A front page article ran in the New York Times March 2007 dealing with interruptions and multi-tasking. The article pulled together the results of several studies looking at how interruptions and attempts to multi-task can affect the quality of work as well as the length of recovery time.
It has become new news to some and obvious to others that our lives are riddled with interruptions. With the advent of emailing, texting, tweeting and smart-cell-phoning, a lot of valuable, quality work time is being diminished. Often, because of distractions and disruptions, some activities and routines seldom get back to normal.
But not all interruptions are bad.
In the Bible, Moses was farming routinely when God interrupted him and challenged him to take on a new profession. Isaiah the prophet was busy worshipping when God interrupted his ritual worship to make that experience a practical one.
In the Christmas story, Joseph’s life was interrupted as He had to take time off from His job, leave Galilee, and go to register in Bethlehem. Mary’s life was interrupted by the Holy Ghost with and unexpected, unplanned pregnancy. When the baby was born, the shepherds who would be the first witnesses of Jesus’ birth had their lives interrupted.
They were working, watching and perhaps weeping over the state of affairs. Just from the inference of the angelic messenger, they were void of hearing good news, void of joy and had been marginalized. And they certainly did not have a savior or relief in their short- or long-range goals.
Given the weight of it all, the amazing element in this story is that everyone in the Christmas story accepted the interruptions with a sense of resolved surrender – a surrender that put them in a place where God could accomplish far more through them than their uninterrupted lives ever would have dreamed of.
Though awkward and challenging, God’s unexpected change in their plans gave them the honor of witnessing the birth of His very Son. And our world has never been the same again—to say nothing of our lives!
There’s a lesson here for us. When God interrupts our best-laid plans and expectations—even when it seems like the outcomes are devastating—He has a far greater thing in mind for us.
God’s worthiness and glory are far more evident when they are expressed in the midst of suffering. There is no greater confirmation of the trustworthiness of God than when we trust Him even in the face of the unexpected insecurities and uncertainties of life.
And who knows what He has in store through you in terms of impact in future generations when He rearranges your life?
I can’t always tell you what God is up to but I can assure you that He uses interruptions to do things far beyond what we ever dreamed.
So, this Christmas, let’s get the point. When interruptions come, stop resisting. Surrender and start looking for the hand of God as you serve Him obediently in spite of the uncertainty that is staring you in the face. His plans are better than yours. His ways are better than yours. His choices are better than yours. His agenda is better than yours.
What would have happened if Noah had said, “I don’t do boats!” or if Job had insisted, “I don’t do suffering!” or if Mary had declined, “No thanks, a virgin birth is too great a risk!” or, ultimately, if Jesus had said, “I don’t do crosses!”?
Let Christmas be that time when God interrupts you long enough to let you know that this time is about Him and that, if you honor Him, He will be a blessing to you.
*Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com