The Word of our Testimony: Jim Joyce

In tandem with our sermon series on the Book of Acts, we thought it would be helpful if the leadership of the church each shared their testimony. Testimonies are powerful. They’re personal stories of what God has done in our lives. Along with the blood of Jesus, Revelation 12:11 says that we overcome the Enemy by the “word of our testimony.” Our hope is that through this series of articles, your faith will be strengthened, you’ll get to know all of us better, and you’ll see that Jesus can and does redeem all kinds of people in all kinds of ways.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church. My family went to church every time the church doors opened. I accepted Jesus as my savior when I was 12 years old. During college and law school, I drifted away from attending church.

After moving to Roanoke, I quickly found a church and plugged in. Once again, I went to church regularly, taught Sunday School, and served on nearly every committee. I knew Jesus as my Savior, but I did not allow Him to be my Lord.

At first, I seemed to be successful in most everything. As things began going sideways, I quickly assumed I just needed to work harder and smarter. I read every secular self-help book I could find. The harder I tried to be in control, the worse things became. I continued to blame myself for not working hard enough to make me, and all those close to me, happy. I knew Jesus as my solid foundation, but I still did not invite him to be Lord of my life.

Finally, at age 42, it all came unraveled and crashed around me. I remember as clear as though it happened minutes ago. I was in a hospital bed awaiting surgery, unable even to go to the bathroom on my own, and physical problems were only the half of it all. I finally realized I was neither in control nor capable of being in control. I asked Jesus to be my Lord and to help me carry the heavy burden.

I had repeated many times Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” But, I had never taken His yoke upon me. That night I surrendered. Immediately, the heavy load tangibly lifted from my body. For the first time, I experienced what He meant by saying His burden is light.

With Jesus as my Lord, life has not been a straight, always happy journey. I back slide, and bad things have happened and still happen. My reaction is very different now. Instead of futile self-help, I lean into Jesus. I have a Lord who walks with me and who is always in control. His joy is always with me, even when my circumstances do not seem to warrant joy. As He promised, the burden is so much lighter. Life is so much fuller. He came that we might have life more abundantly. (John 10:10) He keeps His promises!

Jim Joyce
Elder