A lot of people have great conversion stories. I’m not one of those people. I wish that I were, but my “conversion” story is pretty mundane. Church is woven through every memory I have. Church for me was just a part of growing up like going to school and family dinners on Sunday afternoon. In some ways, I’m jealous of those who can pinpoint the exact moment or time period when they first believed. My nephew, Chase Chism, is one of those people. This week, my sister-in-law, Shala Rudd, shared a video on social media of his testimony. The Power that overtook him when he first believed jumps out and grabs you! My “run-of-the-mill-grew-up-in-the-church” story doesn’t have that same zing to it.
Chase’s testimony includes a trip to jail – the literal kind. That’s where he began this journey of faith. He can pinpoint the exact day – May 13, 2018 – when he chose Christ over this world. That’s so cool! I mean that with all sincerity -THAT’S SO COOL!!!
Click Here to watch Chase’s testimony! It’s worth every second!
Hearing Chase’s testimony got me thinking about a couple of things. First, how many of us live in prisons of our own making? For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been studying Romans 6:1-14 in one of my classes. The essence of the passage is that once we take on a shared identity by believing in Christ – “sin” as a way of life (as contrasted with “sins” as behavior choices) no longer has authority and control over us.
Think of “Sin” in this sense like a warden who has control over a prison. Before Christ died on the cross, we were all prisoners to “Warden Sin.” We were under its dominion and control with no way to escape. Sentenced to solitary confinement. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, He took back the keys to the prison – forever. He unlocked every cell. Then, to be sure that we’d never find ourselves trapped in the cell of sin without a way out, God the Father turned around and graciously handed us the keys – the key of a new identity.
In his sharing, Chase spoke a powerful truth that goes straight to the heart of Romans 6. He said, “They say ‘once an addict, always an addict.’ I’m here to tell you that is not true. Through the power of Jesus Christ, I’m no longer an addict. The Lord sets the prisoner free.” Amen! That is the message of Romans 6. (Chase, did you know that we were studying Romans 6?)
In other words, we are not defined by our past choices. It doesn’t matter whether your “sin” is prescription drugs, street drugs, pornography, vanity, chasing the “almighty dollar,” anger issues, control issues, or a myriad of other choices by which the world defines us. The message is the same – those choices do not define you. You are not defined by this world. Your identity is greater!
So how do we take on this new identity? Know it, believe it, and put it into action. Easy, peasy! No, it’s not. Why do we struggle with throwing off our old identities? Because “Warden Sin” continues strut the grounds as ifhe is still in control, and we fall prey to his deception. God handed us the key. We forget. Like when I search all over for my reading glasses only to find them on top of my head – it’s right there in front of me the entire time. Even though free, we walk – no run – right back into the prison.
We turn ourselves over to a warden who has no authority.
We sit in cells with no locks.
Another thing that Chase reminded me – we all have a testimony. Zingy conversion stories are AWESOME, but they aren’t required. God can use whatever you have to offer as a message to help another. Different people need different stories. The testimony that grips one person might be completely lost on another. How wonderful is it that there are so many amazing, quiet, astonishing, yawn-inducing, miraculous stories to be shared.
What’s your story? Have you shared it? Someone needs your story – it might be the key that unlocks their prison.
Chase – thank you for sharing your story! We’ll never know all of the cell doors unlocked by your courage to share.
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