Every great story has at least one pivot point, a place in the plot where the reader gets jolted by the unexpected.
Remember the climactic scene in the wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain? The instant the fraudulent and powerless wizard is exposed, Dorothy and her friends are forced to pivot. Without what they thought was the easy solution, they’re forced to consider a plan B.
Pivot Points Happen in Life
Such pivot points don’t just appear in good fiction. They happen in life.
Looking back, each of us can surely identify one or more pivot points when our story took an unexpected turn. Whether it’s a wonderful serendipitous surprise or an awful unpredicted event, we often struggle with these plot twists. It can take weeks or months or sometimes a lifetime to adjust and adapt.
While thinking about the content of this weeks article, multiple disruptions sidetracked me. These annoyances beyond my control as if purposefully timed, weren’t life-altering, but they demanded my immediate attention and forced me to pause and pivot. Pause and pivot. Pause and pivot.
I was reminded of that familiar verse.
Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
Over the course of the next several days, I thought about a lifetime of pivot points. When I pictured each as if it was reflected on a line graph, an unmistakable pattern emerged.
Each pivot point presented an opportunity, a decision point, and a chance to invoke my faith. Whether the pivot point was big or small or negative or positive, wasn’t what was most important. What mattered most was how inclined I was to the Lord’s influence with the change in course.
I recall one key pivot point happened when I was a new college graduate and relocated to Memphis for my first real job. Life was exciting as I figured out adulting far away from my family home. One night while sound asleep, I woke to a hand on my face. I thought I was having a nightmare, until the smell of alcohol and body odor gripped my awareness.
God protected me in countless ways that night, including a clouded memory of the awful details. I was grateful for the reassurance from the hospital that I had been miraculously untouched and physically unharmed.
But the incident was a pivot point. I wanted to quit life. Such brave independence had cost me something. I lost my sense of self-protection.
Mike, my Christian boss, was kind and understanding. Take all the time you need he told me. Within the hour I was driving home to PA. Three weeks later I drove back to Memphis accompanied by my mother who didn’t want me to face my apartment alone. In spite of the passage of time and some major redecorating efforts, I still did not and could not feel safe.
Prepared to Quit
In a somewhat rash move, I approached Mike to quit. I was only six months into a coveted management training program, with a lot to lose, but I was desperate.
Mike’s response shocked me. “You’re much too good of an employee, let me see what I can do?” Two hours later he asked me, “if you could transfer anywhere in the country, where would it be?”
Without hesitation, I answered “Denver.” (Having skied competitively in college, I dreamt of the day I could visit Colorado.)
“Done,” said Mike. “While the transfer is organized you’ll move in with my mother.” In a musty room covered in doilies, I felt safe and cared for by my new sweet friend Edna.
Fast forward another month, and I was relocated to Denver, Colorado where I connected to a vibrant new church and I met this cute guy named Doug Hucke.
Clearly God’s fingerprints were all over that pivot point. And as I think about it decades later it occurs to me… pivot points in all shapes and sizes are the catalysts the Lord uses to grow our faith. What seems to us to be a plan B, is always the Lord’s plan A. Perhaps instead of resisting pivot points, we should embrace them.
Consider this…It’s only after the evil wizard is revealed that Dorothy and her friends discover what they possess within. The same is often true for us.
Dear Loving Father, I praise you for your Sovereignty. When I consider your mighty power, it’s easy to lose sight of your tender care. Forgive me for assuming you’re too big and important to care about the details of my life. Thank you for your involvement even when I don’t notice. Father thank you for your patience with me to see things from Your perspective. Help me to embrace the pivot points in life. I know that’s when my faith grows the most. Amen.