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by Gari Meacham, wife of former MLB player & current Blue Jays MiLB coach Bobby Meacham
Gari Meacham has been so kind to share Chapter 1 of her new book “Watershed Moments” exclusively with SiS. This is a beautiful read about turning points in our lives that change us forever. Read on and be transformed! Information for purchasing your own copy of the entire book is listed at the bottom of the page. Also, for a limited time, share your thoughts about Chapter 1 in the comments section at the end and you could win your own copy!
Chapter 1: Points of No Return
The night before I gave birth to our third child, I paced back and forth across the blackened pebbles of our driveway. My husband had taken our four- and three-year-old daughters to the unexpected funeral of his mom on the West Coast. With a travel advisory on my late pregnancy, I remained at our temporary home in New Jersey to prepare for our third Cesarean birth. This child was a son, and instead of being excited to view his sweet face the next morning, or feeling anxious that my husband could be delayed in his flight plans and not make it home in time with our two little lambs, I paced the driveway, muttering the same line over and over to a faithful friend who spent the evening comforting me: “Why have I done this to myself again? I know exactly what to expect, and I chose to do this a third time!”
I was lamenting the pain I knew was inevitable — the transition I feared would sling me into chaos. After some early use of my deep breathing techniques meant for labor, I finally whispered, “This is a point of no return. There’s no going back. I have to go forward.”
What’s embarrassing about this point of no return is that I have faced many challenging moments that far surpass childbirth — suffocating moments, perplexing moments, moments that left me begging God to show me his providence.
Our lives are defined by such moments. Some moments pass like the flicker of a winking eye — you barely know they’ve passed until your eye has closed and reopened, ready for its next blink. Other moments leave you marked — decidedly different from before.
Some moments are laced in glory, joyously happy and giddy in their birth — the moment a man asks a woman to be his bride, the moment you accomplish a goal that seemed impossible, the moment you surrender to God, who beckons you.
Others are tinted with a haze that lifts like fog once we accept their presence — a moment that disappoints, a moment that infuses fear, a moment when we raise our hands in confusion. These are the watershed moments of our lives — the moments God uses to mark us, move us, and alter us for good.
Imprint of a Watershed
A watershed moment is a turning point brought on by circumstances that stop us in our tracks. Some call it an epiphany. A moment when everything changes. A point in time when nothing will ever be the same. Like a compass that provides direction, these are the moments that move us to new ways of thinking, relating, discerning, and accepting life’s challenges.
In the first part of this book, I share how God uses watershed moments of change, awareness, and restoration to groom us for future glory. Not the kind of glory that spouts praise and accolades for tasks we’ve accomplished, but glory that wells up when maturity is having its way.
When I was a kid, I loved the thought of becoming mature. Maturity meant I could stay up late, watch different types of shows, eat what I wanted, and push the boundaries of a curfew. But I seldom hear adults begging to mature. We want to stay youthful, free from responsibility, and comfortably detached. The truth is, without moments that sculpt the clay of maturity in our lives, we remain ineffective blobs pleading for purpose. Watershed moments of change, awareness, and restoration shape us so God can lovingly transform us.
Next we’ll look at the watershed moments that loosen our need for control and approval. Without these moments, our grip on life is so tight that our knuckles may pop. I have to laugh at the ways I think I manage my life, ways that must provide God with his fair share of entertainment.
I remember hearing a man tell a story that explains this perfectly. In the midst of pain and confusion at his circumstances, he went out to the wooded area behind his house to take a walk. While he strolled under the pine trees, he began to feel a release of tension as he lifted his hands in praise. Suddenly, a small bird landed in his outstretched hands. It literally sat there, peacefully perched in his hands. The man was stunned and instantly shouted to the Lord that this was his miracle — the moment he’d been waiting for when everything murky became clear. Before he finished his sentence, the bird relieved himself all over the man’s outstretched hands! At first he was appalled, but then began to laugh as he realized how little control we have over anything — even the moments we think we’ve figured out.
Finally we’ll delve into the watershed moments that empower us to face evil. Evil wears many masks, and as we pull away the scary images that pin us down in fear, we’re free to experience a new kind of watershed — the watershed of belief. These are the moments of reckoning in which we march and conquer that which has for too long conquered us.
How can such a word define the essence of the moments that unravel and restore us? How can a watershed moment lead us to the brink of what we’ve been and create a bridge to what we’ll become? I’m both fascinated by this word and inspired by it because God is at the helm of our watersheds, using precise moments to mark momentous transitions and upheavals that take us from one point in our lives to the next.
Even history is defined by the watershed moments that help carve out its destiny. I was surprised by the conclusions of an article called Top 10 Watershed Moments in History. Here’s how the scholars ranked the watershed moments that changed the planet:
#10 The Russian Revolution
#9 Invention of the Watt steam engine
#8 Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand Francis
#7 Black Plague
#6 Storming of the Bastille
#5 Vaccine for smallpox
#4 Invention of the printing press
#3 Protestant Reformation
#2 Berlin Conference
#1 Birth of Jesus of Nazareth
According to this article, the influence Jesus has had on the lives of people throughout history has never been surpassed. Christianity has revolutionized the world, changing how people think and live.
No other person has had a greater effect on world history than Jesus Christ.
At first I was impressed with this number one ranking. After being married to a major league baseball player and coach for over thirty years, I love to march around with a big foam finger on my hand and point out, “We’re number one!”
But then I whispered two words.
“Big deal,” I thought. “Seriously — big deal.” Who cares if Jesus gets good marks for transforming history if we don’t allow him to transform us? In the big picture, it’s not going to matter that people respect Jesus; it only matters if they love and accept him. He is the ultimate Watershed, the brilliant turning point that leaves no life the same.
Last night, as I crawled into bed, I wondered how I could write a book on a topic as important as the moments that change us — and my emotions had a field day. It was then that the simple words of my husband, Bobby, penetrated the fog that had settled over me.
“You know what?” he said as he turned over to face me. “To me, watershed moments are the moments we encounter God. We hear from him, sense his presence, or are impacted by a truth he makes known. Don’t try to make it more complicated than it is.” How I love the simple wisdom of my sports-minded man. God’s words, his presence, and his truth change the moments of our lives.
I realize that many of you reading this may sigh like I used to when I wanted to “hear” from God but wasn’t sure I ever really had. Let me encourage you, friends — you will have your moments. God will bring his watersheds. They may come in the form of unexpected blessings or circumstances, but they will come.
Years ago, I read the story of a cab driver (now a highly acclaimed author) who experienced a watershed moment that left him profoundly changed. His watershed didn’t come in the form of loud lessons or triumphant victories, but rather in the tender hug of a lonely woman.
There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a gambler’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss . . .
What I didn’t count on when I took the job was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, the car became a rolling confessional. Passengers would climb in, sit behind me in total darkness and anonymity, and tell me of their lives . . .
In those hours, I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh, and made me weep. And none of those lives touched me more than that of a woman I picked up late on a warm August night.
I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover . . .
When I arrived at the address, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground-floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a short minute, and then drive away. Too many bad possibilities awaited a driver who went up to a darkened building at two-thirty in the morning.
But I had seen too many people trapped in a life of poverty who depended on the cab as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door to try to find a passenger. It might, I reasoned, be someone who needed my assistance . . .
So I walked to the door and knocked.
“Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice . . .
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman, somewhere in her eighties, stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it . . . By her side was a small nylon suitcase . . .
“Would you carry my bag to the car?” she asked . . .
I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm, and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness . . .
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked,“Could you drive through downtown?”
“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.
“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor said I should go there. He says I don’t have very long.”
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to go?”
For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they had first been married. She made me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she would have me slow down in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a tar driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up . . .
“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.
“Nothing,” I said.
“You have to make a living,” she answered.
“There are other passengers,” I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent over and gave her a hug. She held on to me tightly. “You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”
There was nothing more to say. I squeezed her hand once, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me I could hear the door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I did not pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the remainder of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten a driver who had been angry or abusive or impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run or had honked once, then driven away . . . ?
We are so conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unawares. When that woman hugged me and said that I had brought her a moment of joy, it was possible to believe that I had been placed on earth for the sole purpose of providing her with that last ride. I do not think that I have done anything in my life that was any more important.
In the dark hours of a routine night, this cab driver experienced a watershed moment — a great moment that caught him unaware, leaving the fragrance of his life entwined with another in a deep pool of hope. A true watershed isn’t to be hoarded; rather, it is to be shared, to spread its gift of insight from our life to the lives of those around us. To spill onto another life the clarity that has been spilled onto ours.
Missing Our Moments
I hate missing out on things. You know, special events, sales, or gatherings about which people rave and say, “You really should have been there!” I want my senses alert and my spirit sharp so I don’t drive by watershed moments in my haste to get somewhere.
What causes us to miss out on life’s defining moments? Why do we skip right past those precious seconds that can change us forever? I believe the answer lies in a tangle of nots. Often, we’re not engaging, not risking, not listening, or not loving. But take heart, because anything we’re not doing leaves room for what we can do.
To engage God means we’re absorbed with his character and the character of his people.
It’s hard to be absorbing, however, if you fear getting wet. To engage God means we’re engrossed, involved in his living word and purposes here on earth. The essence of a watershed experience is looking at risk and assessing the damage, like this: “I can be safe and ignore my desire for life-changing moments,” we might think, “or I can risk comfort and listen for the melody of love to inspire me.”
When I first began to explore the word watershed, I was with women from my church in Houston. A group of about a thousand women met on Monday nights to try to squeeze the meaning out of the moments that change us. I picked the word watershed for our title with very little thought given to its definition, but once we got started, I realized the meaning of this word was painting our gatherings with a color once beige but now dazzling white. Described as a critical turning point — a point from which you can’t turn back — I knew we were on to something that would leave its mark long after we finished the study.
In order to remind us to look for our moments, I bought thousands of silver and gold rings from the wedding section of Hobby Lobby. We placed them in plastic champagne glasses and set them around our gathering spot so women could grab them and twirl them on their fingers. The rings were a symbol to cause us to pause and take note of our expectant hope that we’d see God move and that we’d experience our watershed moments.
Many months later, I’m still hearing stories about women’s moments and the rings we wore to remind us to look for them, but one young woman’s story leaves me breathless.
Lauren shared, “I was raised in a wonderful home with parents who loved each other and loved God. I invited Jesus into my life at an early age, but when I was in elementary school, I was the victim of a sexual assault by a neighborhood friend. At such a tender age I didn’t understand what happened and that it wasn’t my fault — and by junior high and high school, I was making every bad choice imaginable to numb my pain. If there was a sinful act or addiction I was either doing it or had a friend who was.
“When my eighteenth birthday arrived, I reached a point of bottoming out, and remember lying in my bed, saying, ‘God, if you’re truly real, let me die. There’s no hope for me. I’ll always be a disgrace to you.’ The next morning, I woke up alive — disappointed and plummeting further into despair.
“During spring break of my senior year, Mom and I took a trip to New York City to celebrate graduation, but once I got there I could barely move I was so sick and overcome with fatigue. Dad met us at a New York City hospital in time to hear a verdict pronounced in the heavy Russian accent of a doctor we barely knew. ‘You have leukemia,’ he said. We learned that what would normally be a 3 percent leukemia marker in someone’s bone marrow was 93 percent in mine.
“My first round of chemo left me in ICU, as my kidneys shut down from the treatment. When I regained consciousness, I opened my eyes and saw a childhood friend, Rebecca, sitting across from me. She had been diagnosed almost a year before with a rare cancer, and there she sat, smiling, with tiny sprays of hair growing into the bald spots left from her treatments. ‘Lauren,’ she said, ‘everything’s going to be fine.
I’m praying for you, and so are many others.’
“The next months were a blur of complications, leaving me with two emergency brain surgeries, pneumonia, and pancreatitis, and without my eyesight — legally blind. Because of my age, I was often treated on the pediatrics floor, where I got close to many families and their kids. During the months following my treatment, I attended the funerals of three beautiful children, as well as that of my precious friend Rebecca.
“I knew I needed to take my brokenness and surrender it to God. I never dreamed he’d place me in a position of leadership with women, helping them see his goodness, no matter the circumstance — but after all I’d been through, I sensed women would listen. Pain is good to have on your résumé when you teach women about God, because it’s through pain that we become authentic — and I was about as authentic as you can get.
“Prior to this, I had little time to think about a man, let alone romance, but soon my heart was awakened to the hope for a relationship with someone I could share my life with. I was introduced to a man named Clay, but I kept trying to set him up with my best friend before realizing he was the man I hoped for!
“The following spring I was a small group leader for a beautiful group of women studying watershed moments. Rings were handed out, and we were told they were to remind us to pray for our moments —moments that would lead us to never again be the same. I remember putting mine on and praying, ‘Lord, this ring will not leave my finger until I receive my watershed.’ Two weeks after the study ended, the ring was removed from my finger and replaced with a new one. Clay asked me to be his wife on March 24, 2012.”
These watershed moments that change us aren’t predictable or scripted. They’re as fresh as wildflowers and unique as fingerprints, designed to penetrate the protective layers of our will until we surrender ourselves to their impact.
Taken from Watershed Moments by Gari Meacham Copyright © 2013 by Gari Meacham. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com
Read more about Gari Meacham and purchase your own copy of Watershed Moments at