Interruptions God uses

We’ve all experienced this. We make our plans for the day or week and something comes along that obliterates our carefully constructed agenda. Unless we are the one making the changes, we don’t like having our plans modified. After all, we have places we want to go and things we want to do.

Then along comes an interruption. Something explodes our plans and we have significant choices to make. We can become angry, frustrated, bitter and grouchy. Or we can use the interruption as a divine appointment. When it comes to God’s purposes, His timing is significantly more proficient and efficient than ours. Remember, as followers of Christ, we surrendered our times to His purposes.

In recent days, my wife Sharon and I have experienced a huge interruption. Sharon has experienced a biopsy and the surgical removal of a tumor in her neck. The pathology report reveals it is a melanoma. It was not on the skin. It was in a gland. 

On the very day The Pathway begins distribution of this issue, Sharon will go through a series of tests to determine the size and scope of a treatment strategy. Some of you know what this experience feels like, and needless to say it is not welcomed but present nonetheless. 

Three weeks ago we were on a disaster relief project in the Philippines led by Missouri Baptist Convention Disaster Relief (DR) Specialist Dwain Carter. During one evening’s time of fellowship, Sharon shared the following devotional thoughts:

“I’ve started a study on the book of Jonah. The Lord is beginning a new work in my heart about how I view interruptions in my life. Little did I know when I bought my Bible study book months ago that I would be in the middle of a health interruption, but God’s timing is always perfect.

“The book of Jonah is about a man whose life was interrupted by God. Jonah was living his life as a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel. God would give him a word and then he would share it with the people. Second Kings 14:25 tells us that King Jeroboam set the border of Israel according to the Word of the Lord Jonah received. He lived in a prosperous Israel. Because he foretold good things to the people of Israel, he was probably popular, highly respected and appreciated.

“Jonah’s interruption began in Jonah 1:1 when ‘The Word of the Lord’ came to him. God was basically changing Jonah’s priorities and instructing him to go in an entirely different direction. He would be giving up his plans and the comfort of the familiar to go to Nineveh.

“We have the privilege of reading the entire book of Jonah at one time. We see all the events laid out at once. But Jonah didn’t have that opportunity. If he could have read all four chapters, he would have seen that what he saw as a huge interruption in his life was really an invitation from God to use him to make a huge difference in the lives of people in Nineveh.

“The Filipino people we are ministering to this week had a huge interruption in their lives by Typhoon Yolanda. But as a result, they have experienced God’s love through the helping hands of Missouri Baptists. As we have shared with them, many of them have received Christ. The storm and the cooperative response of Missouri Southern Baptists were God’s transformational instruments.

“When the strategy for the DR project was initiated, we were planning to assemble and distribute water filtration systems to the people, but the filtration parts sank to the bottom of the ocean when the freighter carrying them went down in rough seas. In retrospect, we know that if we had accomplished that goal, we would have been more isolated from the people. Obviously, when we heard the news of no water filtration, that was an interruption.

“However, we shifted to construction. After all, the first word on mission trips is ‘flexibility.’ Now, we are restoring their homes and painting the school. The result is we have more direct contact with people and many have received Christ. 

“I was excited about the plan to give the people clean water and disappointed when that plan was changed. However, God was more interested in them receiving Living Water.

“I don’t know where this medical interruption in my life will take me, but I want to view it not as an ‘interruption’ but as ‘God’s intervention’ in my life for His purposes.

“As Priscilla Shirer states in the study, ‘When we sign up to follow Christ, we automatically signed up to be open to Divine Interventions – God interruptions. While His call might not always be convenient or easy, responding to it should not just be a duty but our joy.’

“Living a life devoted to Christ doesn’t mean we don’t have aspirations or that we shouldn’t make plans, but it does mean that we should be open for God to intervene. We should hold our dreams and plans in our hands and not in our hearts. We should be open to the Divine Interventions that come our way to mold us in His image. We can trust Him to have the best plan for us.”

By faith, Sharon has a handle on this. I confess I do not like what the love of my life is experiencing. But we both are learning that the interruptions/interventions are part of His purposes to accomplish something far more glorious than we could ever imagine. As co-laborers in Christ, we together must walk through this with a vision for God’s purposes and not our own. 

What has interrupted you or your church? As Christ-followers, we must view the challenge with eyes of hope in our Living Lord who “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).