[Originally found in Day 37, I've broken this exercise out into a post of its own.]
Your Personal Story
A helpful exercise for this stage of growth is to write out your story of reconciliation with God – how you came to accept his offer of covenant relationship through Jesus Christ – and the impact it has had on your life. (This is what many call a testimony.) Sharing our personal story is the most powerful hesed tool for developing community life as well as for evangelism.
Sharing stories is a way for people to get to know each other better. It is a way of sharing deeply personal information that encourages growth. Keeping covenant with one another means that we promote each other’s best interest. In today’s language this means that we are accountable to one another for doing what is right. When we share deep spiritual things – like our stories – we are then able to ask to be kept accountable. This can be especially helpful in those areas of our lives where we are most vulnerable.
While writing your story is very personal and very individual, it might be helpful to have a brief outline – just to get your thoughts together. If you need some help getting started, perhaps this will help you:
Write down two dates: the date (as close as you can remember) you accepted God’s offer of adoption (If you have a vivid memory of the exact moment of decision, write down as many details as you can.); and the date you were baptized. (Assuming you belong to a tradition that baptizes; try to remember as many details as possible.)
Make a list of those persons and events that were significant to your journey.
Write down significant changes (in your actions and attitudes) that have happened in your life as a result of deciding to follow Jesus. These could be in your personal life or at home, school, work, church or the community at large.
Write down signs of growth and maturity that you have seen – or others have mentioned seeing – since deciding to follow Jesus.
After you’ve had an opportunity to brainstorm through these four suggestions, ask God to help you put it all together in a story that you can tell. Write your story down on one page, if you can. Try to tell it in less than five minutes. Be prepared for it to take much longer…sometimes the Spirit calls us to share more, depending on the circumstances.
From time to time, re-read your story. You will find that it will encourage you, too…and that it calls for regular updating!