The beginning of a new year is a great time to start a brand new chapter in your life story. Why not make 2012 the year to deepen your understanding of the story God is telling through your life?  Understanding your life’s turning points is a great place to start. Turning points can shed a significant amount of light on what God has done in our lives, what He is currently doing, and where He could be leading us.

In his book Living the Life You Were Meant to Live, Tom Patterson defines a turning point as a significant time in your life when the direction of your life changes either for the better, or worse. What is particularly important about a turning point is that it is a landmark in your life: Something substantial that changes your whole direction.

Why is this important?  Because though you may or may not realize it, your life story needs to be told. The Bible is full of stories of how God has used the life stories of men and women to change the course of history. To identify yours, try asking yourself two simple questions:

  • What are the major events of my life (such as marriage, death, leaving home, graduation, career shifts, retirement)?
  • What change resulted from the tragedy or gift that I experienced?

In this type of contemplation, I like to think about both life turning points and spiritual turning points. We can then use these landmarks to get a sense of our life story, and in turn, a better sense of our unique calling under God. Let me give you a few examples from my own life.

Life Turning Points:

My major turning point occurred when my father had a serious heart attack, which opened up a host of emotions that I had to deal with. Since my father was not around for a lot of my life, that included a lot of thoughts and emotions going back to my childhood. My father survived that heart attack and for me, this represented a turning point: it was the beginning of a season of healing. I started working with a counselor who helped me to process a lot of the feelings I had regarding my parents, their divorce, and my father being gone. You want to pay attention to those events that made an impact.

Another major turning point in my life was the day I met Gerard, the man who would become my husband. I remember walking into the room for a Bible study I had never been to before, and we were a little late.  I quickly looked around the room for a place to sit (and probably a man to marry), and spotted Gerard right away. When the study was over, I made it a point to go and meet him. I didn’t wait for him to come on over and introduce himself: Sometimes, women just have to be bold!  I am glad I walked on over, because in that moment, the course of my entire life changed. This encounter led to our courtship and eventual marriage, and later on, the birth of my sons Jonathan and David – also significant turning points in my life.

Spiritual Turning Points:

A spiritual turning point is something that occurs that changes or influences your relationship with God.  One day, a friend of mine asked if I was ready to meet Him. I was, so I made a "date" to meet God. I mean, I actually made an appointment. I believe it was at two o’clock in the afternoon, and I remember walking into the home of some friends who just had a new baby. I was so in awe of God’s love when I walked into their home, that I did all I could to not burst into tears. My friends led me in a prayer and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Later that night, I had gone to take a shower. When I was done, I laid down in my room, contemplating the day’s events. I had been resting for about ten minutes when I heard a loud crashing sound. Instantly, I got up to see what all the commotion was about: the ceiling in the shower, where I had only minutes before been, had completely fallen down.  I couldn’t believe it! What would have happened to me had I been in there? I couldn’t say for sure, but what I did know is that earlier in the day I had been brought into God’s heavenly plan, and that marked a significant spiritual turning point for my life.