Defining Moments

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Portbraddon on the North Coast of Northern Ireland.

I’m off to the North Coast this weekend with a group of men from Moira Baptist Church – they take themselves up to a hostel by the sea this time every year (they have little imagination in terms of inviting speakers, so this is my third year with them).

The theme of the weekend is Defining Moments. One of the leaders I interviewed for my ‘crucible‘ research talked about a time when his plans for his life were turned on their head: it was a defining moment that taught him what it meant to allow God to direct his life (he has subsequently had a long and fruitful ministry).

In our lifetimes, most people make relatively few really major decisions that require hours of thought or that result in a significant change of direction (it might be different if you are a head of state or the commander of your country’s armed forces). For many people it’s limited to various permutations about which career path to follow, who to marry or where to live. On the other hand, life is made up of 1001 moments, the seemingly small decisions (some of them are genuinely small – what breakfast cereal did you have this morning or are you an avocado and poached egg person?) that make up our day, sometimes without us being aware of them.

Over the weekend I’m going to be talking about a couple of major defining moments that were encountered by two biblical characters. One is Nehemiah whose life direction was changed on the back of the news that his brother brought him from Jerusalem. The other is the story of the temptation of the Lord Jesus when he was offered a series of shortcuts that would have eliminated the need to follow the painful path of obedience and trust.

But we’re also going to be thinking about some of the 1001 everyday situations that shape our lives. What’s the point on me focussing all my attention on waiting for a one in a lifetime (if even) ‘call’ experience like that of Nehemiah or one of the other biblical characters to go and do something significant, if I don’t treat my wife well?

What do you think? Has your life been shaped more by the small number of big decisions you’ve made or is it defined more by the everyday choices you make – both good and bad?

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