D. Michael Lindsay, newly named president of Taylor University and outgoing president of Gordon College, has written an insightful and entertaining book about one of the most unsettling aspects of life — change.
Hinge Moments: Making the Most of Life’s Transitions pulls the reader in almost immediately with a powerful illustration: a promising young doctor treats an elderly woman who is a Christian with a terminal heart condition. As her strength wanes, he expects that her faith will too.
Instead, it grows stronger. The doctor, an atheist, finds her faith charming. But one day she asks him, “Doctor, I have been telling you what I believe, but what do you believe?”
Taken aback, he fumbles for an answer, one he finds disappointing. In Lindsay’s words, “He becomes convinced that his inability to answer her question or find consolation in his view of the mechanical universe is intellectually unacceptable.”
The physician visits a minister who gives him a book by C.S. Lewis, which he devours. Over the next two years he studies the world’s religions trying to find an answer to the dying woman’s question.
Ultimately, he decides the answer lies in Christianity. He becomes one of the greatest scientists of his generation, but his newfound faith influences everything that he does.
His name? Francis Collins. He is head of the National Institutes of Health and former head of the Human Genome Project. You may have seen him on TV discussing the coronavirus pandemic.
Lindsay calls that fateful conversation and other moments like it “hinge moments — opportunities to open (or to close) doors to various pathways of our lives.”
At the time, Collins may not have realized it was a turning point. “The challenge with life is that we have to live it moving forward, but we really only understand it looking back,” Lindsay writes. “Every day offers the promise of preparing us to best respond to the next hinge moment of our lives.”
We can plan for some transitions, like selecting a college or starting a new job. “But some profound changes arrive in the blink of an eye,” Lindsay writes.
If you aren’t prepared, you can make a mistake with life-long consequences. But godly men and women develop character traits — like humility, self-control, and courage — that stand them in good stead when challenges arise.
“In my own life, I have found the hardest hinge moments have become the most important crucibles for growth and character building,” Lindsay writes.
He and his wife have a teenage daughter, Elizabeth, who has a rare genetic disorder.
“It has reoriented our entire lives,” he writes. “But even though this change wasn’t the one we chose, our transition has been all about choices. We choose to allow God to shape and bless us through difficulty, and we traded in our dream for our firstborn for his dream instead.”
After all, he writes, “The point of the Christian life is transformation. Parenting Elizabeth has taught us important lessons.”
There’s a lesson in their experience for all of us.
Originally published at the Denison Forum