Defining Moments

Defining Moments

I’ve been thinking about events in my life recently and the impact they’ve had on who I’ve become as an adult. describes a defining moment as an event which typifies or determines all subsequent related occurrences; a point at which the essential nature or character of a person, group, etc., is revealed or identified.

Experiencing God, the group study by Henry and Richard Blackaby calls these spiritual markers – those times in life when you can see the hand of God in your life. Sometimes they are positive and sometimes they are negative, but you can see God at work. Most often, I’ve seen these in hindsight rather than at the time they were happening.

Spiritual markers – those times in life when you can see God's hand in your life.

You may already be thinking of some of those times in your own life. Perhaps you were the first in your family to graduate from college; or your career took on a trajectory you could never have imagined; or the birth of your first child; perhaps it was an illness or difficulty in your life that caused you to see God’s hand at work.

We often claim Romans 8:28 to bring comfort to us in trying times. It says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Another verse we like to quote is Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We read these words and find comfort that God will work out whatever it is because we love Him, and He has a plan for our lives.  (Unfortunately, we don’t often see these verses in the context of the original writing but that’s for another blog!)

Part of the Experiencing God journey is to write down your spiritual marker or defining moments where you saw God at work. It’s an interesting assignment and I’ve updated/changed mine over the years.

I included when I was saved, a girls group that I was part of for 6 or 7 years that provided a lot of spiritual formation, a pastor’s wife who took a lot of interest in helping me grow and develop skills that could be used anywhere. I also included my marriage, the birth of my son, my divorce, single parenting years, profound advice I was given and more.

Part of my journey included a lot of moving and learning to trust God in the journey. I had a desire to attend college but didn’t have any resources to use. All my friends and my pastor told me this was a foolish move, but I knew God was calling me. I left my hometown for the first time at 35 to go to college (that was a defining moment!). Did I mention I worked fulltime, had a 15-year-old son and took care of my elderly great aunt, all while attending college. As part of this experience, my fulltime work was at the college and included 100% tuition remission. My education was free!

My defining moment was in how God worked all that out for me. I was amazed. I knew He wanted me to go, everyone I knew said, “NO, bad idea!” I trusted God and discovered that He alone can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us … (Ephesians 3:20).

I learned more about God through that experience than I had in everything up to then. My defining moments have grown and developed through the years. I discovered I had an idol (my hometown) and that God said, “… you shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3)” and I learned to let my idol go.

I’ve learned through these defining moments that God is who He says is and He will do what He says and what He knows is right and best for me and for His plan for the world.  My job is to trust Him through it all. Over the years I’ve had enormous blessings, met fabulous people, traveled extensively, made great friends and have found favor with God. What more could one want in life!!

The next time God asks you to trust Him and when everything is screaming, “No!” Trust Him and discover a lifetime of amazing, awesome and life-changing defining moments. I can’t wait to see what is next.

How about you? Are you ready?

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Karen McGuire

Karen McGuire came to Lead Like Jesus in February 2004 following the first Lead Like Jesus Celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, in November 2003, where she served as the volunteer coordinator. She comes with vast experience in local church ministry and denominational work and has been instrumental in the formation of several successful nonprofit ventures, including two churches, a seminary, a medical missions organization, and a welfare-to-work program. Karen served on several church staffs, held many volunteer positions in her local church, and is a Bible study teacher and seminar and retreat leader. She has one son and two young adult granddaughters.

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