“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus’. ” Luke 1:30-31
Interruptions are inevitable. It’s just the way life works. But, I keep asking myself, why is it that they come at such inopportune times? After listening to a zillion options in the phone-answering menu, someone will start talking to me and I miss the key moment only to have to redial and go through the whole thing again! And who’s the bozo that always rings the doorbell just when the game-changing play is about to happen? Well, I guess we could learn to live with interruptions if it weren’t for the fact that some of life’s interruptions are disruptive on a far more serious scale—a phone call from the doctor giving you bad news about your cancer tests, that pink slip on your desk, the unexpected loss of a loved one, or an unwanted job transfer all stack up as devastating surprises.
Which brings to mind how Joseph and Mary must have felt when their lives were dramatically interrupted by angelic announcements. Their future was bright until the divine announcements threatened their sense of well-being to the core. If all you have is the Christmas-card mentality—Oh, how precious to see Mary, Joseph, and the child with angels fluttering over them!—then you’ve missed the magnitude of just how disruptive God’s interruptions were. What would Mary tell her mother, to say nothing of all the relatives and busybodies in her little village? Do we think for a moment that any of them would believe the story that began with “An angel told me . . .”? And for Joseph’s part, everyone would conclude that he had violated his fiancée’s virginity—which in those days would have been a damning breach of religious and cultural standards. Believe me, no one would want a “Kitchens by Joseph” sign in his or her front yard anymore!
Given the weight of it all, the amazing element in their story is that they both accepted the interruptions with a sense of resolved surrender. A surrender that put them in a place where God could accomplish far more through them than their uninterrupted lives ever would have dreamed of. Though awkward and challenging, God’s unexpected change in their plans gave them the honor of parenting the very Son of God. And our world has never been the same again—to say nothing of our lives!
There’s a lesson here for us. When God interrupts our best laid plans and expectations—even when it seems like the outcomes are devastating—He has a far greater thing in mind for us. God’s worthiness and glory is far more evident when it is expressed in the midst of suffering. There is no greater confirmation of the trustworthiness of God than when we trust Him even in the face of the unexpected insecurities and uncertainties of life. And who knows what He has in store through you in terms of impact in future generations when He rearranges your life? I can’t always tell you what God is up to, but I can assure you that He uses interruptions to do things far beyond what we ever dreamed.
So this Christmas, let’s get the point. When interruptions come, stop resisting. Surrender and start looking for the hand of God as you serve Him obediently in spite of the uncertainty that is staring you in the face.
I’ve often wondered: What if Noah had said, “I don’t do boats!” or if Moses had complained, “I don’t do crowds!” or if Job had insisted, “I don’t do suffering” or if Mary had declined, “No thanks, a virgin birth is too great a risk” or, ultimately, if Jesus had said, “I don’t do crosses!”?
Trust Him. He knows what He is doing with your life!
- Reflect on a time when God “interrupted” your life at a seemingly inopportune moment. What was your first reaction to that interruption? What was the outcome?
- Is it hard for you to trust God when unusual circumstances invade your life? Find a verse that will help anchor your trust in Him next time He “interrupts” you!
- Read the account of the angelic interruptions in Luke 1:26-38 and Matthew 1:18-25. What can you learn from Mary and Joseph’s reactions to the news that turned their lives upside-down? Ask the Lord to give you the same quiet resolve to surrender yourself to His plan.