May 19, 2002
TAKING THE WITNESS STAND
Terry L. Brensinger, Ph.D., Pastor
The Grantham Church
I have always enjoyed courtroom dramas. While I very much like the pre-trial investigations and inquiries, the courtroom scene itself is my favorite. The audience gathers, and the judge, jury, defendant, prosecutor, and legal counsel all take their places. As the tension rises, a crucial witness approaches the stand and testifies. In some cases, such a testimony can change the entire direction of the trial.
The scene depicted here in Psalm 105 is similar to a courtroom drama, although the mood is drastically different. Rather than criminal charges, there are accolades and high-fives. Rather than tension, there is an overwhelming mood of celebration. Gods people are invited to take the witness stand, if you will, and testify. Make known his deeds among the peoples, and tell of all his wonderful works. Share your testimonies, they are told. And, as in a courtroom, such a testimony can alter the course, not just of a single trial, but of an individuals and even an entire communitys future.
Why should Gods people share their testimonies with others? After all, some of these wonderful people who will soon tell their stories are nervous, and they are welcome to worship with us here whether they do this or not. Why testify?
Our testimonies, for one thing, give glory to God. Picture for one moment a famous novelist who has worked long hours to write a new book. Somehow, just prior to the completion of the project, another person confiscates the manuscript and publishes it under his own name. In the legal battle that would inevitably follow, everyone would anxiously wait to find out the truth. Suddenly, someone takes the witness stand and says, This book was stolen and published under false pretenses. I know, the witness continues, because I am the real writers secretary and I have the earlier drafts and disks to prove that she wrote it. When we testify, we give God glory. God has done wonderful things for me. He has been with me through thick and thin. My life used to be a mess, but God in his mercy has delivered me. It wasnt just the self-help group, as useful as that was. It wasnt simply my own determination and talents. God did it. When we share our testimonies, we point out what God has done for us and we give him the credit.
Further, when we testify, we encourage and strengthen others who gather around us. Some in the courtroom are searching for the truth, and a testimony might very well help them to find it. Others no doubt know the truth, but feel as though it is being silenced and ignored. Still others were perhaps affected by the same events leading up to the trail, and the witness testimony creates common ground and understanding. When a witness takes the stand and tells the truth, someone in the crowd surely responds, So that is what really happened. Someone else joyfully blurts out, I knew it. I knew that the defendant was innocent, and Im glad that everyone else knows it now too. Who knows, another onlooker might very well say, What that witness went through is precisely what happened to me. I thought I was the only one.
My grandfather, as I have often said, was an extremely important person in my life. Among the many things he said to me and did for me over the years, the way he described the morning after he committed his life to Christ stands out clearly in my mind today. The sky was so much bluer, he said with his Pennsylvania Dutch drawl, and the grass so green. The whole world around me looked so different. God had changed my life. When we share our testimonies together, we encourage and strengthen others, and we also provide points of contact for people who have experienced things very similar to us.
Finally, when we testify, we typically renew our own spirits. One can sense the enthusiasmthe unbridled release of emotionhere in Psalm 105. There is something very healthy about speaking the truth. There is a certain catharsis in getting something off of our chests, and a profound degree of satisfaction in knowing that our words bring glory to God and help to others. When we share our testimonies, even if and perhaps especially if we are initially uneasy, our own souls experience renewal.
Our congregation is gathered here this morning, and there are certain similarities to a courtroom drama. There is, however, no overbearing or ungracious judge, no ruthless accusations, and no death sentence waiting to be handed down. Our mood is festive, the occasion one of great celebration. We at the Grantham Church have been blessed with all of these wonderful people who are joining us. Ive met with them, prayed with them, and hugged them. Listen carefully to their testimonies. They come to glorify God, encourage and strengthen you, and renew their own spirits.