Last week I shared a defining moment in the lives of Dr. Billy Graham and Charles Templeton. Billy’s defining moment came at a time when he had more questions than answers about life’s mysteries. He knelt, and a tree stump became an altar where he laid his questions and recommitted his life to preaching God’s truth even when it appeared to be in conflict with human logic. Charles Templeton faced the same questions but chose another path and bowed at an altar which is based, not on God’s truth but man’s reason, which is called secular rationalism. Billy laid his questions at the tree stump, and Charles tripped over the stump and lived the rest of his life stumped.
One of my defining moments came when I faced the same mysteries as a student at Central Bible College, a theological institution in Springfield, Missouri. I was enrolled in a class called Theology 1 which dealt with the doctrine of God. We were at a juncture in the course when we were studying the subjects of God’s sovereignty, predestination, foreknowledge, and man’s free will. For anyone who is not familiar with these terms, they’re used to explain God’s divine control over our destiny versus man’s free will to choose his own path.
As if wrestling with these theological minefields were not enough, I was also struggling with having limited respect for the professor who was teaching the class. When I look back to this time, I’m sure my frustration with Dr. Aker’s sovereign control over the destiny of my grade for the class was also impacting my “freedom” to challenge him with my questions about this complex subject. My tension with the professor and the magnitude of the subject matter came to a crescendo, and I seriously considered leaving Central Bible College and enrolling at Southwest Missouri State College.
As God would have it, I had a close friend named Jim Ayers who knew of my potential life-altering decision that had my future hanging in the balance. One night we were in a store called Venture, and Jim could tell that this impending decision was weighing heavy on my heart. He said, “Mark, I want to stop right now in this store and pray for you that God would make clear to you His will for your life so that you can confidently move forward.” I didn’t physically bow my knees in prayer, but I bowed my head and more importantly my heart and surrendered my will to whatever God desired for me and my life. It was shortly after that defining moment I made the decision to remain at C.B.C. and to continue to prepare for vocational ministry.
The choice to remain at C.B.C. was not the only decision at that critical period of my life. I also nailed down a theological proposition about how I chose to view God and what I chose to believe about the mysteries I was facing. I chose to believe more than anything God is love and because God directs my life out of His perfect loving character, I will trust He is just and fair with me and the universe. My decision to stay at C.B.C. and my decision about how I chose to view God in the face of mysteries, in a way I still don’t fully understand, placed me on a trajectory that led me to Akron, Ohio. And now, in the words of Paul Harvey, “you know the rest of the story.”
As I write this blog I felt impressed to speak to anyone who is facing a defining moment that has the potential to change the trajectory of your life. Your decision may be a vocational one or more relational in nature or like it was for me, a spiritual matter. My friend Jim did something so simple in praying for me, but it made such a tremendous impact; I’ll remember it the rest of my life. I may not be able to be physically present for you, but I do want to stop right now and offer this prayer for you, that God would meet you in your venture and make His way clear so you too can move forward with confidence and not look back with regret.
Dear God, because I know you love my friend so much I trust that You have their very best in Your heart. Please speak to them with that whisper like you do for me and make them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that You are saying, “This is the way, follow ME.” In the strong name of Your only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, I pray. AMEN!!
If God has answered this prayer, would you drop me an email at email@example.com so I can know “the rest of your story”?