Greetings Narrow Gate,
There are events in everyone's lives that are seminal moments. These are moments that cause us to reflect, and maybe change the way we are living, whether it's bad to good or good to bad, or something else. The birth of your first child, a wedding, a death of a spouse, a separation or divorce are just a few examples of these moments. The trajectory of our lives can change. Attitudes and opinions can change.
My accident a few weeks back was a seminal moment for me. I'm not sure that I have totally wrapped my mind and spirit around what God's doing with this incident in my life yet. I'm not finished figuring it out. But I do know this: As God lays stuff on my heart, I will pass it on. This I know.
Something else, from me, I am thankful to still be in the here and now. As we roll into Thanksgiving, I'm just happy to be here. I am truly thankful to God to still be alive. Pastors, at Thanksgiving, are always looking for messages to spur our thoughts for reasons to be thankful. For Christians, should we not have this message of thanksgiving always on the tips of our tongues? This message of thanksgiving is called a testimony. What do you thank God for right now.
Now, I realize that some of us are in circumstances that are extremely difficult, with the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn. But no matter our circumstance, I know that there are reasons for all of us to be thankful.
So, as we begin today, what's your testimony? Hey, I'm talking to you. The person reading this devotion thingy. What's your testimony? Is it a coherent description of a loving relationship with God, or is it something else? Maybe a bumper sticker? Something cute or funny? When you boil your life down to the end, what's your testimony?
I'll tell you what got me started thinking about this, a couple things really. Naturally, my accident, seriously, I could have died. But next I bumped into an online article on Newsmax by Zoe Papadakis. Entitled Secrets of Steve McQueen's Final Years Revealed. Did you see this? It's not what you think. Not at all the normal salacious details of a Hollywood Star's final years. You see, Steve McQueen died a Christian. I had no idea.
I am sixty two years old. I came of age in the sixties and seventies, growing up with TV, Rock n Roll and being cool. There was NO ONE COOLER than Steve McQueen. Women adored him and men wanted to be like him. Whether it was his driving in the movies Bullitt or The Getaway, the motorcycle jump scene in The Great Escape, or just him supposedly eating a few dozen boiled eggs in Cool Hand Luke, Steve McQueen was cool. He died in 1980, at age 50, from lung cancer. From the article in Newsmax,
"At the end of his life, he met a pilot named Sammy Mason, who was probably 10-15 years older than Steve. However, Sammy had a special presence about him. One day, Steve finally said, 'There's something different about you. I can't put my finger on it.' Sammy said, 'Well Steve, I'm a born again Christian.' And from that moment on Steve wanted to emulate him."
Steve McQueen went to church With Sammy Mason. He wanted to learn more about Christianity. A few weeks later, McQueen told Sammy's pastor, "Do you remember a couple weeks ago when you asked everyone to bow their heads and accept Jesus Christ? Well, I closed my eyes and did that."
This was six months before he was diagnosed with cancer. After the diagnosis, when he knew that he was dying, he reached out to Billy Graham. Rev. Graham came to see him, they were going to pray together, when McQueen said, "I don't have my Bible". Rev. Graham gave him his. He never let go of that Bible. Steve McQueen died of cancer less than a year later. More from the article,
"Before cancer, McQueen's outlook on life was very cynical. I think Christianity gave him comfort. He was going to announce that he was a Christian, but he never got that opportunity. He revealed that his body was gone, it's broken, but his spirit isn't broken and his heart isn't broken." Psalm 18:2,
"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of salvation, my stronghold."
Steve McQueen held onto God until the end. I had no clue.
So, here we have Steve McQueen's testimony finally coming out. It is a beautiful testimony of God's grace in an epic struggle with a disease that we all have witnessed at sometime in our lives. But there is something we can't forget. You may already have forgotten it. I'm talking about the testimony of the pilot friend of Steve McQueen's, Sammy Mason. Sammy's was a life so obviously different that Steve McQueen noticed.
Which brings me back to this: What is your testimony? Revelation 12:11,
"They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
I love this verse. Jesus, shedding his blood for each of us. Our testimonies, with each one we help prove Satan the liar that he is. Also, we are not so enthralled with this life or this world that we fear death, even a sacrificial death such as Christ.
A Christian testimony is our personal description of how we came to know the God of the Bible through the moving of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We share how we became a Christian and how God has worked in our lives in miraculous and not so miraculous ways. Our testimony should always harken back to the Good News of Christ. His sacrificial death on the cross, as well as, his burial and resurrection. The truth of who and what Christ is. This is what proves Satan to be a liar. 1 Peter 2:21,
"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
We complain about our difficulty in following Christ in his righteousness, as sinners trying not to sin. But we forget that Christ's example is also for us as the suffering servant. The one who suffers for others. Can we pick up that cross too?
But our testimonies can be more than just a story, a great personal story, made up of words, to be shared with others. Our testimony can be our lives. Our lives lived so differently from the world, that we stand out in contrast. A life lived just like Sammy Mason. There is no way to know this definitely, but Steve McQueen might not be in heaven if it wasn't for Sammy Mason. Who knows how many other hearts that Sammy influenced with his testimony.
A single life dedicated to Christ is a powerful testimony. One that we can all have. 2 Corinthians 1:12,
"Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace."
When the actions of our lives match the words coming from our lips, our testimony is seen and heard to be a sincere and heartfelt testimony. Again, for the last time today, I ask you: What is your testimony?
If we are to testify to God's presence in our lives, if we are to testify to our life being an example of Christ, we must do so with actions and words and thoughts that all are reflections of Christ. As we follow in his steps, we can know that we are living this kind of life when we realize our living is not always all about us. It's about the other people in your life.
Happy Thanksgiving. Know that I am thankful for each of you and pray for you daily.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC