Not too long ago, I interviewed a prominent pastor who kind of scoffed at the idea of “spiritual turning points.” He felt there were too many in his life to count them as particularly significant. I agree that God consistently offers moments in our lives where the veneer of our daily existence is removed and we are faced with a choice to either do what is expedient and easy (practical) or to respond and change.
I am reading a biography of St. Francis of Assisi written by G.K. Chesterton.
St. Francis was presented with several moments like this in his young life. He encountered a leper not long after his failed attempt to go off to battle. As the story is told by Chesterton, Francis became acutely aware of the fear in his heart as the leper approached… and God spoke to him in those moments. Surely, there were other incidents along the way that set St. Francis on his journey; but this one encounter was the one to which he responded. It was the moment he realized that God was asking him to submit to a higher bravery than going to war. He saw the leper and responded by looking deep into his own heart.
I think we all have these occasions in our journey. The beautiful thing about the story of St. Francis is found in his willingness to surrender to this moment. He eventually renounced all of his earthy possessions and moved into a hut to care for lepers — the ones that no one else would look after — and the rest is history.
The thing that makes St. Francis unique was his willingness to be led by those moments: his willingness to surrender to God’s call.