The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)
Every good story has a moment of crisis. That watershed moment when something happens. It will impact the life of the character. And even though the character can not control the events that are happening, they can control their reaction to the events.
These moments are crucial to a good story. Why? Because that is how change happens. A good story proves we can change. We can grow.
We all have crisis moments. Moments when events loom so large in our lives that we have lost the illusion of control we cling tightly to on the ordinary days. It doesn’t take much thinking to bring them to mind after we’ve come through the crisis. But in the moment, we are rarely aware that how we react will set us on a path toward our future. Our reactions guide that path. We can almost always control our actions if we avoid the knee-jerk reactions that bully us down one path or another, usually same the path we have been on.
I was thinking that in my life there have been big national or international events that have presented such moments, not just for our country, but for me.
After 911, which certainly impacted our national narrative, my career changed drastically. I still had the same employer, my job description did not change. But it immediately redirected my daily tasks toward work called “preparedness”. I could choose: change along with my job responsibilities and be a part of steering the direction of laboratories I worked with, or find a new job. I could also choose my attitude. Choose to be a positive force for change or I could skate through with an attitude. Another option was expressing anger about the changing responsibilities of my job.
Many of you will face challenges, forks in your path. Your response is your choice. And it will determine your future. Will you walk into the future with an awareness that your reactions will determine your outcome?
Every life has these same crisis moments. I pray you don’t take these moments lightly. They are the gateway to your future. Strive for awareness. Pray for awareness. Moments when you feel hijacked by circumstances beyond your control are opportunities. Pause before you react. Think about who you want to be down the road and make choices accordingly.
A Better Illustration
Have you heard of the widow of Zarephath? If not, you may want to look up her story in 1Kings 17:8-24. It’s worth reading.
She’s a widow and a single mother. She’s down to the last groceries in the house. There’s a famine in the land, caused by a drought, and no more supplies are coming. She’s not of the clan of the Israelites, on whom God appears to be focused. They are on the verge of starvation, and a scruffy old prophet of Jehovah Jireh (God our Provider) shows up at her door. He asks, “May I have a cup of water?” She’s low, but thinks, why not? I can be hospitable, I can share my water such as it is. And then he says, “Oh, and can I have a loaf of bread too?” This stops her in her tracks. Taken back at his audacity. Her minds screams, “you must be kidding, are you blind?” But, she responds, “I have only enough to make one last meal for my son and I. We will eat it and then we will die.”
She didn’t feel like offering hospitality to a dinner guest while she and her son looked on as their stomachs growled and the last glimmer of hope ebbed away. But a fork suddenly appeared in the path that she had been plodding along with dread and despair. She chose generosity, and it saved her; it saved her son, and it changed the trajectory of her life.
God offered an opportunity to the widow in the form of a choice. Huddle the little family and hang on tight to what little she had or open her hand, her table, her home, and her life to a God she probably saw as the enemy behind the famine. She chose the illogical. She changed paths.
What about you? Do you find yourself at a crossroads that looks a bit like a crisis? If so, don’t miss the opportunity. And if you aren’t in crisis, let me challenge you, since I firmly believe we can learn much from history, even our own, let’s look back at our own crisis moments.
- Did you react with purpose or did you react with a knee jerk or out of habit?
- When did you recognize that even in the crisis you had choices? Was it in the moment or was it after the fact?
- How did your life change? Not one of us can out imagine God, but take a moment to dream of wildly different paths you could have taken from that moment.
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.2 Corinthians 1:8b-9 (NLT)