We’re talking over Zoom on a Tuesday night when he says we’ve got it wrong, the way we highlight people’s testimonies as incredible stories about them. “Testimonies are about what God has done,” he says.
They are equally incredible for the murderer, the drug lord, the Karen and your average Joe.
She asks me about my latest fascination with his books. “His heart,” I say. “His heart is so genuine.”
His story is fascinating, but it’s his heart that wrecks me. It’s his pure, honest search for truth. His impartial discovery of The Way.
It’s not the unique beginning to his conversion story that brings me to tears at midnight when I read it. It’s the wonder that his story has the same resolution, the same conclusion, as mine.
His books fascinate me, not because he is telling me things I don’t know. It’s because he helps me really see the things I do know.
It’s how he gives me a third-person view of the way the love of God has changed him. Has changed me.
It’s how I feel when I meet him in the midst of homesickness and we realize we grew up driving past the same fields, the same diner on the same corner of town. It’s validation.
And I watch her tell her story to strangers across our kitchen table, to an audience of women from the podium in front of the church to the pages of handwritten letters she sends to teenagers, the sick and dying. “I was taking communion on Good Friday and I knew something wasn’t right,” she always says.
Her story validates the experience of the transforming work of God in the soul.
And that matters because it’s almost impossible to describe.
All John Wesley can say is that his heart felt “strangely warmed.”
All Nabeel Qureshi can say is “I submit.”
All C.S. Lewis can say is, “I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”
And it matters because every story makes me see the gospel over again, in different words.
It makes me see what’s happened in my own heart, in the language of another’s.
It matters because it expresses the truest thing I have ever experienced.
It matters because it adds to the testimony of countless Christians across the ages nodding in agreement.
“Amen. Me too.”