Jonah 1:1-3 (NIV) - "The word of the Lord came to Jonah...'Go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it...' But Jonah ran away from the Lord..."
My worship pastor Scott Riggan inspired me a few weeks ago with his communion meditation. He shared about his children and how they are are not allowed to interrupt when he is talking with someone. When they do need to talk to him they are suppose to politely approach him, touch his arm or shoulder and wait until they are addressed.
Having kids of my own, I readily identified with Scott. These are the same principles my husband and I strive to implement in our own children's lives. There have been times when our boys have burst forth with their news or plea only to interrupt another person. I confess, there have also been instances when I have told my children, "Just a minute, I'll talk to you when I finish" only to realize later I completely forgot to address them.
Scott went on to share that many times we treat God this way. God may be touching our arm or shoulder, waiting for our response, only to be ignored or forgotten by us. Maybe He wants to teach us a truth, shed light on a circumstance or invite us to join Him in something new. But because our lives are so full of talking, rushing and planning we neglect to pause and listen to God's voice in our life. We live as though God cannot interrupt our life.
Truth is, God doesn't need our permission to interrupt our life, to steer us in a new direction, to awaken our soul to the truth of His Word or to confront sin in our life. Our response to Him should be to listen and accept His intervention. Sadly, many put Him off by keeping Him at arms length not allowing room for Him to speak.
This reminds me of Jonah. He too, didn't want his life interrupted by God. When God told him to go to the city of Nineveh to preach repentance, he ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. Jonah was more interested in his own comfort and way of life than he was for the 120,000 souls of Nineveh. He felt justified in running away, but God wanted him to preach against the wickedness of the city there.
After being swallowed by a fish, living three days in its belly and then being spat out on the ground, Jonah finally obeyed God. Jonah then preached to the Ninevites, they believed God and turned from their wicked ways. As a result, God relented from sending the destruction He had threatened.
Jonah had a hard time allowing God to interrupt his life. He hesitated to follow God where He was leading him. He didn't want to go to Nineveh. His heart did not have compassion for the lost. God reminded Jonah (4:10-11) it is more important to care for people who don't know Him than to care for our own agenda and the things of our life that quickly pass away.
After seven years of ministry in Boise, God totally interrupted my life. Over a month ago God made it evident that He wants our family to move seven hours north to serve Him in a new church and community. The day after the invitation came to my husband I was studying Phil. 3:8. Paul says, "I consider all things loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things that I may gain Christ." Several questions emerged as I began to consider this possible move.
When this occurred the Lord challenged me with some things I needed to lose in my life in order to know Him more. He nudged my heart, Hester, do you really consider ALL things loss in order to know Me more? What about . . . . ? I knew what He was referring to. Things of comfort and familiarity. Things that I have held tightly to in the last few years.
Through tears I replied, "Lord I don't want anything to be in the way of knowing you and gaining more of You in my life. Please help me accept Your gentle guidance so I can move forward in faith." Growing pains like these may hurt our heart, but are necessary in order to experience deeper intimacy with Christ. The process of letting go of our way of life and comfort will cause the growth the Lord desires in our lives. Surrender to His will will enable us to know Him more.
Among the things of comfort and familiarity God was referring to were: my brother's family, our boys' school, the ministry to women at our church, the deep and meaningful relationships we have with friends and neighbors, our house, yard and garden. I love all of these things. They are not bad things unless I allow them to get in the way of God's plan. If this happens then they become stumbling blocks to obedience. I must be willing to let them go for the sake of following Christ.
So, here I am: my soul laid bare, my emotions tender, my house on the market, yet God's peace in my heart as I obey His will. I am excited for His future work and yet grieve over leaving those I love.
Where are you? Where does God need you to be? What is He asking of you? God's interruption may not be a move, but it could be something different. Maybe he's been tapping your shoulder to confront you about your anger. Maybe He's been waiting for you to respond to His nudges of being more generous to others. Perhaps you are running away from serving Him in a new avenue. Maybe, just maybe, He stands at your side while you rush about life, just waiting for you to answer Him, "Yes God, what can I do for You?"
Dare to let God interrupt your life.
*Due to God's "interruption" and my family's impending move, I will be taking the month of August off from writing weekly devotions. You will, however, be blessed by four guest bloggers to fill in for me each Friday. Thank you for your prayers for my family as we transition to our new ministry in Washington.
What prevents you from letting God interrupt your life? What space can you create this week to readily hear Him?
Confess to Him if you have been putting Him off and humbly ask Him to help you listen with open ears.
Whether big or small decisions, how may God be trying to interrupt your life? Are you giving Him the cold shoulder or listening intently to His instruction?
Why does God have every right to interrupt us? Why is it important for us to respond in obedience?
Heart Changing Word:
Esther 4:14 (NIV) - "...And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
Matthew 4:19-20 - "'Come follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him."
Acts 9:4-6 - "...'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked. 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. 'Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'"
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.