Tomorrow marks the anniversary by date of the second fire to claim the buildings of the First Baptist Church of Temple. Because it happened on a Tuesday, yesterday I walked through the minutes and events of that day. It still seems surreal when I think about it. Most days, however, I no longer think of minutes and hours of that day. I think of it as one event, taking place on a cold, overcast day in January. And, truth be told, I spend more time these days looking forward, rather than behind.
I had a recent conversation that drew me back to that day and the days that followed. It actually had nothing to do with the fire and subsequent loss, but my response was based solely on that event. It struck me as odd. The conversation had to do with music and the possibility of obtaining some music for my personal library. I was very interested in what I was looking at. In fact, my heart jumped when I looked at a treasure of musical literature. I was being offered anything that I could use and suddenly it caused me to pause.
“To use…” For me that was the definitive question. Sure, I could have taken anything I wanted. But I suddenly thought back on all that I had lost and immediately I knew that I didn’t need to take much. I had lost so much and yet I had come to the realization, even the decision, that I would never have all the “stuff” as before. I didn’t use all of it to begin with. Why lug it around? Why keep it and box it and sort through it and take care of it when I probably wouldn’t have a whole lot of need for it? And it was in that moment that I realized that the fire had been much more of a defining moment for me than I had even previously thought.
Defining moments come when you least expect them. They are events that change your thinking, alter your direction and plan, they may even stop you in your tracks. Sometimes they are catastrophic. Sometimes, but maybe not very often, they come quietly and gently and only to you. Whatever they may be, they change our thinking, they change our very lives.
For some, these events can become paralyzing. For some, they stop in their tracks and never move forward. Others plod ahead, always carrying the burden of a past that seems overwhelming. Still others are able to rise above the challenges of the day and seem to soar even in the face of great challenge. It all is a choice.
Each one of us will have defining moments in our lives. I hope you make the right choice.