Can you recall moments or decisions that changed the course of your life?
All of us continually come to cross-roads in our life where a choice has to be made. That choice leads to a whole set of differing circumstances and our life is altered from what "might have been" due to our choice.
I can recall one such experience that changed my life.
It was the summer of the year I entered 10th grade. Our family was spending the year on furlough in Enid, OK as the "missionaries in residence" with Emmanuel Baptist Church. Yes, I know that Bro. Wade Burlesson is the current pastor of Emmanuel, but back then it was Bobby Sunderland--who I thought was the greatest preacher in the world! Every Sunday I would go to him after the service and say, "Bro. Bobby, that was the best sermon I have ever heard (and meant it.)" He would laugh and say something like, "I guess I'll just have to work that much harder to make sure next week's is even better!" While Bro. Bobby's preaching was making an impact upon a young sophmore, it was actually another event that summer that changed the course of my life...
One summer evening, all the youth were invited to hear some big OU football star give his testimony. Being an MK from Ecuador and not having grown up with college football, OU meant nothing to me, and the "star" speaker was just another name. As a shy newcomer, and not knowing any of the other youth, I chose to sit by myself on the very top row of the balcony. Personally I felt it was a better vantage point to check out all the cute Okie girls that had helped pack the sanctuary!
I don't remember anything the football jock shared that afternoon. All I remember was his invitation. He challenged everyone present to spend just 5-MINUTES a day with God in prayer and reading the Scripture. But he made it a bit tougher. He asked us to make a promise to God to do this for a year. A promise to God was something serious. I remember him reading some verse out of Ecclesiastes to that effect.
The words that changed my life that evening were...
"All those who would promise God to read the Bible and pray for 5-minutes daily for an entire year, raise your hand."
Being on the top row I peeked to see how many were raising their hand. There were a few, but not as many as I had thought should raise their hand. As I sat there judging everyone else, it dawned on me, that I had not raised my hand. I knew how serious a matter it was to promise God something, but made the decision on the spot to raise my hand. I left it high in the air until the football star said, "I see that hand on the back row..."
That very day I began my one-year vow. I sat down with my Living Bible and waited till the seconds ticked up to the "12" and then very legalistically began my five-minutes with God. This continued every day for an entire year. I never missed a day, even though there were several near-misses. One in particular when that winter we went to Falls Creek for a youth retreat. I had gone all day without my "five" and that night a little before mid-night the Lord woke me reminding me of the fact. I got up, put on some clothers, and went out into the cold night to the bathrooms adjacent to the dorms where we were staying...sat down in one of the stalls, clocked my five minutes, and then went back to my warm sleeping bag in the dorm!
My life has never been the same since those daily five-minute encounters with the Lord. They literally changed the course of my life. It was in my sophmore year that I really met God and established a life-long relationship with Him. Yes, I know five minutes isn't much time, but it changed the course of my life forever.
Today, as a missionary, we teach all new believers to spend SEVEN MINUTES a day with God. It is the second lesson after #1, the assurance of salvation. I know from first-hand experience if one develops the daily habit of walking with God his/her life will be changed.
Can you think of a choice you have made that changed the course of your own life? I would love to hear about it!