God interruptions

“the gospels are stories of interruption after interruption”

follow me to freedom, shane claiborne & john perkins

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God interruptions.  they’re annoying.  they’re unnerving.  they come at al the wrong times.  they mess up all our plans.  they usually stir up some kind of trouble in our heads and our hearts.   they involve us in what we don’t really want to be involved in. they force us to do things we don’t want to do.  they teach us things we don’t want to be taught.

yeah, when our lives are “interrupted” there’s usually something wild & beautiful happening in the midst.  sometimes the loveliness is so apparent in the moment that we can’t miss it.  other times it looks much more like trying to see through mud but eventually the murk clears and we see the beauty.  and yet other times, we may never see the whole story & can only years later catch slivers of goodness in it.

i love the story of the hemorrhaging woman in the Bible who is desperate for Jesus’ healing.  she clamors to find him as he is on his way to heal someone else in Mark 5.   she touches the hem of his garment and is healed, but he takes time to stop, to notice her, to interact with her–when the truth of the matter is the healing was already done & he had other places he needed to be.   this is just one of many stories in the gospels where Jesus is “interrupted” by people along the way. i have no idea what was going on in his heart and head in the moment, but i do know this–he didn’t seem to be super ruffled by it.

the refuge team is reading follow me to freedom by shane claiborne & john perkins together. one of the chapters includes a section on this story and the importance of God’s little & big interruptions in our lives.  it emphasizes how critical it is for us to be willing to stop and engage with what’s right in front of us instead of being so focused on where we are going. to take time to interact with the people around us that we could easily “miss” when we are on our cell phones & computers & running on fumes after a really long day at work.  it reminds me that really, in the big scheme of things, many of the things i think are really important, aren’t.

my life is filled with little God interruptions all the time.  people, people, people.  kids, kids, kids.   sometimes i can see the beauty in the interruption.  sometimes i’m just plain annoyed.  but one thing i continue to learn is how most of the things that are “waiting” on the other side of some of these interactions aren’t nearly as important as the lovely & beautiful moments where i am able to connect with a real person’s heart, a real person’s story, a real person’s pain, a real person’s dream, a real person’s hope.

and while i don’t mind little God interruptions as much, the big ones really get under my skin.  like being layed up with a ruptured disc right before the holidays when my husband is about to be gone to training on the east coast for 3 months and my son’s coming home from college.  like 5 years ago losing a job i really loved.   like kids making really bad decisions that can affect their future.  like when people you love end up in huge traumatic situations and need your care & support for the long haul and you’re strapping in for a rough, bumpy ride.

but the more i think about it, the more i am convinced that life is about interruptions. about being willing to make detours because life is full of them.  to quit focusing on the imaginary finish line and be open to what’s right in front of us.  to be willing to be bugged & bothered & interrupted by God’s precious people living life & calling out for help & longing for hope.  to see that even though things aren’t going anywhere near the direction i thought they should be that it’s still good, beautiful, and just-fine-the-way-it-is-because-God-is-in-all-things-not-just-the-easy-things.

yeah, God interruptions are these little lovely reminders that this world does not revolve around me, even though we act like it might.  (once i shared at the refuge about the world revolving around me; someone there said, “hey, the world can’t revolve around you, because it’s already revolving around me!” that made me laugh.).  i am learning that my responsibility here on this earth isn’t to create a safe bubble of comfort & ease.  it’s about being humble, open, willing, and flexible.  to trust that God interruptions aren’t meant to drag me down or annoy me or to teach-me-a-lesson-i-haven’t-learned-properly-yet.

rather, there’s little opportunities to touch & taste & see & hear & participate in the kingdom of God in the here and now. a chance to intersect with people’s real lives.  a chance to intersect with my own spiritual formation.  a chance to intersect with God-at-work-in-the-weird-little-interruptions-that-life-seems-to-always-bring.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

8 Comments

  • When I saw the title, I was like… O NO, I don’t think I can read this one just yet… but I did and am SO glad that I did. It’s been hard for me to not think about all the things “I should” be doing! I have thought of this cancer as an incredibly annoying interruption… ugh… thanks for your words and your heart that lead me back to where I need to be… now to figure out how to get there!!! 🙂 I love you.

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  • Ha! How do you always seem to hit the nail on the head? Thank you for the reminder… I’ll be noting my distractions from now on with simple lovliness and less annoyance! :0)

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  • i think that imaginary finish line i have been striving to cross is as elusive as the wind. the only time i’ll cross it will be when i’m in the box in the ground and people are throwing dirt on top of me. i’m beginning to see that the interruptions are what the journey is really about, but i’d have to say i enjoy then as much as i enjoy the constant detours i encounter from all the road construction in town. lol, the funny thing about those detours is that they force me to slow down and see all the beauty around me, if only i will slow down, be patient and accept them and quit fighting them.

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  • Thank you Kathy for yet another wonderful, insightful blog posting. Reading this blog is a small refresher in my day!

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  • “to be willing to be bugged & bothered & interrupted by God’s precious people living life & calling out for help & longing for hope.”

    Ohhh yes, I needed to humble myself and remember this whole principle this week, for sure. It is a good thing, however, because I have a tendency to equate my security on how well I can perform with what I *planned* to do. The “J” part of my Myers-Briggs type is my downfall when I hold it *too* close to my core identity. Thanks for helping me remember (again) that it is the journey, not some ethereal destination that we are in it for…. 🙂

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  • donna – oh i think of you so much as i’m lying on the couch. sending all kinds of love & prayers & hope your way. patience is a horrible spiritual practice, ha ha.

    tami
    – i love the “simple loveliness & less annoyance” thought. so good.

    dan- thanks for reading & for sharing…

    annie – me, too. i keep reflecting on that and have become painfully aware of how often i say “once i do this, once the kids are…, once the refuge is…, once the..fill in the blank” and those are all imaginary finish lines that need to go!

    mike – that made me laugh, that is so true, how annoying those constructions detours are, especially the ones on 104th when i forget to avoid it and end up there at i-25, ha ha. such a great metaphor.

    debbie – thanks for reading & so sad i missed phx.

    stacy
    – oh yeah, that’s why i always call this Jesus school. there is no ability here to master anything or get all A’s every time, ha ha.

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