Pivot Point as an Inciting Incident

Exploring the concept of transitions in the human life continues to be very interesting. I just finished reading Donald Miller’s new book, “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Lifeand found that in this book, Donald Miller is writing a lot about transition. It is a great book and I would heartily recommend it.

Miller says (p. 100), “Humans are designed to seek comfort and order, and so if they have comfort and order, they tend to plant themselves, even if their comfort isn’t all that comfortable.” A pastor that I used to work with used to say, “That which is the most familiar is the most comforting,” and I would add, “that which is the most comforting is where people tend to stay.”

Somebody once told me that they hated their job. They hated getting up in the morning and hated facing going to work. I said, “Why don’t you quit?” He said, “I don’t want to lose my pension.” He stayed until he retired and then he died. Comfortability? Complacency? Fear?

We might feel a sense of restlessness, but, for the sake of comfortability we stay with what is a known quantity and try not to move. We tend to lead lives that head to nowhere unless there becomes a dramatic intervention.

  • A Pivot Point is either a response to an internal restlessness or it is a response to an external force that requires us to deal with our restlessness. A Pivot Point results in personal change. There is no avoiding it and there is no turning back.
  • Miller uses a term that he takes from the screenwriting profession. He wrties about an “inciting incident” that enters our lives and triggers change. An inciting incident, like a Pivot Point, forces change. Once hit by an inciting incident….there is no turning back. Miller writes, “Robert McKee says humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen.”

    And so, a Pivot Point, and the screenwriting term, inciting incident, are close to being identical. Perspective helps one understand how to read the meaning behind an inciting incident. Initially the Pivot Point/inciting incident may look like the judgement of God rather than the blessing it might be. Seen through the lens of faith, all activities can be filled with the Spirit. A Pivot Point, as inciting event, can give powerful direction as one determines the call. I think this concept helps me unpack Romans 8:28 where Paul writes, “all things turn to good for those who love the Lord.” What is good? What may not seem good can become good through the filter of faith when we see the hand of God present; transforming our lives.

    And so, we have a God who calls us to freedom. Miller says that the phrase, “Do not fear” appears in the Bible more than 200 times. When a Pivot Point or Inciting Incident hits our lives we are invited by the Spirit to hear the words, “Do Not Fear.” God is present and we are not alone.

    There is really no growth without a Pivot Point or an inciting event. When these events hit our lives it is good to have ways to process what it all means. A trusted mentor, friend, or spiritual mentor can give direction and support to those in need.

    So, fear not! God is in control and will continue to grant us insight, promise and hope in Jesus Christ who has set us free from all that holds us back from being all that God has made us to be.

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