The Right to Interrupt
Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. (Matthew 25:21)
Do you want to experience God working mightily in and through you? Then adjust your life to God in the kind of relationship where you follow Him wherever He leads you- even if the assignment seems small or insignificant. Wouldn’t you love to hear: “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!(Matthew 25:21)
Do not misunderstand the point here. Don’t assume an assignment must be from God just because it is small or unexpected. Whether the assignment is large or small in your eyes, you still have to determine whether it is from God. God is the One who can tell you that. The important thing is not to rule out an assignment on the basis of your preconceived ideas. God may well give you an assignment that takes you outside your experience or comfort level. Remember- you will know what His will is through your relationship with God. Don’t bypass the relationship.
I have known people who wouldn’t interrupt a fishing trip or a football game for anything. They say they want to serve God, but they keep eliminating from their lives anything that might interfere with their own plans. They are so self-centered, they don’t recognize when God comes to them. There are Christians who spend great time and energy to make their lives as comfortable as possible. They immediately reject any initiative God brings into their lives that could create discomfort.
God has a right to interrupt your life. He is Lord. When you surrender to Him, you acknowledge His right to help Himself to your life at His prerogative. If you are God-centered, you will adjust your plans to what God wants to do.
Henry and Richard Blackaby
The Christmas story is about interrupted lives, lives that God transformed into His purpose. There can be no doubt that God interrupted Mary’s life. Prior to the visit by the angel, her future plan was to marry Joseph and together with him to raise a family in Nazareth living a normal Jewish life. Then an angel shows up with a message from God. Though the church has attempted to deify Mary, she was an ordinary young Jewish girl going about her life. What made God choose her? Was she extraordinary or super spiritual? I think not. I believe she was just someone with a living relationship with God. Someone who had placed themselves at God’s disposal and who said to God, “I belong to you, use me as you will.”
Let’s read a little of the conversation between the angelic messenger of God and the vessel God has chosen:
“Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly perplexed at what he said, and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and eminent and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin and have no intimacy with any man?” Then the angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a cloud]; for that reason the holy (pure, sinless) Child shall be called the Son of God. And listen, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” Then Mary said, “ Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.”
Let’s list the sentences of the conversation.
Angel: “Greetings favored one, God is with you.” This is relationship.
Mary: Greatly perplexed but kept carefully considering what he said. This is relationship’s response
Angel: “Do not be afraid for you have found favor with God.” This is reassurance.
Angel: “…you will give birth to a son and you shall name Him Jesus” This is instruction and the revealed will of God.
Mary: “How shall this be since I am a virgin?” This is the response of one whom God is taking outside their norm and comfort zone.
Angel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you..” In other words, God will do this, he just needs you to work through. He only needs you available, He will supply the ability.
Angel: “your cousin Elizabeth has also conceived a son….is now in her sixth month.” God always confirms His plan so we can rest on His promise.
Mary: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” The full final response of someone who is totally surrendered and committed to God.
Now Mary could have said that she was unwilling to conceive this child since she wasn’t married and she wasn’t willing to be ostracized by family and friends. She must have considered that she would also lose Joseph and would have had not God also interrupted his life. We must see that this great gift of salvation, though it is from God came through individuals who were willing to lay it all on the line with no conditions or negotiation, just simple obedience. When we portray Mary and Joseph, we show them hovering over the manger. We often forget their relationship had to go through a transformation and their relationship with God had to triumph over their relationship with each other. We forget that Mary had to ride the donkey to Bethlehem in her ninth month of pregnancy. We forget the anxiety and fear Joseph must have felt when he could find no place for Mary to give birth except a stable. We forget the journey to Egypt as fugitives when Herod decided to kill all the babies. At any point along the way either could have said to God, “I can’t , won’t do this. This is too hard. You’re asking too much. Let me go back to my normal life.” But they didn’t and I’m so glad that they were willing to make the change, go far outside their comfort zone so that we might have the benefits of the Savior. What great trust in humanity God displayed when he placed His Son as a tiny baby in Mary’s womb. What trust God placed in Joseph to be the protector, provider, mentor for this child. If you wonder why God could do so it’s because of the relationship. God found two friends that gave Him the right to interrupt their lives so that His plan could be carried out.
We could tell of other interrupted lives in the Christmas story. We could speak of the shepherds whose lives were interrupted by the angels and how they left the flock to go and see the baby. They did so at the risk of losing it or having it destroyed by predators. We could tell of the Magi who chose to travel two years of so to visit the Christ-child and to bring Him their gifts. We fail to take notice of the hardships and challenges of the journey, not knowing where they were going, only following a star.
May I conclude by saying that God is still looking for those who will give Him a blank check of their lives. He is looking for those who will echo Mary’s words, “…may it be done unto me according to your words.”
I urge us in these days that we come before the Lord in complete humility and repentance and declare to Him that He may interrupt our lives, change our plans and work in us and through us according to His will. I must confess it grieves me when I hear Christians who say that things must go their way or they won’t be involved. I recognize that this past year has been different and challenging and often fearful. I know that we are no where near our old norms and practices. So I plead with us as the people of God that we pursue a deeper personal relationship with God, a relationship that keeps us open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I ask us to investigate our hearts to see if they are centered on self and selfish desires or if they are God-centered and willing to give up their ways for the growth and expansion of God’s kingdom.
Throughout Scriptures, over and over, we see that it has been through God-interrupted lives, great things have come to pass. Perhaps the interruption of the pandemic is designed to have us see more of God’s desires and to reveal to us that He has other plans for us beyond what we have experienced or found in our comfort zone. May I say from personal experience that there is incredible joy living a life surrendered to God. O yes it’s cliff-hangers and uncharted waters and often far outside comfort zones. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, with no ability to understand or explain what God is doing and why He is doing what He is doing. Many times the only thing you know is that God is with you and to the best of your ability you’re following Him. Like the Magi, you can only see the star. You don’t always know where you are or where you are going but you know as long as you keep the star in view, you will arrive at your destination. I do not know what will be the outcome of the pandemic-changed world. I do know it will be different. I know that our lives have been interrupted. Because of that, I also know that those who respond to God the way that Mary and Joseph responded will see and experience the presence and work of God in unimaginable ways. Those who choose to keep attempting to force everything to comply with their selfish heart will find themselves in opposition to God’s plan in the same manner as Herod found himself and foolishly will attempt to make it go away.
Dr. John Thompson