Over the decades I have asked students to use the example of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9 and write out the beginning of their journey with the Lord. Dr. Luke, the author of the Book of Acts in the New Testament recounted the sequence of events that led Saul (later renamed Paul) to become a follower of Jesus. Luke used a before – how – after framework to recall how the Jewish rabbi met Jesus on a Damascus road. Aren’t you glad Luke took time to write down this story?
Read Acts 9 and look for the three segments of Paul’s testimony. What was Saul of Tarsus like “before” he met Jesus? “How” did it happen? Since meeting and following Jesus, how is Paul different “after” making such a decision? Bonus info: Luke re-told the story in Acts 26.
Have you ever written out your before-how-after conversion experience? How could that be helpful to you or others? I have relied on my story to anchor my faith in a historical context. I remember meeting Jesus at Ohio University in a real and significant way in the 1970’s. Sharing my story with others has boosted their interest in and faith consideration of Jesus, whether they were a believer at the time, or checking out what faith in Christ meant.
The experiences you are having as a believer in Jesus are fresh, personal, valuable, and enriching. You are learning new things about God all the time, overcoming obstacles and old tendencies, and finding strength from the Holy Spirit to live a Christ-honoring life. God is providing for your needs such as trustworthy friends, a job, stable emotional and physical health, funds for a college education, and a mind to learn and apply what you’re studying.
Therefore, it is good to remember our experiences with God. When we see His provision, we should express appreciation and thanks. When we get discouraged, He provides strength and endurance. When we suffer, He walks with us. When we struggle with uncertainty, He offers perspective and asks us to trust Him in the dark. When we’re feeling pessimistic, the reminder of God’s goodness can make the sun shine in our soul again. When we’re unsure of our present and/or future, His past direction and provision inspires and assures us to hold on.
Read Titus 2:1-8.
Another benefit of remembering who the Lord is (and what he has done) is that it can assist others. One of the blessings of growing in faith is mentoring new followers of Christ like Paul invested in people like Timothy and Titus. As they encountered challenges, Paul was able to tell them how God helped him to face and overcome various struggles, resistance, and troubles. As they struggled with fear, temptation, and sin, Paul was able to share the wisdom and ways God helped him to deal with the issues and find victory (1 Corinthians 10:13 and 1 Timothy 1:6-7). You can encourage others by recounting how you deal with the habit of daily prayer, overcoming new challenges in sharing your faith with others, and walking in the fruit and gifts of the Spirit.
The memories you’re building right now are key and important. The Scriptures speak of “making an altar,” and remembering what the Lord has done in your life. You may want to journal, i.e., write stuff down in a notebook, or on your mobile device, in order to track your spiritual journey. It would then be available to you to “teach what is good” (Titus 2:1,3) when younger Christians need encouragement from you. Who is someone that you need to care for and invest in? Live communally. Experience(s) become more blessed when they are shared.
Love is a verb,
©2014 by Mike Olejarz