I have now read about a hundred pages in Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered by James Wilhoit. He speaks of what forms us as believers. While classes, sermons, and special seminars may be significant in our formation, ultimately the most important formative experiences are those everyday life experiences and the way we approach them.
This afternoon I am thinking about some of these experiences in my own life. Here are a few. I would love hearing some of your own experiences.
1. The various jobs I had were often places that were spiritually formative for me. I threw a paper route, worked in fast food, worked for a large bakery, worked for Hunt Oil, etc. Some of these jobs brought moments that were very significant in my relationship with Jesus.
2. My friendships with a longtime friend in Dallas, an Abilene couple, and several friends in Florence, Alabama. These were significant moments in which God was at work to shape and form me.
3. Spending many days and evenings in the homes of the poor when I was a senior in college (part of the ministry of a church that I had been attending about a year).
4. Almost fifteen years ago, I spent several hours reading William Martin’s biography of Billy Graham (A Prophet with Honor). I remember this so clearly. I sat in the hotel, nursing a cup of coffee, amazed by the integrity of this wonderful man. It was formative.
5. Part of my formation has come through the love, care, and constant encouragement of my in-laws. I am indebted.
6. I have been formed and shaped, in part, through the teaching of my former theology professor Dr. Tom Olbricht (Abilene Christian University). Yes, the content of his lectures, the readings, etc. helped to shape me. I am thinking of something else, however. I was shaped by the way this man spoke about God. He had an obvious love and passion for the things of God. I will always remember him lecturing one afternoon when he began to tell about a baptism in the little community of Thayer, Missouri. He spoke of watching this baptism take place in the nearby river as cars from the little church there kept their headlights on, facing the water, so that everyone could see this wonderful moment.
It was not just the story that moved me. It was not just what he was saying about this baptism. It was hearing in his voice such a love for God.
What about you? What are some of the moments that have shaped you?