Have you ever been on a road trip with specific destinations in mind, only to discover some other adventure along the way? Perhaps you see a sign for a place that sounds interesting, or there is road construction, so you take a different route, leading you to new places to explore, interesting people to meet, or a situation where your help is needed and you’re so glad you came along. But what if you refuse to take the alternate route? You’re on a schedule, or comfortable in your air conditioning. You miss out.
We do this all the time in our journey with God. We get comfortable, or are on a tight schedule already, and think we don’t need to be interrupted by a divine appointment of any kind.
But God doesn’t do anything without a purpose. When He interrupts us, there’s a reason. It could be an opportunity to share His love/grace/good news/encouragement with someone that needs it, if we could just stretch ourselves out of our comfort zone. It could be a trial that we really don’t want to face, but is necessary for our growth or His glory. It could be that we’re on the wrong path, being led into temptation or addiction or something else that could wreak havoc in our lives, and He corrects us so we’ll get back on the right road. Sometimes it’s nothing this dramatic, but just a concept or issue in our life that He brings to the forefront for us to deal with before it becomes a devastating issue.
God has interrupted me with all of these and more. Funny thing, after I’d been given the theme of “interruptible” to write about, I came across a book about it without even trying. I was looking up Priscilla Shirer books on Amazon, because I like her Bible studies and recently discovered that she has YA fantasy novels. And saw that she had a book called Life Interrupted: Navigating the Unexpected. So I picked it up at the library the next morning.
The book follows the Bible story of Jonah, and how God interrupted his comfortable life with a calling he didn’t want to do. Ironically, the book itself was an interruption. It’s prompting me to do some things I really don’t want to do, like extend forgiveness again. Or pray for people that I don’t really want to pray for. And to look at how interruptible I am. Am I really willing to do what He calls me to, even when it’s not convenient? But I am encouraged by it, as well. Shirer says in discussing when God disciplines us, “When we feel His correction particularly heavy upon us, it’s sometimes not so much in proportion to past or recent sin as in proportion to the great task awaiting us when He’s done, when we’ve endured it.” How awesome is that? And I’ve seen it happen in my own life.
After I wrote the first draft of this, with an example from my life several years ago, I got tested on this very concept. The back of the book says “Interruptions. They’re aggravating. Sometimes infuriating. They make us want to tell people what we think of them. But how we handle interruptions actually tells us more about ourselves.” Boy howdy, I saw that firsthand this week.
On Sunday, I had texted my friend’s college-age daughter from Southern Oregon. She had stayed with me a bit last summer and house-sat for me. She’s a sweet young lady, but I hadn’t chatted with her for a while and needed her address to send her a Christian book and CD, so I sent her a text message on my phone. I asked if she was still living with her mom or on her own. The text I received back said “she” was good, living on “her” own in Eugene. I was surprised by this, asked why, and said I was glad she was doing well.
Well… unfortunately, the person that responded was not my friend’s daughter. She must have changed her phone number over the year. Because at 10:23 that night, my phone rang, and I got an earful from an angry wife who could not be convinced that I was not having an affair with her husband. Evidently my text had reached him, instead. Really! My life isn’t easy, but it is definitely not that dramatic (thank goodness!). The poor lady could not be consoled, or convinced that my friend’s daughter’s name was not a pet name for her husband. Eventually she hung up, and I blocked both phone numbers and called the police non-emergency line to find out what to do. I was so rattled that I couldn’t sleep, but hey, I got all my grading done late that night! And I prayed, but mostly selfishly. I prayed a little for her, but mostly for my own protection. I wanted to lash out at her for interrupting my night and making me nervous that I’ll be called to court or visited by private investigators. And I wanted to call her Crazy Lady and other names for hurting my self-righteous pride by accusing me of something I think I’d never do, and let loose some of my drama queen teenage students on her. I finally fell into a restless sleep.
But God wasn’t done with my heart. Over the next day, I felt more and more compassion for her. Who knows why she reacted this way (he certainly wasn’t innocent in this- he didn’t even have the decency to write back that it was a wrong number and he didn’t know me!). But having experienced a bad marriage and divorce myself, I knew that they probably both have issues, or at least things to deal with, and it’s not my place to judge either of them. They both needed prayer, just as much as my ex-husband and I did. So the next night, I prayed for them for real. On my knees. Humbly and compassionately (finally!), I prayed for their marriage. For God’s will to be done in it, for His best for both of them (and any children they may have).
I felt very much like Jonah at that point. Who knows if they had anyone else in their lives to pray for them? But God allowed my life to be interrupted, and I have to believe that there was a purpose in that. Hopefully, my prayers will somehow help them. It taught me once again to surrender more quickly to His will. Previous (and bigger) interruptions in my life have always taught me something, too. Usually it’s to trust Him more. And many times, those interruptions have blessed me in ways I’d have never imagined.
Dear God, please keep interrupting me. Forgive me when I don’t respond quickly and with a surrendered heart. Help me to trust You fully. And thank You so much for loving me, and for giving me second chances and new adventures.