I met a man last week named Lee who spent six months in a coma. The doctors didn't think he would make it, and if he did, he certainly wouldn't be able to walk, talk, read, or write again. Lee told me his story as I sat eating lunch across from where he was cleaning a table. Lee was very much alive and well.
I asked how Lee was and he launched into his story, "Better than I was. I was in a coma for six months. Doc didn't think I would make it, much less walk, talk, read, or write. I do all those things and still hunt and fish! Grace of God."
Lee moved along to the next table, and I heard the exact exchange all over again. "Better than I was. I was in a coma for six months..." Lee's life was changed, and he was going to make sure every person he encountered knew how grateful he was to be alive.
Lee got me thinking about my own life, the turning points as I've been calling them. There's always an inciting incident, some sort of internal or external conflict that forces the character to change. Rarely will a great story not involve a struggle or even series of struggles.
The thing about choosing to follow God at age 10 is that you have very little life experience, a limited understanding of the human condition, and (in most cases) not a lot of guilt and shame.
You haven't been smacked in the face with puberty, a changing body, confusing desires, bad influences, and loads of temptation. I don't think it's any coincidence that so many "re-dedications" occur in teenage years.
So at age 14, in an auditorium full of a couple thousand people, I approached an altar, knelt down, and prayed. I recommitted to a life of following God, specifically in how I used my abilities and talents to tell others about God's love for them. In my case, it was music. The next twelve years were shaped by that decision to respond.
It helps to have a point of reference, a time and a place. The reality is there are thousands of these refocusings of the heart, turnings of the spirit, submissions to something more. I've used the age 14 example to simplify my story, but if I'm honest, there have been countless times I've had to repent and refocus on my purpose.
Like Lee, I encountered grace and then had a story to tell. I woke up from my own coma of self-interest and pride. The diagnosis had been bleak, but I was given another chance to have a meaningful life.
(to be continued)