Today at my conference, we did a testimony workshop. We were given a general outline, and then time to work so that if we were ever asked our reason for believing in Christ, we would be prepared with an answer. Since my testimony is a lot about you, I am going to share it with you here. I really just spoke from the heart when I stood up front and told it to the rest of the group. So while I don’t have the exact same words, I am going to type from the heart and hope it comes out similarly.
(Editor's note: I warned the group as I got up that since I couldn't make it through their testimonies without crying, I couldn't hope to make it through my own. But I promised to try to avoid the "ugly cry". There was only one small moment where I got a little choked up, but made it through semigracefully.)
“I had a great life growing up. Nothing tragic ever happened, I never had any hardships. I am one of those who, until recently, would have said, 'My testimony is so boring.' I was raised in a godly home, and knew early in life that God loved me so much that he sent his son to die in order to pay the price for my sins, and then to rise from the dead so that I can spend eternity with him. I had good friends, good teachers. I went to a private Christian school through 8th grade, then transferred to a public school where I met my future husband. We went to the University of Texas, graduated and got married. Ten days later I became pregnant. So much for our five year plan.
“Audrey was born 9 months later with a rare genetic disorder called Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome. She had her first surgery at 5 days old and has had at least a dozen more since then. We spent nine weeks in the NICU testing everything you can think of, at least twice. And almost everything you can think of came back with something wrong.
“The first six weeks before we received a diagnosis we weren’t sure if it was genetic or environmental. I was asked all sorts of questions about my pregnancy and lifestyle and family history. Now it’s clear to me that the doctors must have known it was genetic. But at the time, a lot of guilt was associated with the idea that this might be because of something I did or didn’t do. I went over every event of my seemingly perfect pregnancy looking for something I might have overlooked.
“Maybe my once weekly soda was too much caffeine. What if I took too many baths that were too hot? I went to a Caedmon’s Call concert early in the second trimester. It was really, REALLY loud. I could feel the vibrations in my core. Did it shake her up too much? These are the types of ridiculous thoughts I entertained for that month and a half.
“Often, well meaning friends would point me to the passage in John were the disciples asked Jesus of a certain blind man, ‘Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
“Jesus’ response: ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me.’
"I knew the hearts of my friends who reminded me of this. They wanted me to know that it wasn’t my fault, that this was God’s will for her life. But to be perfectly honest, that verse didn’t make me feel better. It hurt my feelings. Deep down I thought, Really? God is so big and so powerful, he chooses to make my sweet baby suffer every day to bring himself glory? How selfish. Couldn’t he find another way? That doesn’t sound like my God.
“Then one Sunday, God spoke directly to me through my wise and sweet Sunday school teacher. She reminded my class of how in the original language, there were no capital letters, no punctuation, no paragraph breaks.
“The NIV reads like this:
‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me.’
“But perhaps Jesus said it more like this:
‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened. So that the works of God might be displayed in him, as long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me.’
“These things happen. And they suck. And we wish they didn’t. But God doesn’t necessarily cause them in order to bring glory to his name. When they happen due to sin in the world, he USES them to bring glory to his name. That sounds more like my God. Able to make something so precious out of something so apparently sad.
“Audrey is one of the best things to have ever happened to us. We have had some tough moments, but overall she has brought us an abundance of joy and laughter. People from literally all over the world know of her, follow her blog and love her. Countless people have told me that because of sweet Audrey, they don’t take for granted the health of their children anymore. Or they have cut back on complaining, because if Audrey can be so happy in her circumstance, they can too. I was told of a woman who realized she needed to reconcile a relationship because of Audrey. This little girl who is “capable” of so little has touched so many people and made an impact on more than just her little world. I am sure there are many other examples that I won’t be told till I am on the other side of heaven. And when that happens, Audrey can listen to the stories with me because she will be healthy and whole and just as beautiful as she is now.”