I don’t have a dramatic conversion story. Sometimes I wish I did. I remember as a younger Christian hearing stories of people sharing their impressive conversion stories and being almost envious of them. You know them. People talk about how they served prison time and were caught up in heinous sins. Then someone shared the gospel with them and their lives were changed.
I remember hearing one story years ago. A guy named Joe shared with our group what he used to be like and we all listened with mouths agape and hearts amazed at how powerful the gospel had been in his life. It’s not that my sins were any less offensive to the most holy God, but Joe’s sins and his deliverance made for such a better and more compelling testimony to the power of the gospel. Sometimes I wish I had Joe’s story, but I don’t.
I wasn’t raised from birth going to church, but I was introduced to the good news at the relatively young age of 10. I didn’t really have much time to sin that badly. At least not badly enough to have a story that anyone would really like to hear. Like all of us, I’ve had my struggle with sin, but I’ve never been addicted, imprisoned or abused. My story is really pretty simple. I grew up believing, followed the rules (for the most part), went to a Christian college, married a Christian girl, and became a Christian minister. Borrr-rrring!
Sometimes I wish I had a better story.
People like me, and I suspect there are many more, can have the tendency to under appreciate the power of the gospel. So in the absence of a story of what used to be, I sometimes imagine a story of what might have been. What might my life have been like if I hadn’t heard the gospel at an early age?
Who can say for sure, but early on in life before God and the church became central in my family’s life, there was a lot of alcohol in my family. Not that my parents were alcoholics, but drinking was more than social. I can even remember pretending with my friends while playing in our pedal-driven cars driving to an imaginary bar and ordering drinks. Alcohol, and perhaps even the abuse of it, was the trajectory my life was headed. As a child, I was exposed to unhealthy anger and even had moments of rage. Without the gospel, I’m confident that anger would have gotten the best of me many more times than it has. The list can go on.
I have in no way conquered the power of sin in my life, but to the extent that I have, I give credit to the gospel. To the extent that I am a good husband and a good father is a testimony to the power of the gospel. I shudder to think of what might have been. And in my shuddering, I give thanks to God who rescued me from the power of sin and death. Just like he rescued Joe.
Maybe you have one of those impressive stories that everyone loves to hear. Tell those and tell them often. You are a witness to the power of the gospel. But, maybe you’re more like me — just an ordinary guy who has an ordinary story. Take a moment and think of what might have been and how lost we would be.
Then, thank the Lord for rescuing you from what might have been and giving you the hope of what is to come.
Todd Catteau is the preaching minister for the Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison. He is married with four children. More of his writing can be found at http://toddcatteau.blogspot.com.