight of faith. I have sought after Jesus and I have turned from sin daily. Throughout all the ups and downs, the fluctuation of my circumstances and emotions, the frustrations of having to build a completely new life, and the often very real and sometimes overwhelming loneliness of this path I’m on—I stand firm and with my whole, imperfect and sin-tainted heart say, “Jesus Christ is everything.”
Many, many days I have failed to fight perfectly. I have at many times in my walk stooped down and willingly spoon-fed myself the familiar, vile vomit that is sin. Yet, in each and every one of my failures— I was given grace; grace to repent and to keep following after Jesus. The Lord gives me grace each and every day, despite the failures or successes of the day, to believe the truth that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that despite my inablity to offer God anything, He offers me everyhing—He offers me His Son. And in believing this truth, the truth above all truths— I am able to wage war against the hopelessness that fights to consume my heart and destroy my soul. The life-enabling grace given to me because of Jesus Christ, and only because of Jesus Christ, sustains me—to the surprise of many. And even often to the surprise of myself.
The power of my testimony is not limited to my road-to-damascus-like conversion experience, but is really found in my grace-enabled perseverance that points right back to the power, love, patience, faithfulness and goodness of Jesus Christ.