The Ordinary Moments That Shape and Form

coffeebeans.jpgI 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? 

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3 thoughts on “The Ordinary Moments That Shape and Form

  1. The are somewhat general but here are some. 1. Restitutions I made when I became a Christian. I sensed God helping me and releasing me through each one. 2. Daily recipient of unconditional love from my wife.3. Daily sacrifices of what it means for me to lay down my life for my children and family.

  2. Jim,
    Good thoughts. I guess friendship in different places has been so important to me. I think of an older couple in Ohio, plain, "ordinary" country folks who deeply loved God and we just really hit it off in enjoying each others’ company.
    Places I’ve worked have been important in God shaping me as well, though I must admit, I feel more like so much of my life has been like Israel’s 40 year wandering in the desert. God has been good, but the promised land has hardly been my stay it seems.

  3. Living and working overseas as a missionary was incredibly formative in my life.  I learned a lot about myself and a lot about the Lord at the same time.  My categories were shaken up as I experienced live in another culture.  I learned to trust God in new ways and l learned some painful lessons about myself that have stuck with me to this day.