Have you experienced life changing sacred moments?

In September we moved to Canada after living and ministering in Europe for over forty years. The transition was the result of what I would call a sacred moment of asking Jesus about our future. My wife and I both had the same sense of a move to Canada that up until that time had not been on our horizon.  At that point our transition began. There followed a year of processing the move, filling out forms for residence, packing and saying goodbyes.  It was important to us that we finish our time in Europe well and that sacred moment gave us the encouragement and courage to follow through. 

Probably the main ministry that I am known for is the six-week Leadership Development Course (LDC) which has been multiplied around the world. I had an encounter during a leadership course led by Floyd McClung in 1993 which gave me a sense of direction and calling. My passion became clear during that time and I felt called to ‘develop leaders worldwide to live, love and lead like Jesus.’ The LDC was what emerged from that encounter and it has taken my focus and energy from that moment onwards.

In 2010, Maureen Menard asked me to share a message with her staff and, having done so, encouraged me to put it in writing.  That short experience turned out to be a sacred moment of ushering me into a new ministry of writing.  I have written a monthly leadership letter ever since that time and plan to continue. Thanks Maureen.

Sacred moments happen in our lives that have the potential of shaping us if we let them. These ‘God encounters’ don’t happen often – sometimes only a few times in our lifetime; they are very precious and should be treasured and remembered.

Think of all the people who are remembered by a moment:

  • Moses and the burning bush: The picture at the beginning of this article depicts Moses ‘turning aside’ to the burning bush, where he meets with God and receives the call that will take his whole lifetime to fulfil.  He, along with Aaron and the elders of Israel see the miracle of being released from slavery in Egypt and start their journey to the promised land.  

  • Mary’s visit from the Angel Gabriel:  God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. …”  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

  • Saul meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus: Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”         

  • Benedict and the poison chalice: The first monks who tried to live under Benedict’s direction hated his regimen so much that they plotted to kill their abbot. They put poison in a glass of wine and offered it to Benedict. Before he took it, he blessed it, as was the custom. According to the story told by Pope Gregory I (Benedict’s biographer), when Benedict made the sign of the cross over the wine glass, it shattered and the wine spilled to the floor.       

  • Ignatius of Loyola developing the spiritual exercises: In 1521 he became an officer in the Spanish army. On May 20, at the battle of Pamplona, his leg was broken by a cannon ball and he was bedridden for the next year. After reading books on the life of Christ and stories of the saints, he went to live in a cave outside the town of Manresa. Ignatius began writing about the emotions that took hold of him – feelings of gratitude and anguish, consolation and sadness while encountering scripture. It was here where he started work on what would become the Spiritual Exercises.

  • Luther nailing 95 thesis on the door of Wittenberg church: Luther spent his early years in relative anonymity as a monk and scholar. But in 1517 he penned a document attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice of selling “indulgences” to absolve sin. His “95 Theses” which propounded two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds—was to spark the Protestant Reformation.

  • George Muller praying in breakfast: “The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat,” the housemother of the orphanage informed George Mueller. He asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as He always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow, I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.” Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children.

  • Corrie ten boom shaking hands and forgiving her prison guard: Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbrück concentration camp where we were sent. Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!” …“Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.” And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. “I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”    

  • Loren Cunningham and the vision of waves: While traveling in the Bahamas in 1956 as part of a gospel quartet, Loren experienced a vision. In it, he described waves on the shorelines of the continents on a world map, eventually growing bigger and bigger, covering the landmass. He records that the waves in this vision changed to young people covering the continents, talking to people about their faith. This vision would inspire the beginning of Youth with a Mission four years later.

I believe, in the life of every individual there are some moments that offer us the chance to open our lives up to God, as happened in the lives of the people above. Similar experiences can arise in all kinds of contexts – an encounter that brings a sense of direction, being in challenging situations requiring faith, enduring lockdown, experiencing difficulties and trauma, being in prison or facing the unknown. There are times in life that shake you up and kick-start this process.

These moments come and go so quickly.  It’s easy to lose them. Paul could have had second thoughts on his vision of Jesus and continued on his path of persecution of the early Christians. Loren could have explained away his vision of millions of young people becoming missionaries as too much pizza the night before. We can discount these special events and moments in our lives and not believe that God can use us in these particular ways and lose our purpose, calling and direction.

So, let’s be alert and aware, to not miss out on these sacred moments.  And also to recall the moments of inspiration, revelation, encounter and life shaping experience that we have had in the past. I have noticed that the Lord doesn’t twist our arms or coerce us but invites us through these special moments.

Until next month


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