Debbie Salter Goodwin
Interruption or . . .
An act that interferes with one’s plans, responsibilities, routine or expectations in a frustrating or debilitating way.
Interruptions are small to catastrophic erruptions in a well-planned day. Something or someone changes your direction, your focus, or your whole life. Most of the time we hate them. Sometimes, an interruption is a life-saver.
Today I'm thinking about interruptions. Not the pesky interruptions like an unplanned grocery run to fetch something for dinner or even a failed dryer that turns my small laundry room to drying quarters. I’m thinking about the interruptions from the long and winding road we’ve been on with our daughter, Lisa, and all her physical challenges. My husband and I just spent a week as her tag team in the hospital so that she was never without an advocate or information gatherer. New and serious heart issues interrupted our week at the beach. We packed up like maniacs and headed for Portland as soon as we could.
It wasn’t the first time we faced such an interruption. There was the Christmas we spent in the hospital hovering been tentative and critical. Or the cruise we canceled because her issues were just too unpredictable to allow us to leave the country.
When someone we love is hurting, ill, or in a serious predicament they cannot manage alone, we think more about how to help than what we lose in the exchange. That’s why when Lisa’s so precarious physical balance tipped on its fulcrum again, we didn’t think twice about dropping our plans to meet her needs. When she was admitted to the hospital in congestive heart failure, I never complained about my sleepless nights in a pillow-padded chair next to her bed. Love called; I answered. Who calls that an interruption?
It made me think of God and his parental reach to help so many of his children in compromised situations. How many times does He nudge someone or maybe many someones to interrupt their day and help. Do we measure those interruptions by what we lose or by what God asks? I’ve been thinking about it.
I’m not talking about personally motivated urges that meet my need to make a difference. Those self-motivated missions of mercy may fit a personality leaning or may try to make up for some unmet need. As long as the interruption is an inconvenience only to myself, there’s no problem. However, if I allow someone else’s needs to override the needs God has already called me to, there is a problem.
When I am willing to change my carefully made plans because of God’s call to love or rescue or just stay with someone whose life sits on the brink of eternity, teetering to go one way or another, I want to drop everything, just like I did for Lisa, and be there. My heart tells me you do to. So how do we know it is God’s call?
My track record isn’t perfect here. But here are some ways I evaluate whether I’m listening to some empathetic urge from myself or receiving a call from God:
Who loses if I drop everything and go? Who loses if I don’t?
How would I rate my ability to recognize God’s nudge in the small things so I can recognize His call in the big things?
Does meeting this need override another priority God has not released me from?
Can someone else do this better or more quickly?
Who is my accountability counsel if I am not sure if God has called me for this mission?
I look to Jesus as my model. He always had time for people who interrupted what he was doing. Nicodemus interrupted a quiet night. The woman with a bleeding issue interrupted his journey toward a resurrection. Ten lepers interrupted his walk to Jerusalem. We don’t think of them as interruptions. As we read the Gospels, they sound more like Someone planned it. Jesus was always at the right place at the right time, listening. Always listening.
How many times does God send His call and we are too busy to be interrupted? May God forgive me for the times I didn't hear him. I want to be as eager to answer His call as I was on February 25 when I dropped everything to be where Lisa needed me.
How many more would be in God's family count if we moved as quickly for His children at risk as we do for our own?
Lisa Update: Life is still a little interrupted for all of us as Lisa recovers and spends nights at our house and days in her apartment. As usual her recovery won’t be quick or uncomplicated. We appreciate your prayers.