Were you interrupted today? Have you been inconvenienced recently? Did something happen to upset your carefully made plans? Does it seem like something always comes up to prevent you from accomplishing your plans, even plans that you made to serve and honor God? Have you stopped to consider that perhaps those interruptions and inconveniences are God’s way of leading you to fulfill your part in his plan?
My friend Chris recently posted a quote from C. S. Lewis to his Facebook profile that touches on this very topic. The quote is “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day.” This got me thinking about the many times throughout my life that I’ve been interrupted or inconvenienced in some way. Most of the time my attitude in those situations is not one of thankfulness to God, but rather one of frustration. Then I started thinking about the many plans that I had made for my life and where I am in life. Here I am, almost 30, unmarried, volunteering with the youth group and AV tech at church, working 8-5, Monday through Friday designing stuff for NASA, Lockheed Martin, and the Air Force; not exactly how I had expected my life to turn out up to this point. Yet as I think back on my life, I can see God guiding me and preparing me to use me in his plan. Even with so much evidence of God using the interruptions to accomplish his purposes, I still get frustrated when I’m unable to do what I’ve planned for God because of some interruption.
With all of that running through my mind, I read Matthew 1-2 the last couple of evenings to get ready for Christmas. One of the things that stood out to me as I read Matthews account of Jesus’ birth, the Christmas story, was that it was very inconvenient for the people involved. Yet that very inconvenience was how God was accomplishing his plan that he had foretold through his prophets. For instance Joseph was living his life, serving God and about to marry Mary, when all of a sudden his plans are interrupted because God chose Mary to bear his son, Jesus. Or the wise men, searching the heavens and seeing the sign, a star, then packing up and making the journey to Judea and being told to return a different way. And Herod, all of a sudden aware of someone who might try to claim his rule, and then his plans to take care of that child thwarted by the wise men not telling him where the child lived. Then Joseph and Mary again inconvenienced when they had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod. Yet each one of those “inconveniences” or interruptions was the means by which God fulfilled his plan, and Matthew is careful to point that out.
So, as you think about the Christmas story and Jesus’ birth, remember that God uses the inconveniences and interruptions in our lives to accomplish his purposes. And as you live your life and the interruptions and unfulfilled plans come about, remind yourself that God is still working, and most likely is using those events to accomplish his plans. When you choose to follow Christ as Lord, you are choosing to become his servant, and a servant does not have the privilege of implementing his own plans but rather the plans of his master. This is what it means to die to self, giving up our plans in order to accomplish God’s plans, no matter how inconvenient they may be for us.