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Life Interrupted

Weird night at life group. Prayers going up for travel mercies for one of our number attending funeral in Atlanta, for another traveling to California to be with mom with stage 4 colon cancer, for one of our guys in pain who is awaiting knee replacement surgery and for a new couple in need of jobs.

And then. . .well, then something happened I didn’t expect. One person shouted out a praise for having gotten cancer. She’s just coming off chemo. But she talked of how cancer for her was a blessing, that it forced her to focus, get her priorities in line with God’s, and that she’s seeing God at work in new, more vivid ways. Ok, after that, it was hard to ask for prayer for my hangnail.

But this dealing with seeing God at work in the interruptions of life popped up in our scripture for the night–Acts 16. Paul and Barnabas determine to visit all the churches they started on their first journey. They can’t even get packed before they split up over who would come with them. Rats. Interrupted.

We’re sure Barnabas is doing great work, too, but the Holy Spirit zeroes in here on Paul. As he’s about the work, we’re told that he is forbidden by the Holy Spirit from going to Asia (verse 6). Rats. Interrupted.

Then Paul intends to go to Bithynia, but, again, the Holy Spirit did not permit it. Rats. Interrupted.

We don’t know why or how the Holy Spirit communicated this. Did Paul fall ill? Could they not get correct change for the subway? Easy at this point for Paul to go “God, what’s the deal? You are standing in the way of my well-conceived travel plans.” Sounds like he didn’t do that, since he then gets a vision to go to Macedonia and obeys.

Paul eventually ends up in Philippi, where there is this hilarious story. On the Sabbath, Paul and his troupe decide to go down to the river for a little peace and quiet, “supposing there would be a place of prayer” there. They supposed wrong. Instead, there were a bunch of women yacking it up. Rats. Interrupted.

Instead of rolling their eyes, they sit down and start talking to the women. One, Lydia, overhears, gets saved, and then her whole household gets saved. And the gospel is off and running in Europe! Who’d have thunk it?

So, here’s one for ya. Are you actually about the business of God’s work and purposes? Do you have a plan to be a minister of the gospel and are you pursuing it? As you pursue it, are you open to the Holy Spirit altering those plans without become bitter and thereby missing God’s purposes? Yeah, some exciting things can happen. You get a promotion, you get engaged, you get some blessing. But God often directs through inconveniences. The loss of a job, a broken down car, a serious illness, a betrayal, or some other huge disappointment. Do you stop in those times to listen, to see what God might be up to?

He’s probably leading you to your Lydia.

But we’ll miss that if we’re bummed that He interrupted our plans. But isn’t that where we spend too much of our time? I mean, seriously, when’s the last time you shared your faith outside the church walls? Is it really that there’s just a lack of lost people out there, or are you just not listening?

Ok, I’m done. You can go back to what you were doing now. Sorry for the interruption.

Dwaine Darrah
McLean Campus Pastor

 

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