Jeremiah was in prison, but had a message to get out. He dictated the message to Baruch, who then took it and read it aloud to others.
16 When they heard all the messages, they looked at one another in alarm. “We must tell the king what we have heard,” they said to Baruch. Jeremiah 36:16 NLT.
(Not everyone appreciated this message. King Jehoiakim burned the scroll.)
Paul stood before King Agrippa with the opportunity to speak his defense. He told his message to a full room.
19 “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. 21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.” Acts 26:19-23 NLT.
While hearts may not have been convicted in that moment, Paul left an impression.
32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.” Acts 26:32 NLT.
Naomi and Ruth were both widowed. Naomi told her daughters-in-law to go back to their mothers and start over. But Ruth stayed, pledging loyalty and companionship to Naomi.
15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more. Ruth 1:15-18 NLT.
Testimony can affect a community, a full room, an individual.
1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. Psalm 9:1 NLT
Our dog ran away yesterday, and my kids were crushed. I searched through neighboring back yards. We got in the car and drove around. No dog. So I prayed out loud in the car while we searched. Prayed that God would watch over our dog and return her to us unharmed. It was a risky prayer–there are many acres of forest around us, and high-speed roads. So many what-ifs … (Thankfully, a few hours later a nearby farm owner spotted our dog swimming in their pond and called us.)
I praised the Lord the drive home, with stinky pond dog in the back seat.
I know, too, sometimes answered prayers don’t look the way I thought they would. Years of struggle and effort and striving were fruitless. I sat at night at the Lord’s feet and cried to him. In that season, the sadness and disappointment and confusion brought me closer to the Lord. In those circumstances and through his word, I began to know him better. Trust was strengthened. When others abandoned, the Lord did not.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Psalm 9:10 NLT.
God uses the happy endings, and the not-so-happy endings. In any case, I will testify of something, and that testimony will speak to others.
Father, thank you for examples like Paul, Ruth and Jeremiah–people who had a message to share, whose lives and messages still influence today. Help me to be mindful that my words and actions send a message too.