That Thing that Shaped My Life

I wanted to write a blog post about the one or two dramatic events that shaped my life. Something about that one time that particular person did that marvelous thing that molded my character as nothing else has in my life.

After several minutes of thinking, I really couldn’t name any moment where some grand gesture changed me. Instead, I thought of dozens of little events that continued to steer me the right direction.

1. There are the people who taught me. Through the years, numerous people have taught me about the Christian life and the Bible. My dad and mom, Virginia Vannice, Ted Scott, Dan Booth, Jon Sullivan, Mark Scott, JK Jones, George Faull and Fred Craddock. This is just a partial list. My life was shaped by more teachers than I can remember. Sometimes these were extended classes, but some people taught me in a casual setting in conversations. One way or another, their words changed me.

2. There are the people who sacrificed for me. Obviously, my parents are at the top of the list, but there are others. Another college student who gave me money so that I could go home one time. The people who donated funds for my mission trip to England. Those loving Christians who supported my new Church work when I moved to Iowa. The people who give to the Church I serve now that enables me to continue serving the Lord. My life has been directed by people willing to give of themselves and their resources.

3. There are the people who showed me grace. I am honest about how much I mess things up. I don’t often speak of the people who loved me through my failures. Some people saw the good in me when I made a royal mistake as a teenager. Other people stood by me when I was struggling in college. Still, other people did not turn their back on me when I failed in ministry. These people have kept praying for me and pushing me the right direction even when they could have given up.

4. There are the people who encouraged me. I have a box of notes and a file of emails from people who encouraged me through the years. Those people will never know how their words pulled me back from the edge and made me feel joy again. I read and reread their letters still many years later, and they remind me of the support I have in my life. These words given to in love have shaped my view of Christians and the Church in a profound way.

My life has had few big moments. Instead, it is the culmination of hundreds of small interactions. There is this tendency for people to think we should wait until just the right time to try and make an impact. Yes, there may be times that are better than others, but you will never know the amount of good you could do at any given opportunity.

God has given you today to touch someone’s life. I believe you do not have to do something grandiose to make a difference. Your impact could come from an email, a word, a visit, a prayer, a gift or any one of hundreds of small gestures of grace and love. Today your life may help steer the life of another person for good, so why not do something today?

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