Today’s Reading: Acts 22
The apostle Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. That was AD 34. It was an amazing story of Paul encountering the resurrected Jesus. Our chapter today is Acts 22, and we find here, thirteen chapters later, that Paul is telling his story from chapter 9. This was in AD 59, twenty-five years after his conversion, he is still telling about his encounter with Jesus with a freshness and a conviction as though it had happened just the day before.
Paul’s story is not in a church after a powerful worship service. He is telling his story in Jerusalem to a hostile mob. Their hostility is in chapter 21, when they beat him and have him in chains. But Paul wants to speak, which is what we read in chapter 22. This is what Paul says to the hostiles:
“It happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’ But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.” (verses 6-11)
There’s an old saying, “A man who has an argument is always at the mercy of a man who has an experience.” Paul had an experience that he is willing to die for. It’s so important to him, in fact, that he tells that story three times in the book of Acts. The last time he tells it is in Acts 26, which is AD 62, twenty-eight years after his conversion.
Your story of you and God is powerful. It’s not old though you may be. It is important and people need to hear it. And you need to tell it. When you don’t know what to say when you are engaged in a talk about religion with someone, tell them your story. Ask them, “Can I tell you my personal story that changed me forever?” Paul did that, and his audience was a tough crowd.
But also, your story never gets old. Tell it even if it’s thirty years old. You may be older but God is the same. It’s still effective. It seems there is no expiration date on telling it. That’s what we see with the apostle Paul.
One of my spiritual heroes and ministry partners is ex-gang member Nicky Cruz. His story is told in The Cross and the Switchblade. Nicky was part of the notorious New York City gang, the Mau Maus. David Wilkerson went to New York City in 1958 and won Nicky to the Lord.
I’ve had the privilege to preach with Nicky around the world, and each time he will tell his conversion story, much as Paul did, with the same passion and conviction. No matter how many years had passed since Nicky’s story, it’s powerful every time. His story has literally brought tens of thousands to Christ.
Don’t underestimate the power of your testimony. It’s funny, Paul never referred to his Epistles when he talked to people. He never said, “I wrote this letter that one day will be part of the Bible, so you should listen.” He told his story. Before you quote the Bible, you may be able to lessen the gap for people by telling them what changed your life.
When you tell your story, as Paul did, you are using one of the weapons God gave us to conquer the devil. Listen to it in the book of Revelation: “They defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony” (Revelation 12:11, TLB).
You may think, my story is not that great. It may not be as dramatic as Nicky’s or Paul’s, but it’s still powerful. Consider what Louie Giglio said about testimonies:
People say all the time “I don’t have a good testimony” because they think their story has to involve some dramatic story of change from “bad” to “good.” But Jesus didn’t come to save people this way. Sin doesn’t make us bad, it makes us dead. Jesus came to save by bringing the dead to life. And that’s an amazing testimony.
That means, you too have an amazing testimony. Share it.