The assignment was to write about an event that changed my life. Hmmm. I have heard it said that if nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies. So why do we resist change so fervently? Fear? Laziness? Comfort?
A life changing event? Would it be too obvious to say it was …
The morning I was haphazardly born into a middle class family in Minnesota farm country instead of into any great number of other states or countries or centuries or socioeconomic shackles. That morning certainly set in motion the rhythm of my days.
Could it have been the summer I turned eleven years old and they auctioned off my simple farm life and with it our puppies and horses. That single event changed my geography and my prospects forever.
Or perhaps it might have been my first pair of ice skates, my first try at hurdles, my first acting role, my first joint; all these events showed me things I would never be any good at!
It might have been my first horse show; it revealed to me a confidence I didn’t know was in me.
How about my college graduation day, it changed my earning capacity and job satisfaction.
Undoubtedly it could have been my wedding day. That event united me with the love of my life forever.
It might have been the rainy Christmas Day I moved from Minnesota to Indiana; that move rid me of one life and gave me a new start.
It very well could have been the day my husband and I closed on our first home; that event would weave a tapestry of love and community that would last for years.
I think of my life in two spheres; before the passing of my Mom and after; That sad day would extinguish a guiding light and push me to new and deeper places of understanding.
How about my first visit to a developing nation; it opened my eyes to a brand new awareness of poverty and the power of the human spirit.
Without a doubt an event that changed my life forever was the day I became a mother. That event changed in a delightful way how I would spend my time and money forever, it would change the way I would sleep and eat forever; and it would change the way I would see the world, forever.
All of these were events and they all changed my life forever, bit by bit. But ONE event that changed my life? Hmmm. I have wrestled with this question for weeks now, and have narrowed it down to one quintessential event.
I was 17 years old. I was attending a prayer meeting at someone’s home. I can’t even remember whose house it was now. Somewhere after the Bible teaching and singing some choruses, people were praying all around me, some out loud and some in silence. I was probably one praying quietly, when I had a vision of Christ standing in the hall doorway, luminescent white robe and all, with his arms outstretched toward me, palms turned upward, and warm brown eyes connecting with mine in a most real and surreal way. I am not sure how long it lasted. Could have been a moment, might have been longer. I know it was real. I don’t think I told anyone; looking around it was obvious that no one else had seen Him. I kept it safely tucked away in my heart.
Now you would think that something that amazing would keep a person on the straight and narrow and living for God all day every day. Sadly that hasn’t been the case. I could tell you here about all the times I would wander and stray away from the path He groomed for me. About the activities and attitudes I would nurture showing I had clearly forgotten all about his outstretched palms. About the times I would shade my eyes from his gaze.
But instead I will tell you about how that one brief moment in a teenage girl’s life has served as a shelter for many decades now. I will tell you about the power of this vision to pull me back to center when I am feeling alone or isolated. I will tell you about His arms reaching toward me that welcomed me back again and again. About his luminescent white gown and how it glowed when I came close to Him. And I will tell you about those warm brown eyes, so alive in my memory, piercing and forgiving and loving all at once.
When I look back at those pivotal points – that list of events that changed my life – I can see now how He guided and orchestrated each of them for a specific purpose. His purpose. When I sulked over having to move off the farm when I was 11 because it meant we had to sell our horses, he sent me a little grey mare when I grew up, who showed me I had some confidence after all. When I was quite satisfied to be a single working girl, finishing college, and happily dating, He sent me the love of my life who brought me to Indiana, to a new life that included a good solid church. When I struggled with infertility and my arms ached to hold a baby, he had just the little boys in mind and he guided them to me through adoption. When I lost my job and my mom got cancer, He provided the time to spend the last six weeks of her life together, which proved to be one of the deepest spiritual experiences of my life. And when I had inkling there was great big world out there where people needed a gentle touch and the love of Christ, He brought me women with passports and big hearts and helping hands.
Although He has never showed himself to me in quite the same way in all the years since, that event has proven to be the roof over my very existence. Max Lucado compares the roof of a home to God’s provision. “The roof of a house is seldom noticed.” He said. “How often do your guests enter your doorway saying, “You have one of the finest roofs I’ve ever seen!” They are more likely to comment on a $10 lamp inside than the roof protecting your home.”
He is right, the roof of a home is seldom noticed, but imagine your house without it. Nothing inside the house would hold its value for very long exposed to weather and wildlife. The people living inside the house would be unable to sleep or function very well inside the house if the roof was missing. Contractors work feverishly to get the roof on before bad weather, so they can keep working inside after the storms come.
I think God constructed the roof over mankind when he sacrificed his Son for all of us. And I think God placed the roof over my life when he allowed me a glimpse of His Son standing in the doorway.
His Son dressed in white,
standing with arms outstretched,
seeing into my soul
and assuring me
that He would be right there for me
and guiding my steps,
as each change unfolds.
As a new butterfly takes flight.