One of the most powerful influences in my life was my Mother. Though not well educated or widely traveled, there was a strength about her that helped shape my life and make me the person I am today.
Though she would not have known the term “defining moment,” marrying at the age of seventeen, giving birth to three babies and losing a her young husband and oldest child, all within the span of six years, created within my Mom a strength and determination that served her well throughout life setting an invaluable example for her offspring.
Looking back on her life now, I am sure my Mother would acknowledge that those particular events brought about fundamental changes that defined, to a great degree, the person she became.
A defining moment is a point in your life when you are forced to make a decision that will change everything. It will change you, your outlook, and your behavior.
Every life is a series of defining moments that shape and change us—moments that have a huge influence on our development and our choices. These moments aren’t easy to recognize except in hindsight, but they are the moments that determine who we are and will be—the moments that shape everything that matters to us.
Some of these moments are positive, and some are negative, but that doesn’t matter. The importance lies in how we respond to them.
This morning, I am looking back on some of those defining moments that made me the gal I am today, and I am remembering the summer of 1968 and a church family camp in Prescott, Arizona.
I had just finished my eighth year as a public school teacher. I enjoyed teaching, and I was good at it, but when I dared admit it, there was, deep in the recesses of my heart, a disappointment that could not be quelled.
From my earliest days, I knew that God had a plan for my life. There was something He wanted me to do, but not knowing what it was or how to find out, I just did what I thought best. I became a teacher. After all, I might need to make a living for myself.
I loved my long, leisure summer days apart from my fourth graders, but my determined Mother had another idea. She suggested it would be nice, if I would take her and some of her friends for a few days to family camp. I couldn’t say “no.” So off to Prescott we went.
Little did I know that this was one of God’s defining moments—a life changing moment.
I had not really wanted to go to camp, but the first day on the grounds, Jack, a young man in whom I was greatly interested, showed up. Camp wasn’t a total waste after all.
After taking my Mom and her friends back to the valley I returned to camp. God used that return trip to soften me up. Alone in the car, I thought about Jack.
With tears, I demanded, “Why, God?” I’m lonely. Why can’t I have a man like Jack?
It is amazing the things and people God uses to bring us to the place where we can hear his voice.
The camp speaker was a man from Montana. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. Many were blessed by his ministry, but I am totally convinced that God sent Reverend Goodman to Prescott, Arizona just for me. God does things like that, you know.
After his ministry of the Word, I wept at an old fashioned altar. Not conscious of praying words, my heart, without restraint, flowed out to God. He knew the longing, the confusion, the disappointment, the doubt, the fear.
Reverend Goodman prayed with me. At the nudging of the Holy Spirit, he talked with me telling me things about myself that only God and I knew. He shared his own ministry experiences encouraging me to open my heart and life to others—to become vulnerable.
I left that camp totally changed. My life was never again the same. There is no way to explain it. It was God’s defining moment.
I had already signed a contract, so I taught one more year before launching into full time ministry—a ministry that was as varied as the colors in a rainbow and extended to many parts of the world.
There is an overwhelming joy in my heart as I remember nearly fifty years of ministry experiences and the lives that have been changed, and I think, “what if I had said no?” How different life would have been!
Among all the decisions I have made in my life, two standout—the moment, when as a child, I decided to follow Jesus, and the moment, as an adult, when I said “yes” to God’s call to service. Those are the moments that defined my life and made me who I am today.
Your life is a composite of all the decisions you make. It is all but impossible to make the right decision on your own. Think of the mistakes and hurts you could avoid, if you had the right counsel—divine counsel.
Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”
Commit yourself and every decision to God. Let Him define your life.
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!