I had a wonderful time back in Alaska. After 6 months away, seeing my friends and family was that much sweeter, especially since I only had 3 weeks home before another 6 months at school. As you can imagine, my last weekend home was crazy-hectic, running errands, gathering my stuff together, trying to see everyone one last time, etc…
But in the midst of the hustle-bustle, God impressed upon me a simple idea: flowers. One of my dear friends has just relapsed into cancer after years of dormancy. I wanted to see her again before I left, and I thought some flowers would brighten up the gloominess of Alaskan winters. So I picked up a simply, bright arrangement to surprise her at work, but as soon as I stepped into her office, I was the one who was surprised.
Within minutes of my arrival, I realized that God had wanted me there for so much more than to give lilies and daisies. He wanted to give me a vision. As I talked with this wonderful woman of God, the work of the Holy Spirit simply flowed from her and she brought to mind a passage I had read the previous morning:
“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you… who will also confirm you to the end.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-6, 8 (emphasis mine.)
When I read this, I couldn’t help but ask what is this “testimony of Christ”? I prayed about it and a thought came to me: transformation. The testimony of Christ, the powerful evidence of His work in our lives, is the transformation, inside and out, that He works in us.
I have been told by many that I tend to have a positive, cheerful disposition that’s relatively unshakeable, but I got nothing on the friend I visited on Thursday. Here she was, sitting at work, helping the senior citizens of Kenai, tired and sick, but pouring encouragement into me. By the “testimony of Christ [that is being] confirmed in [her]”, she was able to use all the struggles God has put in her life (divorce, cancer, dormancy, relapse and more) to show His work in her life. And the knowledge that the same Christ who has worked so in her life can and is working in mine…. Wow.
As I left her office, I had tears in my eyes, praying “God, I want to be a woman like this. One who is so in love with You that flows naturally from me. Someone who can see Your work in her life, and, by telling her story, glorify God and pull people closer to Him.”
I was extremely humbled, and speechlessly grateful. I came to give a gift, to brighten a day, but she gave me so much more. This lovely woman was a living reminder of God’s faithfulness to His promises to His children.
These are my favorite verses, not because I display them. I’m no where near there yet. Nevertheless, people like Paul and my friend who show me the “testimony of Christ”, remind me that our God can do anything, and by His continual work in me, I might be able to echo what Paul says here.
“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10