I have a boring testimony.
People looking for a dramatic example of the transforming power of God should look somewhere else. I have no history of drugs, abuse or trashing hotel rooms. God never reached down and pulled me from the clutches of ruin. My life has been very normal. “Everything is OK!” isn’t a flashy message that’ll grab people’s attention. That guy who never took drugs … still isn’t taking drugs.
I have a lot of friends who weren’t Christian when they were younger. As a result, some of them have pretty wild personal histories involving drugs and sex. They aren’t proud of the past, but a part of me can’t help looking at them with envy. When I listen to someone give a powerful testimony about how their life is so much better than it was before, I start to feel inadequate. I gave my life to Christ at beach camp in high school. Before that I never had the urge to drink or smoke anything illegal. My behavior now is very similar to what it was before I accepted Christ. I can’t proclaim how when I was at my lowest I relied solely on Christ to provide me strength. There’s no obvious before and after or black and white. It’s all monochromatic.
Sometimes I fantasize about being a nonbeliever. I imagine life would be easier because I could satisfy my impulses with no guilt or shame. Sex and crazy parties? Sign me up! That kind of lifestyle has a lot of appeal. How many people would choose to spend a weekend with Rick Warren over a weekend with Lady Gaga? Which party do you think would be more exciting?
I was recently in a Bible study in which we were discussing the parable of the prodigal son. I sympathize with the older brother. I try to behave as a faithful servant and follow the rules, but I constantly struggle and life isn’t quite as I expected it would be. Meanwhile, I see other people sin with ungodly gusto and still stumble forward and succeed.
My reaction toward the prodigal son is like the brother’s—resentment and anger that he is receiving a party for throwing away his father’s wealth. He complains to his father, “When this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you killed the fatted calf for him!” How is that fair when he received nothing for faithfully serving by his father’s side?
A friend in the same study had a different emphasis on the brother’s reaction. He read the passage as, “When this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you killed the fatted calf for him!” I was angry that the son received a reward for crazy behavior while my friend was jealous of the experience of sinful living.
For someone with a very normal, scandal-free life, the grass always seems greener on the other side. That is the great lie that people with dramatic turnarounds understand to be false, and regular people don’t. The grass isn’t greener, but it’s so hard to believe that without actually experiencing it; The lie seems so good from a distance.
And this is when I realize the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The same curiosity that destroyed Adam and Eve exists inside me. I don’t trust that God knows best; I want to experience it myself. Proverbs 23:17-18 warns, “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.”
I’ve traded the truth for a lie. Indulging in sin is never as satisfying or great as we imagine—and following God is never as boring as we make it out to be. God doesn’t make anything boring. We overestimate sin and underestimate righteousness. The appeal of worldly living is a perversion of the truth. But because I have never experienced it, the devil gets in there and tempts me by telling me the world is better than what God has in store for me.
God’s promises are bigger than that. My testimony may seem boring—but a life with Christ never has to be.
Dan Macy lives in Los Angeles and blogs about the intersection of truth and grace for examiner.com.