I spent the first half of this week annoyed and overwhelmed by them. I’ve been wondering how God expects me to fulfill His callings on my life when life is so full of interruptions. Actually, I’ve been wrestling with that issue for a lot longer than a few days.
How am I supposed to follow the dreams God has given me, such as writing a book, for one, when the daily stuff of life (children, piano lessons, worship team, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, interacting with the people I love) consumes all but a few measly little hours each week?
Did I misunderstand? Should I forget all about it? Am I being too nice — not telling my family and friends “no” enough? I do, by God’s grace, possess just enough sense to realize that the idea of writing a book in the name of “ministering to others” is pretty silly if I have neglected my family and missed out on countless opportunities to bless others. So what am I supposed to do?
On Wednesday, when the entire day was an interruption from my plan, (the day that I helped the kids create costumes for HCA spirit week, mailed citizenship applications for our three adopted kids, shopped for a ridiculous amount of groceries, called in the refrigerator repairman, put the groceries away, gave a piano lesson, picked up 3 kids from school, made dinner, bought a sympathy card, picked Jaden up from school — late, served dinner, went to a funeral, took the kids to Awana, played piano for choir practice and worship team, and put the kids to bed), I decided to listen to a podcast interview of Susie Larson, while tackling the sea of clean laundry that had apparently filed for citizenship on our queen-sized guest bed.
(Please forgive me for that horrifically long sentence.)
During that final “interruption,” God enabled me to sort through a lot more than just laundry.
Susie (whom I had not heard of until that day) talked about her new book; Your Beautiful Purpose: Discovering and Enjoying What God Can Do Through You.
One of her first anecdotes:
She had long toyed with the idea of writing a book. She asked the Lord again and again if it was really His idea, or just her own. He patiently, repeatedly showed her that it was indeed His calling. She asked again. And He answered again. (This I can identify with!)
Finally, she resolved to begin. She sent her kids off to school, and sat down at her computer. (I get this too. It’s not as simple as it sounds.) The only problem was that she drew a total blank.
As she stared at her computer screen, God impressed on her heart that she was to get up, cross the street and check on her neighbor. Confused, she reminded God that He had just led her to sit down to begin her book, which was not going well so far. And yet the conviction grew. She got up, crossed the street, and found her neighbor in tears, desperately in need of encouragement and prayer.
Once back at home, the words flowed.
“Interruptions” are divinely orchestrated. They are not for nothing.
Folding laundry is one of the most annoying interruptions of my life. How ironic and appropriate that God would speak so clearly to me then and there.
I had to buy a copy of Susie’s ebook. Here are some quotes from her first chapter:
“You and I have a calling on our lives. Scripture is clear. May God give you a strong sense of your kingdom-call so you can begin making life choices that line up with your divine and appointed purpose and direction.
There’s another aspect to our calling. And this part of the call is just as important, if not more so than the dream or vision we have for our lives. If we get so focused on our kingdom-call that we miss the daily call, we will be susceptible to selfish ambition, self-centeredness, and a self-important view of our role in God’s kingdom work…
Our lives are meant to intermingle with each other while tending to the tasks God gives us. Our kingdom-call matters, but we’ll lose our way if we miss the other part of our call…
… If we tend to the daily call, if Jesus has our full attention from day to day, moment to moment, He’ll get us where we need to go so that we can live out the big-picture, divinely appointed call written over our lives.
Oftentimes, those up-close acts of obedience seem completely unrelated to the overall direction of our kingdom-call. In fact, sometimes those little pit stops will seem to take us completely off track from our call. But Jesus knows what He’s doing.”
Susie explained on the podcast that there are various stages in following God’s purposes for us.
First, we are eager — begging God to let us follow His leading, feeling ready to tackle all the challenges ahead of us in this grand new adventure. Yet, it’s when we are feeling so ready that God actually holds us back. He wants us to wait for His timing and in the meanwhile, to learn some very important lessons.
About the time that God deems us ready, we suddenly see things realistically. An up-close view of the mountain that looked so glorious from a distance is rather overwhelming! Even so, it’s time to do this thing: face the challenges, do the spiritual battle.
Once we’re in the thick of things, we have to learn to stay the course. Jumping into God’s beautiful purposes for us is one thing, staying in an arena where we are constantly stretched and challenged is another. We are called to “last long, finish strong.”
(I’ll probably write more about those stages after I dive deeper into the book.)
The truth is, this is all very simple. I knew this stuff already, deep down, but as I heard Dennis Rainey say on Family Life Today, “We all suffer from spiritual amnesia.” I’m grateful to be reminded.
Of course obeying God in the moment-to-moment is going to lead us to His ultimate, beautiful purposes for me.
Of course I can trust that if He’s called me to do something, He’ll bring it about in His perfect time.
Of course I cannot leave my family, the laundry pile, and other daily ministries, become a hermit, write a fabulous book and say it was “God’s calling on my life!”
Here’s praying for the grace to live by these truths… to trust that God is in charge of every single interruption… to trust that He knows — far better than I — how to accomplish the purposes for which I’ve been created, whatever they may be.
And now my kids are home from school to interrupt me. Bye.
A link to Susie Larson’s book:
Your Beautiful Purpose