This year at Annual Conference we were challenged to “Give God Our Best.” It is a challenge that calls us to carefully pay attention to our lives, how we live as disciples of Jesus Christ. So many times, the thought of giving our best is a daunting one. It brings to mind all the times we tried to do our best, but failed terribly along the way. You know what I’m talking about. The weight of the times we failed keeps us from seeing the possibilities around us, so we give up, stop growing, become comfortable with our spiritual malaise. “It’s just the way things are.”
That’s when another word from Conference becomes a light in the darkness. It is the word “ripple.” A ripple starts with one small drop into the water and spreads beyond where the eye can see. John Wesley would support this concept of spiritual growth in his writings about Christian Perfection. For Wesley perfection was a journey, an intentional decision to reflect more of Christ’s love through the way we live our lives, with each passing day. But where does the journey begin? How does one actually find the strength to live differently in this world?
If you ask me, the starting point is found in a myriad of defining moments, tiny choices where one is challenged to decide how they will live, what values they will reflect. Let me share with you this definition:
A defining moment is a point at which the essential character of a person is established. It is an identity-forming event, something that makes someone who they are and flows through to their behavior. It can be an achievement or a failure, something you do or something done to or for you. It can also be something that happened before you were born, such as some national event or family experience.
— Brian S. Rosner, Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity
This year I invite the people of the East District to join together in a journey of faith. I invite you to consider the times in your life that have the potential to start of ripple of transformation in this world. I invite you to consider the very moment that defines who you are and reveals your character.
This year I invite you to consider your DEFINING MOMENTS.
Maybe your defining moment will come when you face a trial and have to decide whether you have the faith to continue on, or whether you give up. Or maybe a defining moment is experienced when you encounter someone with whom you disagree; and you have to decide how to respond. Will it be with grace, and forgiveness or anger? A defining moment might be when God places a dream in your heart and you have to decide whether or not to go for it. A defining moment might be that very second when you have to choose, and in the choosing you find that the Spirit uses the defining moment to shape who you are in this world. And every now and then, the defining moment not only shapes you, but impacts another person’s life.
This year in many ways we, in the East District, will be asked to intentionally consider that very point when we have to make a choice, aware that such a point has the power to be a Defining Moment. And who knows, perhaps that very moment when we make a decision to reflect the highest ideals of our faith, to live as disciples of Christ, giving God our very best, perhaps that is the very moment we will set a ripple of love and transformation into motion.
Will you join me in this journey? If you will, write the following words on a piece of paper, and tape it to your bathroom mirror, put them in your car, create a screensaver.
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH TODAY’S DEFINING MOMENT?
Next year let’s see how different we are, how different our relationships are, how different everything we do becomes. Notice your defining moment, each and every time it presents itself.
Let us pray for one another as we journey together.