When God Interrupts
by Robby Higginbottom
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.
No one likes interruptions, right? The knock on the door when we’re deep in thought. The urgent call when a deadline is looming. The crisis that breaks when we’re already sinking. We see interruptions as an inconvenience—at best. But what if we’re blind? What if we haven’t taken time to cultivate a robust theology of interruption? Because when the Lord is at work, it is always an interruption. When God interrupts…
• He creates the heavens and the earth and humanity (Genesis 1).
• He pursues Adam and Eve and asks, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9).
• He promises to crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).
• He sacrifices an animal to provide Adam and Eve with clothing (Genesis 3:21).
• He confronts Cain after murdering Abel (Genesis 4).
• He judges the world and saves Noah through the ark and the flood (Genesis 6-8).
• He calls an old, infertile man to be the beginning of a nation (Genesis 12:1-3).
• He counts Abram as righteous for his faith (Genesis 15:6).
• He stops him from sacrificing Isaac and provides a ram (Genesis 22).
• He wrestles with Jacob and changes his name to Israel (Genesis 32).
• He raises Joseph from slavery to prominence in Egypt (Genesis 37-50).
And these are just a few examples from the first book of the Bible. We see interruptions; God sees the unfolding of His perfect, sovereign plans. Where would we be without these holy interruptions? In Ephesians 2, Paul tells us. We would still be dead in our sin, following the devil, living in the passions of our flesh, by nature children of wrath. Are we still sure that we don’t like interruptions? The gospel is the earthshaking message that God interrupts and changes everything for people who are without hope and without Him (Ephesians 2:13). But God, these are the words that signal holy interruption. The world is falling apart, but God. People are perishing, but God. We were dead, “but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us…made us alive together with Christ”.
For many people the Coronavirus pandemic is the greatest interruption of our lives. The question is: How will God’s people view it? What if we remember that when God interrupts, He often does His most amazing work? What if we see this season as more than an inconvenience? What if we see it as a holy invitation to see what God is doing, to be shaped by His Spirit, and to serve those in need? This is a really challenging season, but God…
Henri Nouwen, who left the glory of Ivy League academia to work among profoundly disabled people, asked, “What if our interruptions are in fact opportunities?” If we get beyond the inconveniences, what opportunities might we see to extend the love of Christ? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who returned to Nazi Germany to suffer with the persecuted church, wrote, “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” If we get beyond the noise and frustration, what word might the Lord speak to us?
We don’t like the knock on the door, but what if the Lord is the one knocking (Revelation 3:20)? We don’t like the urgent call, but what if the Lord is the one calling us to see, to stop, and to show mercy to those in need (Luke 10:25-37)? We don’t like the crisis, but what if this is a decisive moment for us as the family of God?
Lord, help us to receive this profound interruption as an invitation from Your sovereign, loving hands. We long to draw near, to see what You are doing, and to join You in Your work. May this moment not be wasted in our lives and in Your church. As you interrupt, accomplish Your redemptive purposes. By Your almighty power, stop the spread of this virus. And by Your amazing grace, spread the knowledge of Your glory around the world.