Each of us has interactions with a variety of people who are connected with us in various contexts. Some people are those in our neighborhood. Some are a part of the body where we worship. Some are those we meet through work.
Some of these people are newer to us and we share at more of a superficial level. Others know us well over a longer period of time. In both scenarios these individuals gradually get to know our stories little by little as we grow in trust and connection learning when, how, and what is wisdom to share.
What do we share about our testimony in Christ when those opportunities arise and the Lord nudges us to tell someone?
I think it can be easy (and understandable) not to share every detail of the journey and how the Lord met us. That would require a very long conversation for most of us. And it is not always wise or necessary.
If we are tuned into the Lord, I believe He shows us what part of our story will reach the heart, mind, and spirit of the other person.
Even so we have a choice of what we emphasize in the telling. How often do we emphasize only the victories? How often do we share too much about the darker part of our story that perhaps we don’t need to share?
It requires wisdom to allow the Lord to use us to share our testimony, but when He leads we should not hesitate to do so.
As I was reading in Exodus, I took note of Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who was a Midianite priest and leader. (You may know that the Midianites were descendants of Abraham and Keturah whom he married after Sarah died.) He first met Moses when he was on the run out of Egypt and hardly sure of what lay ahead of him.
Jethro took him in and gave his daughter Zipporah to him to become his wife, but Jethro was not a believer in Yahweh. Moses was with him until God met him at the burning bush and sent him to Egypt to lead the people of Israel out of bondage.
When we next see Jethro, he has come with Zipporah and the sons of her and Moses to meet Moses near Sinai after the Pharaoh’s army was defeated as the sea collapsed over them. Moses goes out to meet him and after greeting each other, they go into the tent of Moses. If we were to listen in on the conversation in the tent, it would be logical for Jethro to want to hear about what has happened since Moses left. Even though he likely heard about the story to some degree, it would make sense that he wanted to hear directly from Moses.
Consider what testimony Moses shares with this Midianite priest:
“Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.”
Exodus 18:8 (NIV)
Moses shared a balanced account with Jethro. He told him about the hardships and difficulties along the way, but he balanced those with the deliverances from dangerous and deadly challenges.
That balance was very wise as he shared with an unbeliever. He didn’t give Jethro the impression that God didn’t allow his people to face many dangers and tests, but that God did provide ultimate deliverance.
“Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.”
Exodus 18:9 (NIV)
But he doesn’t stop there:
He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”
Exodus 18:10-11 (NIV)
Jethro, an unbeliever, is won over by the testimony that gives a clear picture that accepting Yahweh as God does not mean life will be free of issues or problems, but that God will ultimately bring deliverance. He demonstrates his conversion a verse later when he brings a burnt offering to God that was something that was then understood to atone for past sins and to appeal for forgiveness and acceptance.
What a good model to help point to a balance when we share our testimony of God working in our lives.