We were recently on a vacation when God interrupted my plans. My family and I had traveled hundreds of miles to stay at a hotel on the beach. I had made arrangements to spend one day visiting with friends. But then, in the middle of the night, the night before my scheduled day out, one of my kids woke up sick. I spent the whole next day stuck inside, staring out the hotel window at the long stretch of beach that was just outside of my reach.
An Interrupted Life
My life is filled with interruptions, inconveniences, frustrations, and unexpected events. Things break. Accidents happen. The phone rings just as I climb into bed. Traffic makes me late. Just when we don’t need another added expense, an appliance breaks. Unexpected illnesses change my carefully crafted plans. I could go on and on. You probably could too.
The problem is, I usually handle these interruptions to my life poorly. I react with frustration and anger. Like a young child, I want to stomp my feet and say, “It’s not fair!” I blame others for inconveniencing me. I’ll even throw my own pity-parties.
Though these interruptions are unexpected and catch me off guard, they do not catch God off guard. They are not random, meaningless events. In fact, these interruptions are divinely placed in my path for a reason. God uses these interruptions to change me to be more like Christ.
Slow traffic, a sick child, or a costly home repair may not seem like important tools in our sanctification, but they are. We often overlook these interruptions and inconveniences and instead expect God to work in our lives through huge life-changing circumstances. But the reality is, we won’t often have major events in our life that cause us to trust God and obey him in some deeply profound way. We won’t be called to build an ark or take an only child up Mt. Moriah. Rather, it’s in these small frustrations and interruptions, the little things in our life, where we are given opportunities to rely on God, to obey him, and bring him glory.
Paul Tripp puts it like this:
You and I don’t live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don’t careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn’t set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life. It’s the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what’s really going on in our hearts. (Whiter Than Snow, 21)
Interruptions of Grace
These ten thousand little moments come in the form of our children asking us to play a game with them when we are tied up with something else. They are moments like when we get stuck behind a school bus when we’re already late to an appointment, or when we have a flat tire on the way to work. They are in all those moments all throughout the day when things don’t go our way, our plans fail, and our life is interrupted.
It’s these moments where the rubber meets the road — where our faith is stretched and we look down to see whether we are standing on rock or sand. Do we really believe that God is in control of all the details of our life? Do we really believe that his grace is sufficient to get us through the day? Do we really believe that the gospel of Christ is powerful enough to not only save us for eternity but also to sustain and strengthen us in the midst of life’s interruptions? Do we really believe that Christ is enough to satisfy all the deepest needs of our heart?
These interruptions are acts of God’s grace. They force us to work through these questions. They make us face our sin. They are God’s way of taking off our blinders and making us see that we need the gospel in every moment of the day. They are a light that shines on the darkest recesses of our heart, revealing the truth of what’s really there — the sins and idols that we’ve pushed off into the corner, thinking that if we can’t see them, they must not exist.
The Reminder We Need
These interruptions remind us that we don’t have life figured out and that we can’t do it on our own. They are like the Shepherd’s rod, pulling us back from our wandering ways, back to our Great Shepherd. We need these interruptions. Like nothing else, they push us to the cross of Christ where we must remember the gospel and receive his grace and forgiveness.
It’s hard to see all the little frustrating events and interruptions in our day as divinely placed opportunities to grow in grace, but they are. And seeing them as such helps us take our eyes off ourselves and put them on Christ, who cares more about our transformation than about our daily comfort. Rather than giving us a life of ease, he interrupts our lives with grace and shows us what we need most of all — himself.
How about you? Is your life filled with interruptions? Do you see God’s hand at work in them?