Obeying God Through Life's Interruptions
July 1, 2011
Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.—Jeremiah 33:3
By Stephan Tchividjian
The other night, I was out of town on a speaking engagement when a text from my older daughter suddenly interrupted my sleep. It stated, matter of fact, that her friend’s father had been found dead, cause unknown.
An interruption of a different kind affected a recent discussion that my wife, Lisa, and I were having, one of those weighty conversations about schedules, budgets and impending decisions. Though we were discussing important stuff, that didn’t stop our 3-year-old daughter from interrupting us because she was thirsty and needed her “dink” right then. She persisted until we stopped our conversation to meet her immediate demand.
Life is filled with interruptions—some insignificant, others life-changing.
Living the Christian life does not exempt us from interruptions. My journey in Christ began as a child and continues to this day. And I find myself still looking at these interruptions and trying to understand their source and their purpose—and how they affect my obedience to God.
What is the interruption in your life today? What is its source, and even more important, what is the purpose of that interruption and how are you responding?
One source of interruptions is God. When God interrupts our routine, the primary purpose usually involves His call on our life and/or His correction. Take for example Abram in Genesis 12. Simply put, God interrupted Abram’s life with a command: Leave everything you know and follow Me, trusting Me to lead you. The command was radical and changed the course of Abram’s life. He obeyed!
Now consider Zacchaeus in Luke 19. Zacchaeus was not well liked, for good reason. As a chief tax collector, he had license to steal from his fellow citizens. When Jesus entered Jericho, Zacchaeus curiously had a deep desire to see Him. Due to his small stature, he was prevented from seeing Jesus, until he climbed a tree. The power of the story came when Jesus interrupted Zacchaeus while he was in the tree and invited Himself to dinner. Zacchaeus, too, obeyed.
A second source of interruptions can be people—that’s you and me. When we interrupt what God is doing in our lives, it’s always birthed in selfishness (James 1:13-15) and has a very limited perspective.
Turn to 2 Samuel 11 for the story of David and Bathsheba. The account begins by describing how King David reneged on doing as kings do in the spring: going to battle. One evening, while taking a stroll on his porch, David eyed a beautiful woman bathing and desired her. He inquired and was told she was married. David requested her company and, enticed by his own lusts, disobeyed God’s commandments and committed adultery. Then he committed murder to cover it up. One can make the argument that his desire not to go and command his army—a king’s duty—was the initial interruption that led to his sin of taking a married woman to bed. David’s fleshly desires bore consequences, evidenced by the fact that we are talking about that one fateful evening thousands of years later.
Third, Satan seeks to interrupt our lives. The Bible depicts him as a deceiver and one who devours. When Satan interrupts, he always uses deception and always seeks to destroy. Satan’s interruptions consistently dismiss the attributes and promises of God.
Genesis 3 describes Satan’s encounter with Eve. Satan begins the conversation with a lie, saying he understands that God has made all the fruit of the trees in the garden off limits. Eve explains that only the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is forbidden. Satan suggests 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—not His—and they can become gods themselves. Adam and Eve succumb to the temptation and disobey.
In my own journey with the Lord and upon closer examination of the Scriptures, I’ve made several conclusions about interruptions. First, I ought to yearn for and invite God’s interruptions (Jeremiah 33:3). He made us and knows what is best for us and for His plan (Jeremiah 29:11). So, when God interrupts, obedience should be my utmost priority (John 14:21).
On the other hand, self and Satan can lead me to disobey. So, second, I need to grow suspicious and cautious of my own assumptions. Since I am inherently selfish and my heart is deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), my earthly perspectives are wrong (Proverbs 3:5-6). I must surrender my will, my passions, my goals, my understandings—my life.
Finally, I must flee and fight Satan’s interruptions (1 Peter 5:8-11). I do this by knowing the truth, and that comes from communing with God. Jesus, in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, defended Himself against Satan’s temptations because He knew the truth and quoted it. I must draw close to Him and pray for God’s strength to help me to follow Him each day.
Lisa and I were taking a weekend getaway, strolling on the beach and enjoying bliss until she informed me that the child that we were taking care of as foster parents might become adoptable. Lisa sensed that the Lord was telling her that we ought to adopt this child. Now, we already had four children and I was looking forward to an empty nest someday.
We had entered the world of foster care to provide a stable home environment to children whose home environment had been disrupted. We never intended to adopt. So this conversation took me by surprise.
I was honest with Lisa that I did not see it. However, if God was up to something, I agreed that we should pray and take it day by day and step by step. This perceived interruption had to be evaluated carefully. Was God behind it? Perhaps it was Lisa’s human desire to stay in the world of motherhood. Or, was Satan disguising his handiwork as something sweet and noble?
Today, we are proud parents of a wonderful little girl. We adopted Zumarie Grace in the fall of 2010. Yes, God was the source of this ultimately welcomed interruption. And yes, we learned anew that when God interrupts and when we obey, a blessing follows.
©2011 Stephan Tchividjian
Stephan N. Tchividjian is president of the National Christian Foundation of South Florida and the Caleb Group. He also serves as an associate pastor at Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale.