Sickness has found its way into my household. My young kids who struggle to share their toys seem glad to share their germs–cycling colds, eye infections and tummy aches throughout our family for weeks on end. Although these seasons can be invitations to slow down and rest, they can also be discouraging when there is seemingly no end in sight. As I've slowed down the past month, I've been asking the question, "Lord, what are you trying to teach me?"
Have you ever had seasons like this- days filled with unexpected interruptions that make you slow down, change course or reflect on life? When your plans are interrupted by illness, job loss or conflict, how do you respond?
To me, these interruptions often feel bothersome. "My plans" are in disarray. My control is gone. My days feel ruined. I get uncomfortable as I discover that my true desires for the days are exposed. My faith, or lack thereof, is revealed. But what if these interruptions weren't really interruptions at all? What if they were invitations to join God in his plans?
So often as Americans, we want our lives to go smoothly. We want healthy bodies, financial abundance, and as little inconveniences as possible. Unfortunately, if this is our hope, we will be disappointed. The God of the Bible does not promise these things this side of heaven. Instead, he invites us into his mission to bring healing and hope to a broken world. He offers us a chance to know him, and to get our hands dirty as we love God and neighbor.
But this desire for ease isn't just an American problem. In one of his parables, Jesus tells the story of a man who was attacked by robbers on the road to Jericho. The robbers not only took the man's clothes, but also beat him, leaving him for dead. In God's providence, several other men also traveled on the road that day. The first of these was a priest, a godly man who knew the law. He knew God's words and could have recited them from memory. At this moment, though, he conveniently forgot the Scripture's teachings to love his neighbor and take care of the vulnerable. Instead when he saw the bleeding man, he kept walking. A Levite also passed by, leaving him for dead.
Maybe these men were afraid for their own safety. Maybe they didn't want to dirty themselves according to Jewish customs, or maybe they were so set on their plans that they could not be interrupted. Either way, they continued on with their days as scheduled.
Finally, a Samaritan passed by. It would have been unthinkable that a Samaritan would help a Jew. Yet seeing the bloody man, the foreigner bandaged his wounds and brought him to safety. Not only did the Samaritan risk his life to do so, but he also provided for the man's financial needs. He left the injured man with an innkeeper, promising to pay for his expenses when he returned. Jesus concluded the story by asking, "Which one of these, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?...... Go and do likewise'" (Luke 10:25-37).
I've read this story a thousand times, but what stood out to me in this season is the fact that all three men in this story were going somewhere. They were all "busy men" who had plans for the day. And yet, only one allowed his plans to be interrupted by God. Only one engaged with the brokenness of another when given the chance. The others turned blind eyes, too afraid or busy to help.
On these verses Deitrich Bonhoeffer says, "We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps – reading the Bible...It is a strange fact that Christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them. They think they are doing God a service in this, but actually they are disdaining God's "crooked yet straight path." They do not want a life that is crossed and balked. But it is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God."
So, I've been asking myself this season, "Will I let God interrupt my days or will I turn a blind eye to those whom God would have me love?" Just as God was sovereign in the story of the Good Samaritan, God knows my story from the beginning. He knew that my family would pass eye infections to one another seven different times. He knew that it would tire me to wash 3 sets of sheets every day for a month. He crafted the days so that I would have to cancel play-dates and stay home for more days than I'd like. He knew it all from the beginning of time, and in his sovereignty, he allowed these little sicknesses to pass within our family time and time again.
And here, in life's little interruptions, God is refining me. He's showing me to trust him in the mundane, to bring order and healing within my own home- to my little neighbors. He's teaching me how to love little ones who can't yet take care of themselves. He's showing me what it means to be faithful in the day-to-day interruptions of life.
This year, I've been praying for God to grow my faith. I've wanted this to happen through big, miraculous moments, but what if God is growing my faith through the normal, day-to-day moments?
What I have viewed as interruptions of greater things, are actually his invitations to press in to him in faith. After all, though my plans may be interrupted, His plans never are.