Interruptions: Irritations or God’s Interventions
I am a routine kind of guy. I like schedules but certainly not so rigid that I can’t deviate every so often. Routine keeps me grounded and focused. Especially since I retired, it helps me to get things done and not just sit around purposeless.
When I have a busy day with lots to do and only so much time in which to do it, interruptions can easily become a frustration for me. My running joke with God is that I plan my day and that He will bless everything that I have scheduled. Of course God is neither impressed nor wants one of His children to become the master of their life. As I often say, “God loves to be God and Father knows best.”
The Bible is full of examples of how interruptions were either God ordained or used by Him to expand His kingdom. Look at what happened to the church in Acts 8:1. “A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem, and all the believers except the apostles fled into Judea and Samaria.” This is so horrible to be uprooted from your home and fleeing like a refugee. But in verse 4 we read, “But the believers who had fled Jerusalem went everywhere preaching the Good News about Jesus.” So God used a difficult interruption to become the beginning of the worldwide expansion of the faith.
My favorite interruption story is regarding Joseph in the Old Testament. He is one of twelve sons, the favorite of his father. He has two dreams which essentially reveal that he will rule over his father and brothers. His brothers are so jealous of him that they concoct a plot to sell him into slavery and deceive their father that Joseph had been killed.
While a slave in Egypt, through a series of events and no fault on Joseph’s part, he gets thrown into prison for about 12 years. God intervenes in a miraculous way to get him out of prison and become the second in command of all of Egypt. Nine years later the brothers come to Egypt in search of buying food, because of a severe famine. Egypt has food because of a forced savings plan that Joseph devised.
The brothers’ bow down to Joseph in fulfillment of his dreams, not knowing it is him, since he is the one that is in charge of food distribution. Eventually Joseph reveals himself and he is reunited with his father. Years later Joseph declares that even though the brothers meant evil for him, God had other plans to rescue his family from the famine. Essentially God interrupted Joseph’s life years earlier to bring about this great deliverance from starvation.
I have discovered that many times God will interrupt my life, but I don’t initially recognize His hand. Years ago I was working for a major utility company in Arizona, when the church I was attending asked me to consider becoming a staff pastor. At the time I was about a year away from becoming vested for a pension. But obviously the church couldn’t wait a year for me to make a decision, so I went off to a secluded area to pray.
As I was praying I couldn’t seem to focus on getting a specific answer, so I started trying to figure out the amount I would receive from the pension. Now mind you I was over 20 years away from being able to collect anything. As the hours passed, and frequent apologies I was making to God for not focusing, I figured out the monthly pension amount came to $300.
As I stared at that amount, the thought hit me, “do I miss out on my dream job, by working one more year for an additional $300 monthly amount 20 years from now?” It suddenly struck me that my seeming distraction was actually God interrupting me to get my attention. He was showing me the folly in my thinking of how important that small amount was compared to doing His will. As a result I enthusiastically told the lead pastor I was on board and promptly made arrangements to resign my current job.
So why then is it so hard for me to trust that many times interruptions are God’s divine handiwork? I believe that for me and others, interruptions appear to ruin things that have been planned, and not something that God is doing. Also, since we don’t always see the big picture, interruptions can look like problems and not divine blessings.
When difficult situations come not caused by God, like a pandemic, it is hard to see how God can do something for me in it. I tend to be miserable, complain, and just try to cope. I might see the difficulty as an obstacle, not an opportunity.
So my counsel is when our lives get disrupted, to first ask God if this is Him. If we start with Him and discover that God is behind the interruption, then we can see what this interruption will accomplish. If the interruption didn’t come from God, ask Him what we can still do to bring about his purposes? After all shouldn’t our prayer be, “not my will, but your will be done.”