Defining Moments (Part One)

Defining Moments (Part One)

A Defining Moment

(Part One)

I believe that there are moments in people’s lives that help define who they are and where they end up going. These moments are not many but few. These moments not only impact a person’s life but help to shape that person’s life from that point on. Sometimes they are intellectual and sometimes they are physical events that occur in a person’s life. They are sometimes moments of tragedy or sometimes moments of inspiration…glimpses of a better way or insight into a deeper understanding. These moments can propel people to greater heights or send them over the cliff to destruction. When these moments come they don’t last long…they appear for your grasp and if you don’t take advantage of it you may never retrieve it to your mind again. These defining moments are not just restricted to the individual but can also be seen in a more broader historical sense.

Throughout history, one can observe moments in the history of nations that for better or worse defined that nation. Our nation’s defining moment came with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The moment those signers penned their name to that document they were labeled traitors. And though they knew this, they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Though I am sure there were many individual moments at that moment, as a nation, it defined who we were and even to this day is woven into our makeup as a culture. To the victor’s of the ‘Civil War’, the Union points to Gettysburg as their defining moment when the tide’s of war changed, yet to the Confederates, the defining point of the war came at the moment that friendly fire took out their great general and leader, Stonewall Jackson. When Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were together the Confederate Army could not be defeated. Therefore, Gettysburg was lost because Lee had to count on generals who could not match the military genius that Jackson had obtained too. American history is littered with such moments…’the day that will live in infamy’ is a quote by FDR that stimulates images of Japanese planes to surprise aerial at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The ‘turning point’ in WWII can be found on the beaches of Normandy. Here thousands of U.S. soldiers stormed the beaches in a back-breaking assault into the heartland of Nazi control. The ‘war on terror’ will forever have the surreal images of two planes crashing into the World Trade Center Towers as it’s defining the moment. Germany is forever riddled with the image of Adolf Hitler and his campaign to conquer the world and create a superhuman race. The Catholic Church, though not a nation in itself will always be remembered for her leadership of the Inquisition. The blood of the martyr’s voices still testifies of her quest to quiet their voices.

Israel had a few defining moments, one of the most obvious was the exodus from Egypt. With God as their head, Israel was moved by defining moments one after another. From the plagues to the Red Sea, these were forever embedded into the mindset the Israelites, which they still cling to in claiming to be special chosen people of God. What about the moment that Jesus stood before the religious order of that day and opens up the scripture of Isaiah, he finds the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:17-21) Wow! What a moment! This was a ‘God’ moment! One of those ‘ declarations of independence’ moments, yet to Israel it was the first swing of the ax at the root of the tree.

And what of those individual’s who defining moments not only helped to shape a nation but also define who they were and forever forge their mark in the annals of time. Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death!” was an act of treason. Napoleon’s Waterloo forever vanquished him to defeat and an ultimate exile outside of his own country. The success of Jamestown owes it’s historical significance to a man by the name of Captain John Smith who abolished the communal system of taking from the haves and giving to the lazy have not’s and establishing the biblical principle of ‘if you don’t work, you don’t eat’! And what of George Washington’s amazing survival against all odds as an officer, under General Braddock in the British army. As they marched toward Ft. Duequene they were ambushed by the Indians who knew that their only way to victory to was to kill every officer. Two horses were shot out from under him and four bullet holes were found in his jacket. Fifteen years later an Indian war chief compelled George Washington to meet with him so he could meet the man that God protected. He told Washington of him personally taking seventeen shots at him and finally stopped shooting because he realized he could not kill him. Washington writes not only of this account but of ninety-seven defining moments in his life where the hand of God protected him and directed his path. King David’s life has a few moments that determined his destiny. Samuel stepping past eight of his brothers and asking David’s father if he had any other sons had to have been quite a moment. Imagine the astonished look on David’s eight brother’s faces as Samuel poured the anointing oil over their little brother’s head. An obvious one is in the Valley of Ellah. Here the young God chaser was brought face to face with the giant Philistine, Goliath. Though Bathsheba comes to mind, David’s defining moment wasn’t really that he sinned, but was truly captured when his sin was revealed. Here is probably a universal defining moment for every inhabitant of the earth. How you respond to a preacher who tells you the truth is an eternal moment that places you at the proverbial fork in the road.

Historically, I could probably go on and on with this list of ‘defining moments’ that have transpired throughout the ages. In part two (next article) we will bring the examination of this idea to a micro level and step into the dynamics of defining moments of the ‘inner man’ in each of us. Though it is easy to look at history or the defining moments of those around us, it is a little more difficult to ’see’ how our own personal experiences have defined who we are and how they have shaped us.

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