Turning 30: Impactful Experiences

It was a dark stormy night. Far off the coast on a large imposing rock shooting out of the sea the rain beat violently against the windows of a small, pathetic looking shack. As the wind howled and swirled about it shook the creaky old structure so that few inside could fully rest. Curled up on the floor laid a quiet unassuming boy few bothered to pay attention to. He shivered and shook almost as violently as the poor excuse for a house they found themselves in. Whether it was the cold or excitement deep in his heart at the approaching arrival of his eleventh birthday, the boy couldn't sleep.

On the couch his chubby cousin on the other hand was sleeping soundly with not a care in the world. As the storm raged on outside however the sounds of a crashing knock began to fill the meager cabin. Someone was knocking at the door, that stood little chance of preventing anyone who truly wanted in from gaining access to their temporary hamlet. After a few blows that sounded like the firing of cannon balls, the door gave way. Now entering the room was a giant, imposing figure with wild, unruly appearance. Truth be told, he struck fear into the hearts of all present as he came striding into view. After a short, tense conversation the young boy heard four little words that would forever change his life, "Harry-yer a wizard."

We all know how the story of Harry Potter hinges on the revelation that Harry isn't simply a small, starved young boy living under a stairwell, but is actually a wizard changed everything. The entire story and all that follows flows from this one moment where the character's reality shifts in an instant.

Listening to Mike Rowe over the last collection of months has introduced me to peripeteia and the concept is simply fascinating.  

Peripeteia is defined as a sudden reversal of fortune or change in circumstances. It's that singular experience or moment in a person's life at which things change. It's that dime on which everything turns and heads in a new direction. It's what Paul Harvey did for all those years and it's what Mike Rowe does every week on his podcast The Way I Heard It.

We've all been there at one time or another. Something so impactful takes place that it changes us in dramatic and lasting fashion.

While the dramatic turning point of my life is the story of how Christ ransomed me from the pit and brought me into His family, there are three experiences in the last several years that qualify as life shaping. Each is part of the unfolding of finding life in Christ into all subsequent moments and experiences. 

Marriage has perhaps been the single most impactful experience of my life, outside of Christ saving me, and it will no doubt continue to be until my days on this earth are done. I married one amazing women who daily encourages, supports, loves and inspires me yet few of those qualities are why marriage has and will continue to have such a shaping influence on my life. Marriage is so impactful for the simple reason that God designed it to be so. As He fashioned and formed man & women and set them in the garden He did so for a myriad of purposes that include reflecting His saving love for us in Christ, the refinement of our character.

Hannah daily helps me be and become something & someone I could not be on my own, a more fully committed follower of Jesus Christ. No one shows me my sin, need for Christ or points me towards Him like she does. Not a day goes by that I am not in someway reminded of my deep need for (1) the provision made for me in Christ and (2) His daily power and strength to grow in Christ likeness. Most of the time Hannah isn't even aware of it. Among the thousands of good things that flow from a healthy marriage, this is perhaps the greatest gift my wife could ever give me.

Merge helped lay some pretty big stones on which Hannah and I have built our marriage and life together. If you're unfamiliar with Merge, it is the pre-marital ministry at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX. In eight short weeks, that feel like trying to fill a tea cup with a fire hose at times, couples walk through and discuss topics from God's design for marriage to finances, to conflict & communication to sex and everything in between.

As Hannah and I walked into the crowded room in the winter of 2012, we thought Merge would simply be another item we checked off our list. Little did we know just how enormous an impact it would have. In the subsequent weeks, we fought and argued like never before or since, but as we hashed things out, asked questions and dealt with where we differed, we laid a solid foundation for our marriage to come. Fast forward the tape just four quick years and we now have the pleasure of serving in the very ministry that so profoundly impacted us. Every new table of young, energetic couples with bright shiny faces provides us an opportunity to help them lay the same solid foundation our Merge leaders helped us to lay. 

Miscarriage is an unbelievably painful and heart wrenching experience. One I honestly hadn't fully understood until we found ourselves standing face to face with the very real, and raw pain it brings. As Christ followers we understand that life begins at the moment of conception, and as a result believe that the loss of that life at any point is a tragedy. That's one truth that causes so much difficulty and searing emotional pain when a miscarriage happens.

You struggle to make sense of it all. You ask deep, hard questions that may not have an answer on this side of the grave. And therein rests the answer to the hope of the believer in Christ at such moments of trouble, resurrection. The Christian understands that this life, with all its pain, heartache, and trouble, is not the end of the story. It is but a brief interlude on the way to eternity. Does what we do with this life matter a whole heck of a lot? You bet! But its not the end. All the loss, death, hunger, pain and evil that presently attend and torment this world will not only be removed but their effects reversed and made right. That's what the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is all about, how God in Christ is making right all that has gone wrong in creation because of sin.

Miscarriages are a part of that. Though we do not fully understand why, we know that God is good, He is in control and He can be trusted. This extremely tough set of circumstances and events that could have shaken our faith in Christ has helped strengthen it. We are faced with two choices when hardship comes our way (1) abandon faith and go our own way, or (2) trust in the only one who can make all things right again. The first path means trusting in our feelings and emotions to lead us to healing, and the second path means leaning on truth and the almighty to bring healing to our hearts. Hannah and I have chosen the second path and it has lead to a greater joy in Christ than we could otherwise be found. 

There are going to be a great many moments in life that deeply matter and that will change you in varying degrees, but there will be a few that break in just the right way to help you become the man or women your supposed to be. The trick is slowing down, taking a few deep breaths and noticing them. Turning 30 has been a great opportunity for me to slow down and take stock of what the Lord has done throughout the now 3 decades I've roamed this earth. We are now approaching the start of a new school year, and the turning of the calendar, all of which are also good opportunities for reflection.