Sunday, June 4

Moments that change the course of our lives

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!


Ken Sorrell said...

It was my eight grade year in high school. Our church's youth minister Ken Gunter, called me into his office one Sunday evening before church services began. He told me that he wanted me to give a speech at this year's upcoming Youth's Bible Drill and Speaker's Tournament. Being very small for my age and extremely shy, I quickly told him no, that I would not do this and that he was crazy. He then proceeded to tell me that he had already signed me up and the only two options available to me were to try or to have everyone wonder why I had not shown up. I stormed out of his office furious. After I had calmed down Ken came up to me again and let me know that he would help me every step of the way. To make a long story short, I actually reached the state finals and finished second, yes to a girl. However, winning or losing did not really matter by this point in time. God used an over zealous youth minister to push me out of my comfort zone and shell to teach me to depend on Him and, that God could use even a short, skinny, shy guy. Looking back, it was at this moment that God set my life on a journey that would allow me to see Him use me in a local church setting and now on the international mission field. Needless to say, He has been pushing me out of my comfort zones for a long time.

Kiki Cherry said...

One moment that really changed me occurred just a few years ago.

All of my life I have struggled to understand the concept of grace. I knew it intellectually, but we live in such a performance-based world that I still fall back on the tendency to try to "earn" God's approval.

I had come to a point both in my personal and my professional life where I was running on empty. I was pushing through on my own strength, not in the Word of God daily like I needed to be, and it was beginning to show.

My well-constructed facade was beginning to crack. Then I messed up BIG TIME in my job. Actually I messed up in my life. One little compromise led to another sin, and they just dominoed from there.

My director at the time had to call me on the carpet. We had a tearful meeting and a disciplinary note was placed in my file.

I was crushed!!!! I really loved, respected and looked up to my director, and thought his disapproval was going to kill me.

I also thought that God would abandon me over this.

But it was in the depths that God spoke to me. I realized that I was fully responsible for my circumstances, and there was nothing I could do to change what had happened.

I went running that night, and literally ran until I threw up. Then right there, on a dusty, country road, I lay face down and cried out to God.

It was that night I started to understand grace for the first time. I FELT God wrap His arms around me, and had such a reassurance of His love. I understood for the first time that He really does love me, a wretched sinner.

My Director also forgave and restored me in a way that I had not seen practiced before. I was accustomed to seeing condemnation leading to despair. When people messed up, that was it!!! Their life in ministry was over!!!

But he showed me godly discipline which led to GRACE. And today I'm a better minister for it.

It has impacted the way I see God, broken my pride, and changed how I treat those around me.

Although I am still grieved that I made choices and brought shame to God's name, I am so grateful for the amazing experience of His grace.

Psalm 103:8 "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and ABOUNDING in lovingkindness."

GuyMuse said...

Ken & Kiki,

Two GREAT stories. Thanks for your transparency and for sharing them with all of us who have read your comments. They ought to stand alone as individual posts they are so good!

I believe, teach, and practice with the Guayaquil house churches James 5:16 where we are admonished to "confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed..." I believe the humility that James speaks of in chapter four is accomplished in our lives by transparent confession of sin one to another. This is not something most of us usually practice, but I do believe it is a valid NT practice and is the reason there are so many "sick" amongst us. We are disobedient to this command of Scripture. Harboring sin in our lives creates pride and pride has to be broken if God is ever going to use us.

At our recent camp I was amazed that one of our leaders confessed his sin before a group of us men, a terrible sin that had plagued him for years. It was embarrasing and yet by confessing he was healed and released. The following night he was in charge of the large group service and was used mighily of God to effect healing in many other people's lives. He started out by being open and transparent about his own life, and this led to a powerful testimony that touched many people that evening.

Thanks again, for sharing.