When Life Gets Interrupted

Originally published Wednesday, 17 September 2014.

"Mom, are you okay? You seem grumpy," my son said. "Maybe you're tired," he surmised.

We had gone out of town for the weekend. After landing at the airport, picking up our luggage, and arriving back to our car in the parking garage, we found that the car had a flat tire. We were supposed to go straight from the airport to a friend's house for a barbeque.

To be honest, I did not handle this interruption to my life very well. I responded to my children's normal childish playfulness while they stood around and waited for the repair person to arrive with a raised voice and an angry tone. My kids noticed and their feelings were hurt.

I wanted to justify my actions to them. I wanted to gloss over my sinful behavior and call something that was wrong, good. What I really wanted to say in response to my son's comment was, "You try traveling with kids on your own. Then you'd know how tired I am and how having a flat tire is the last thing I want to deal with."

The Interruptions of Life

My life is filled with interruptions, inconveniences, and unexpected events. Things break. Accidents happen. The phone rings just as I climb into bed. Unexpected illnesses change my well laid plans. My kids are full of energy when I just need them to walk quietly through the grocery store for two little things. Traffic makes me late. Just when we don't need another added expense (and in the heat of the summer!), we learn we have to replace the air conditioner.

I could go on. And on. You probably could too.

The problem is, I usually handle these interruptions to my life poorly. I react with frustration and anger. Like a young child, I want to stomp my feet and say, "It's not fair!" I blame others. I'll even have a pity party or two.

But it's these interruptions and I how I work through them that God uses in his work to change me to be more like Christ. I won't often have huge life changing circumstances in my life that causes me to trust God and obey him in some deeply profound way. I won't be called to build an ark or to take an only son up Mt. Moriah for a sacrifice. Rather, it's these small inconveniences and interruptions, the little things in my life where I am given opportunities to rely on God, to obey him, and bring him glory.

Paul Tripp puts it like this:

"You and I don't live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don't careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn't set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life. It's the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what's really going on in our hearts" (in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy

Interruptions of Grace

These ten thousand little moments come in the form of my children asking me to play a game with them when I'm deep in concentration, trying to finish a project. They are moments like when I get stuck behind a school bus and we're already late to an appointment or when I'm in the middle of cooking dinner and my kids get into a squabble. They are in all those moments all throughout the day when things don't go my way and my plans fall through and when I am so tired I have nothing left to give.

It's these moments where the rubber meets the road, where my faith is stretched and I look down to see whether I am standing on rock or sand. Do I really believe that God is in control of all the details of my life? Do I really believe that his grace is sufficient to get me through the day? Do I really believe that the gospel of Christ is powerful enough to not only save me for eternity but also to transform me even in the midst of life's interruptions? Do I really believe that Christ is enough to satisfy the desires of my heart?

The interruptions of life force me to work through these questions. They force me to face my sin. They make me take an honest look at God's grace and reveal to me that I have much to learn and far to go. The interruptions are an act of grace. They are God's way of taking off my blinders and making me see that I need the gospel of grace in every moment of my day. They are a light that shines on the dark corners of my heart, revealing the truth of what's really there--the sins and idols that I've pushed off into the corner, thinking that if I don't see them, they must not exist. These interruptions remind me that I don't have life figured out and that I can't do it on my own. And they are like the Shepherd's rod, pulling me back from my wandering ways and back to my Great Shepherd.

In truth, I need these interruptions for they push me to the cross of Christ.

And that day at the airport? It wasn't as bad as I made it out to be. The repair guy came quickly and within moments had my flat tire off and a temporary tire in its place. We even made it to our friend's house for dinner. But most importantly, God was gracious enough to point out my sinful heart and remind me of my need for forgiveness of sins and the gospel of grace.

Is your life filled with interruptions too? Do you see God's hand at work in them?