Not I, but Jesus Christ (Bri’s Story)

As a kid, I didn’t quite get the concept of a testimony. Honestly, until a couple years back I still didn’t get it. My problem at first was that I didn’t think I could tell mine…because there was nothing to say. I was just a kid who got saved, and that was that. Eventually my almost non-existent testimony grew into a barely existent one. I was a homeschooled pastor’s kid who had asked Jesus into my life, to change me and forgive me and work in me, and I got baptized and I was doing my best in the world. What more could I say? For years my story was just that simple, until I started telling it as if it was all the bad things you’d gone through and how you “hadn’t given up because of your faith”, because of what you believed in. If that were the case now, I’d tell you about how I’d been teased a lot as a kid or about the phase in my life when I had a terrible relationship with my parents. I’d tell you about how angry of a teenager I was, or I’d tell you how much I was persecuted in my own youth group and how my family has been asked to leave three churches for no good reasons. I’d tell you about all the fears and the anger and the anxiety I have and how the only reason I’m staying strong is because, well, I’m not…God is. He is my strength. And when I am weak, I am strong…because of Him. And that’s all I would tell you. But now?

Now things have changed. I know what a testimony is.

Not I, but Jesus Christ. 

Your story, my story…they are all of God’s grace. They are of His mercy, of His forgiveness, of His redeeming love, and of so much more. 

Now I can tell you my testimony. And it’s this:

My name is Brianna. And I was and am completely undeserving of anything but hell. But God chose me. He chose to love me, forgive me, and die for me. He chose to take someone so broken and hurting and tear away the old and create someone new. And there is nothing I could do or say that could ever convince anyone of how truly thankful I am that I have been given a second chance, that I have been redeemed. And I know I fail, I know I make mistakes, but that’s okay. I will never be perfect, and that’s okay. I don’t have to be. Bad things happen and good things happen and I keep fighting one battle after another and I’ll keep doing it until God brings me home. But there is nothing I’d rather do, than live for the one who died for me, and die for the one who lives in me.

So there you have it. There are the bits and pieces that somehow fit all together to create a whirlwind of a story…my story. I didn’t tell you everything, no. And what I did tell you…well, I certainly didn’t go into much detail. If I would have, we’d be here forever. You see, my past is full of rough patches. And it’s tainted with a lot of pain, and a whole lot of anger. I have been betrayed, lied to, cheated…I have been hurt and hurt and hurt. And it runs deep and red as blood. I feel like all I ever wanted growing up, was deliverance. But recently I’ve been learning a lot about suffering. Through my own suffering, I have walked away a few times. And I have crumbled even more. But I’m slowly learning to press into God whenever I suffer, because I’m letting the cross…I’m letting Christ’s sacrifice for me…dictate my view of suffering. Why? Because my suffering isn’t about me. It’s not my identity, not anymore. Instead, I’m surrendering to Jesus. I’m abandoning my entire being – all that I have and am – and I am laying it all down at His feet, so that I can submit to all that He is. Because without Him, I am gone…lifeless…lost. But with Him, I am worth redeeming. 

I’m not praying for deliverance anymore…at least, I’m trying not to. Now I’m praying for obedience. Obedience in the good days and obedience in the bad ones…and even in the worst ones. And it won’t be easy…this will all be a choice that I’ll have to make every day for the rest of my life. But it is so worth it. My story isn’t over yet, and this is only the beginning of a long road of hardships and endurance…of grace and love…of strength and weakness.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I am a sinner, but Christ has redeemed me. I am unworthy, but God has chosen me. I am weak, but He is strong. I am broken, but He is making me whole. I am a desert, and forgiveness is my thunderstorm. I am a thorn, and love is my rose. I am a wasteland, and grace is my ocean.

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