You know how there are those Bible verses that you hear 1,000 times and then, one day, certain words just pop out at you that never really registered before? Information that should have been so obvious is suddenly new.
That’s how I feel about Revelation 12:11. Actually, that’s how I often feel about the entire book of Revelation (similar to how I feel when I hear “Despacito,” even the Bieber version, because it’s all in a language I don’t understand), but that’s a topic for another day…and hopefully another writer!
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.Revelation 12:11, NKJV (emphasis mine)
The Message says it this way: “They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and the bold word of their witness.”
Two important pieces here (Well, two that I’m going to focus on):
1. They overcame.
2. They did so by the word of their testimony.
Let’s not gloss over the part in between – the part where they overcame because of Jesus’s blood – but that’s the story of Easter and most of us have probably heard it. The blood of Jesus has already been shed, paying for all our sins in full. It is finished. Hallelujah! 🙌
But back to the testimony part. There are TWO steps to us overcoming, according to Revelation 12:11. One: by the blood of the Lamb, which has already been done. Two: by the word of our testimony.
Are you, by chance, missing one of those steps in your own life? (Asking for a friend.)
I was, for a really, really long time. Like, the majority of my life.
Honestly, I can’t remember ever sharing my testimony until I publicly posted my healing story several weeks after it had happened and I was reasonably sure it was for real and wasn’t going to be reversed.
For most of my life, I claimed I didn’t have a testimony. And I believed that, but I also wanted to make it clear that I wouldn’t be doing any public speaking. (Ha!)
Growing up in the church, I heard all these wild, dramatic testimonies of missionaries being killed in jungles for Jesus, of meth addicts going through Teen Challenge and turning into preachers, and of teen moms who became spokeswomen for life and purity and all things moral and upstanding.
Those stories were really cool. Highly inspirational. Incredibly amazing.
And nothing like my own.
My life was bo-ring. I lived in a small town and I had normal parents with normal rules that I obeyed except for when I fought like cats and dogs with my brothers. I grudgingly endured school every day so I could get home and reward myself with Double Stuf Oreos and Disney Channel Original programming.
I had nothing in common with missionaries in the South American jungles and, quite frankly, I didn’t want to. Their stories were neat, but I had no desire to become a missionary or relocate to a remote village where nobody spoke English.
I did, however, wish my own story was a little more exciting.
Be careful what you wish for!
My life remained relatively uneventful until I was halfway through college. Primarily because I didn’t do anything scary, risky, or brave at all.
And then I did. A couple times. Small things.
And all of a sudden I had a more exciting testimony.
My testimony got pretty interesting once I hit my 20s, and you’ve probably read the major storylines around here if you’ve been following me for long.
The truth is, I did have a testimony before I ever dared to take a single risk in life (You know, 20 years in 😉). Friends who had grown up in less “normal” homes than I would tell me they wished they had my testimony. They were impressed by how I’d remained “faithful” thus far in my life – but, really, my parents made it easy for me to stay on the straight and narrow. Because they had, too. They set a good example. They made their expectations clear. And, for the most part, I followed them. I didn’t want to get my TV privileges taken away, after all.
But, as with most of us, the older you get, the more experiences you have. Whether you ever take a risk or not.
Over time I’ve discovered that if your life is boring, A) you’re probably not making much of a contribution to the world for Jesus so you’re therefore not facing much opposition (This was me), and/or B) you will probably have a run-in with a pretty big storm before long (This was also me).
Whether you’ve weathered storm after storm after storm or you’ve remained fairly under-the-radar (Sorry, lame pun), here’s the thing: YOU HAVE A TESTIMONY.
You’ve never broken a single rule in your life? That’s amazing! You have an incredible testimony of faithfulness. You’re doing a good job of following Jesus’s example of obedience. This is inspiring!
You’ve broken every single rule there is to be broken, but you’ve repented and overcome some big (or small) obstacles? That’s amazing too! You have an incredible testimony of restoration. You have a cool story of obedience, too, especially since you can tell everyone else firsthand about the consequences of disobedience and how it’s never too late to start over. This is inspiring!
No matter where you find yourself on the continuum, you’ve got a story, it’s uniquely yours, and it’s beneficial for others to hear. The Bible is full of people on the same continuum, from the holier-than-thous to the murderers.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s not actually a continuum. A sin is a sin is a sin, and we’re all sinners. None of us is any worse than another.
We’ve all got our dirty laundry, whether it’s punishable by law or not. We’ve all got stories to tell.
And we need to get better at telling them.
I was insecure as a kid because I didn’t think I had a testimony, but that’s probably because I never heard any other testimonies like mine. I only heard the super-dramatic ones.
I realize now that hearing someone else say she’d grown up in a Christian home and chose to continue following Jesus in college even when others ditched their faith would have encouraged me in my own “boring” walk. Or maybe someone would have told how his “boring” Christian upbringing prepared him to take a risk for God one day when an unexpected and scary opportunity arose.
Whatever your story is, someone out there needs to hear it.
Is there something in your life that you’re struggling to overcome? I ask you this: Have you shared any part of your testimony recently? The Word says that you will overcome the enemy by the blood of Jesus and the word of your testimony. Jesus has already done a whole lot for us – much more than we’ll ever deserve – but we’ve got our part to do, too. Maybe speaking out about your story will be the key to your breakthrough.
I know it’s scary. It’s risky (and you’re talking to a former Taker of Zero Risks Ever here). But it’s also powerful!
Think of every person whose story has influenced YOU. Your parents, friends, role models, mentors. Famous people. Teachers. Pastors. Relatives. Random people on social media.
Their stories might not always be that dramatic, but they’re powerful. And yours is, too.
Start small. Share something little with a friend – or stranger, if that’s easier for you. (Sometimes it is for me!)
Tell others about the unexpected blessings God has provided, what he has brought you through, what he’s done in you, what he means to you. Tell others what you’ve survived, where you’ve thrived, where your lowest point was and what it looked like to get out of it.
Tell others what you’ve overcome and what you’re hoping to overcome.
Not only will you potentially help them overcome some of those very same things, but you’ll be paving your own way to overcome, too, because you overcome through the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.
It says it right there in the Bible, but it never clicked for me before.
If you’ve made it all the way through this post and you still doubt you have a testimony, share the biggest one we all have: THE testimony – the story of how Jesus died to save every one of us! He died for you, and that’s a pretty big testimony right there.
You have a testimony, and through it you shall overcome!
Feel free to practice sharing your testimony – big or small! – below. I’d love to read it and I have a hunch other readers will be inspired, too!