Lisa and I were out of town on vacation when our beach day was interrupted by a text from our daughter that stated, “Just so you both know… I refer to the time I was supposed to be punished and dad said my punishment was ‘grace’ more often than you will ever know. Such a life changing moment for me! Had you not done that… I may have never understood the feeling and purpose of grace. Love you guys.”
My journey in Christ began as a child and continues to this day. However, life has its interruptions, and as a result, I have come to find out through progressive revelation that living the Christian life does not exempt us from these interruptions. Therefore, I find myself, curiously, looking at these interruptions and trying to understand their source and their purpose.
Interruptions are varied: some are insignificant while others are life changing. I have seen interruptions that were irritating and others that have been welcomed. Think about the interruptions you have experienced, and I am sure that you, like me, will find that you have experienced the gamete as I have. The flat tire, soar throat, sick child, unexpected company, broken refrigerator, loss of a job, loss of a loved one, a difficult teenager, a difficult marriage, a church split, a doctor’s diagnosis, the blown knee and on and on. What is the interruption in your life today? What was the source of that interruption, and even more importantly, what was the purpose of that interruption? How did you respond?
One source of interruptions is God. When God interrupts our life, the primary purpose of that interruption usually has to do with his call on your life or his correction in your life. Imagine eves dropping on God’s conversation with Abram in Genesis 12. Simply put, God interrupts Abram’s life with a request. The request: leave everything and follow me. Leave what you know and trust me to lead you. The request, simple enough from our perspective, is radical and life changing from Abram’s perspective. Jump over to Luke 19 and read the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus is not well liked by his fellow neighbors and constituents, for very good reasons. He has a license, given to him by Rome, to steal from his fellow man. Zacchaeus is loyal to Zacchaeus, however, curiously has a deep desire to see Jesus. Due to his stature and state, he is prevented from seeing Jesus, until he climbs his tree. The power of the story is when Jesus interrupts Zacchaeus in the tree and invites himself to dinner, to the great surprise of all those around him. Zacchaeus is valued by Jesus, not judged. The Bible says, we love him because he first loved us.
Secondly, I (me, myself and I) am a source of interruption. I have found that when I interrupt God in my life, it’s always birthed in selfishness (James 1:13-15) and has a very limited perspective. Turn to Samuel 11 and we find ourselves in the very famous story of David and Bathsheba. The account begins by saying that when kings go do what kings do, king David decided to pass. One evening while taking an evening stroll on his porch, David eyes a beautiful woman bathing and desires her. He inquires of her and is told she is a married woman. He requests her company and the rest is history. David, disobedient to God’s secondary call on his life, is enticed by his fleshly desires. One can make the argument that his desires to not go and command his army, a king’s duty, was harvested in the same field as his desire to take a married woman to bed. David had a fleshly desire, and David met that desire. David’s desire was very selfish and bore with it significant consequences, including the fact that we are talking about that one fateful evening thousands of years later.
Thirdly, Satan seeks to interrupt our lives. The Bible describes him as a deceiver and devourer. When Satan interrupts, he always uses deception and always seeks to destroy. I have found that Satan’s interruptions consistently dismiss the characteristics and promises of God. Genesis 3 describes for us the encounter that Eve has with Satan. Satan begins the conversation with a lie, indicating that he understands that God has made all the fruit of the trees in the garden off limits. Eve corrects him and indicates only the fruit of the tree of good and evil has been made off limits. God is the creator, and we are the created. The creator proves that we are the created by demonstrating what belongs to the creator and what belongs to the created. Adam and Eve had been told by God to enjoy the creation, fill the creation, name the creatures in the creation, and manage the creation. Satan undermines this with a lie, suggesting to Eve that God is not being forthright and fears that his creation will be like him if they know the difference between good and evil. They can create on their own, they can live in their garden and not his, and they can become gods themselves. Adam and Eve succumb.
Discerning the source
I have concluded the following from my journey with the Lord and upon closer examination of life’s interruptions and their sources. First, I ought to yearn and invite God’s interruptions…beg for them. When God interrupts, obey him. Secondly, grow suspicious and cautious of my assumptions. I am inherently selfish and my perspectives are wrong (Proverbs 3:5-6). I must surrender my will, my passions, my goals, my understandings and my life. Thirdly, and lastly, flee and fight Satan’s interruptions. I do this by knowing the truth, and that comes from communing with God. Jesus, in Matthew defended himself from Satan’s temptations because he knew the truth. I must draw close to him and I must know the truth.
Finally, my wife and I were taking a weekend get away, strolling on the beach and enjoying bliss until she informed me that the child that we were fostering may become adoptable, and she felt that the Lord was telling her we ought to adopt this child. You must understand that we already had four children of our own, and I was looking forward to the empty nest days. We had entered the world of foster care several years earlier with a desire to provide a stable home environment to children who found themselves in a place where their home environment had been interrupted. We never intended to adopt. Therefore, this conversation took me a little by surprise. I was honest with my wife and said I did not see it; however, God may be up to something, so let’s pray and take it day-by-day and step-by-step. The perceived interruption had to be looked at carefully. What was the source of this interruption? Was God behind this? Perhaps my wife’s desire to stay in the world of motherhood was the source (self interruptions) or was Satan up to something, disguising his handiwork as something sweet and noble? Today, we are proud parents of a wonderful little girl that we adopted in the fall of 2010. Yes, God was the source of the interruption, and yes, we learned that when God interrupts a blessing follows.
Stephan N Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.