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Will This Momentary Interruption Innovate Great Things?

By April 10, 2020August 31st, 2022No Comments
interruption

This week is a holy week of anticipation for people of faith. However, with our isolation due to the current world concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19), it feels more like a week of frustration.

Typical Passover and Easter traditions and observances are interrupted or canceled.

People of the Jewish faith, who usually celebrate Passover with family and friends over eight days, set their tables with ritual Seder foods and come together utilizing video chat formats. Says Rabbi Laurie Coskey, “Although no theological significance can be attributed to the pandemic, a sense of the vulnerability of our humanity and our need for connection is heightened at a time when we cannot be comforted by our loved ones or beloved rituals in ways we have in the past.” Many others agree that the typical discussions about the Passover story of journeying from enslavement to liberation will feel different and more personal this year.

Christians across the world gather for Good Friday and Easter services utilizing technology. Local television stations partner with churches to broadcast and live stream church Easter services. As churches rapidly adopt online services to maintain a connection with their parishioners, they’ve realized the gaps in their digital ministry. Pastor Keith Brown thinks that this forced separation is a reminder that the church is people, not a building. “We see what we are missing when we cannot get together in fellowship. I think when we finally can do that again, we will be a stronger church.”

Though I’m thankful for technology that allows us to connect virtually, this interruption makes us hunger to be together.

In the last few blog posts, we’ve talked about various ways to combat the negative emotions that want to take up residence with us in quarantine. I’ve suggested several ways to fight back against the gloomy cloud over this stay-at-home order:

Survival Tips for Your Hurting Marriage

Daydreaming About Your Future

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Stability

          Live Exuberantly

Prayers for Your Wounded Marriage

Anticipation. Frustration. Interruption.

Our lives have been interrupted.

Does God interrupt us?

The Jewish celebration of Passover shows God interrupting Egypt’s and Israel’s status quo.

Ten plagues decimated the country. A prince-turned-prophet and a slave-priest who requested, then demanded that Pharaoh release his slaves—all of them at once! —to worship their God in the wilderness. Pharaoh refuses—what slave master wouldn’t—and sets off a series of events that destroy his country and kills his oldest son.

Israel gets thrown out of Egypt to begin a journey toward the Promised Land. More importantly, they start a journey of learning the greatness of God and His miraculous provision.

Fast forward from the Israelites wandering to Jesus’s last week in Jerusalem.

Imagine being one of Jesus’ disciples the days before the crucifixion. Jesus tells them he’s come to Jerusalem to die. Yet, he says he’s the Messiah. According to their understanding and teaching, the Messiah would come to save Israel from oppression. I’d be confused. I’ve watched all the miracles he’s done. I’ve listened to his words and watched him confound the wisest men in Israel with his understanding of the Torah. What does he mean he’s going to die? That makes no sense.

But that’s what happened. Crucified. Dead. He was not breathing. Buried in a tomb sealed with a huge stone. How could Jesus be Messiah? What just happened doesn’t fit the understanding or prophecies. The disciples scatter as their normal and anticipated way of life is destroyed. That’s what we call Good Friday. When we remember Jesus’ crucifixion, because we use hindsight, we see God’s plan. His death interrupted the plans each disciple had—the plans His followers had. Where was the power, the fearless leader, what in the world are they supposed to do now that everyone knows they were sold out for a dead man?

But Sunday morning, the world flips upside down again. History interrupted.

The laws of physics interrupted. That huge stone? Pushed out of the way—way, way out of the way. The tomb? No dead body there. Jesus appears to several women, then the disciples. He’s alive! He appears to the disciples who hid fearing for their lives. The door was locked, and the room was hidden. But Jesus knew.

Jesus interrupted history to change history and eternity for you and me. I’m thankful he did!

I believe God interrupted our lives recently to get our attention.

Several years ago, I read a novel about a day when the power grid went down. One moment there was electricity and the next nothing—no electronics, telephones, cellular networks, or radios. Instead, silence and darkness dominated. I thought about this book today. A family in crisis, overcome with fear, store shelves emptied rapidly, and other scenarios that sound eerily familiar.

James 1:2-8 in The Message version says:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

If you, like me at moments in the last month, are worrying your prayers, it’s time for a mindset shift.

It’s time to allow God to interrupt our lives and trust him.

What if instead of this…………………………………………………. You and I trade up to this:

Worried response………………………………………………………… Trust God response

Frozen in fear………………………………………………………………. Faith in God

Hoarding…………………………………………………………………….. Helping others

Panic over circumstances……………………………………………… Peace because you trust God

Grumpy words…………………………………………………………….. Gracious words

Negative thoughts……………………………………………………….. Nurturing input

Rejecting…………………………………………………………………….. Relational

Overwhelmed……………………………………………………………… Overcoming

Languish……………………………………………………………………… Learning

Dread for tomorrow…………………………………………………….. Delight in today

Cornered by obstacles………………………………………………..   Creative solutions

How will you allow God to interrupt your worry and give you peace?

Reread James 1. The Bible says to consider it a gift when tests and challenges come at you. That’s not my usual response. But as I look back over history, every time there’s been a plague, world catastrophe, or some other massive life interruption, I find stories of people like you and me who demonstrate a deep, abiding faith in God. These people run toward the crisis instead of away from it. They seek to find solutions to help their fellow man instead of self-protection and preservation.

During any large-scale interruption, creative solutions arise.

Many of the standard life conveniences we expect resulted from a need for a think-outside-the-box answer. We call the people who came up with these unusual solutions brilliant. They got past their fear and unlocked their creativity instead.

Today, I wonder if God interrupted my comfortable life to open my eyes to something bigger?

A few weeks before the COVID-19 issue forced itself on all our lives, I sensed God telling me I was playing too small. There was something better, grander than I could see at that moment. This forced slowdown, while hard on the financial side, has caused me to stop doing, pause, and evaluate. What have I invested hours and resources in that is unnecessary? What needs to be removed from my life? How can I serve others better? What can I learn about God’s character right now?

What if this worldwide crisis is God’s interruption to show us a better way?

  • Have you had better connections and conversations with your kids?
  • What does it feel like to eat dinner together each night? Before this forced slowdown, when was the last time that happened in your home?
  • Are you getting more regular rest?
  • Who have you contacted by phone, email, FaceTime, Google Hangout, or snail mail that you haven’t in too long?
  • What home projects are you tackling that you’ve put off?
  • Are you learning something new?
  • Have you and your spouse re-discovered why you chose each other?
  • Did this new normal offer an opportunity for your wounded marriage to take a step toward healing?
  • Where do you see God providing for you during this crisis?
  • What hurts about this crisis?
  • Do you miss the harried lifestyle?
  • What creative solutions have you discovered for an obstacle?
  • Are you lashing out at everyone in your house out of fear, frustration, or false expectations?
  • What forced changes to your schedule will you keep?

Don’t waste this interruption by pining for what was.

Life as we knew it has forever changed. God interrupted our normal and caused a pivot. When this is over, and it will be, who will you be?

What you and I do with this interruption impacts our future today.

There will be great inventions from this interruption.

There will be new relationships formed.

Families will change for good or worse, it’s up to the people involved.

Life will not return to what it once was. Normal is redefined.

I pray we all learn to be more generous with others, more gracious in our words, and much less concerned about stuff. During this interruption, I pray that for myself.

Psalm 32:7-8 reminds us:

For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.

Father in Heaven, you interrupted our lives. You got our attention.

For those with family members who are ill, and can’t be with them due to health restrictions, bring comfort both to the sick person and to those who desire to be with them.

For those who’ve suffered death, comfort those left behind.

For marriages wounded by addiction or abuse, protect each person and open their eyes and hearts to seek healing.

For the person who’s addicted to pornography, or any other substance, bring healing. Do not let Satan drag them deeper into the addiction.

For those suffering from depression, allow them to hear your voice and seek you for hope and then reach out to someone for help.

For parents overwhelmed with online school, increase their strength and wisdom. Bring laughter and fun into our homes.

Show us your better way to live together in peace, joy, and love. Increase our faith in you. Let us see your gracious hand, your merciful healing from this pandemic, and your deep abiding love. Fill us with your peace. Overshadow our homes with your powerful presence. May we come through this crisis with a more profound love for you and faith in your character.