Reformed Articles

End-of-life testimonies

This post was originally published on this site
There’s a genre of conversion testimonies. I believe this originated in the evangelical faith. After all, if you’re a cradle Catholic, you were supposedly born again during infant baptism. 

There are variations on the formula. Most common is how individuals became Christian in their teens or twenties. Another variation is individuals raised in the faith. They never rejected the faith, but the testimony is about how they came to personally embrace the faith they were raised in. This may often include a crisis of faith in college. 

These testimonies can be inspirational, which is why it’s a popular genre. I read an edifying example just recently:

I’m an ex-Sikh, I grew up going to a c of e school and we sang hymns every morning in assembly. I was only a child but many of those hymns had something about them that even as a Sikh child I felt moved and imagined the scene of a green hill and Christ being nailed to a cross on top of the hill. This was one of my very favourite hymns. Now when I was hit 23-yrs of age I converted to Christianity after an experience with the Lord. It’s been 28 yrs and I’m so glad Jesus died for me. Glory to God for His saving grace.

But there are limitations to the genre. It freezes the individual in the past. But not everyone who begins the race crosses the finish line. Some drop out. And even for those who persevere, at that age their reasons are thinner. Over a lifetime, the reasons may change, evolve, be augmented, or replaced with deeper reasons. Approaching the end of life, they will have thicker reasons for their faith, due to all the life experience under their belt. 

Some Christians suffer a crisis of faith later in life. Although it may be intellectual, it’s my impression that it’s more likely to be an emotional crisis of faith brought on personal tragedy and disappointment, like a family tragedy. Some pilgrims survive the crisis, but it leaves them emotionally damaged. They get through it but they don’t get over it. A classic example is Jeremiah. Surely he was emotionally damaged by all the pain.

Some trees flourish and grow into shapely specimens. Others are killed by lightning, forest fire, or parasites. Others survive, but battered and broken. Disfigured. In a way, that’s more inspiring that picture perfect trees. 

End-of-life testimonies would be more useful than conversion testimonies. That’s a gift which pilgrims on the way out should share with pilgrims on the way in.