I find it interesting that our country was literally built on interruptions and yet, we all hate them. Think about that for a minute. Our ancestor's religious freedom was jeopardized. They packed up in the midst of the interruption to their everyday life and came here. Worse still, imagine the giant interruption that the Europeans were to the Native Americans who were already here. And still, through all of the interruptions, our country was born and thrives today.
And I get it. I hate interruptions too. The baby poops in the middle of your class at the gym so you have to stop and change him even though the class goes on without you. You have fun plans to go to the zoo or the park in the morning but you just had your ten year old puke all night meaning no one can leave. You're actually going to be on time for once in your blessed life but there is an accident on the highway making you late. Again. You can't wait to drink your coffee this morning only to realize you're out of creamer or coffee or both.
I've dealt with all of it too. Trust me. We all have interruptions. I think my biggest interruption, no matter how many times I went through it or how much I wanted it to happen, was always pregnancy. I did it five times myself and once with our biological mom to our adopted daughter. Initially it's exciting. You get to see the two lines showing a positive test. You get to tell everyone about it and everyone is always excited because NEW LIFE.
But then you're exhausted all the time. By 7pm you are dead on the couch while your other cherubs are jumping all over daddy and letting out loud exclamations of starvation after not eating their dinner. And then someone says chicken nuggets or banana and you almost vomit all over them. Not to mention the headaches from caffeine withdrawal because now coffee smells like diarrhea every morning and you just can't even. If that's not bad enough, you are peeing every 6 minutes, you are thirsty all the time, you are simultaneously hungry and nauseated, you are short-tempered from exhaustion, and you can't even get into a comfortable position to sleep. Pregnancy is a serious interruption to life.
And this is a lovely time to transition into our Bible story for today. I'm sure you can guess by now which one it is. It's Mary, of course. Teenager. Jewish virgin. Follower of God. Future wife to Joseph. Perfect life laid out before her, right?. And then this:
"'Don’t be afraid, Mary,' the angel told her, 'for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.'" (Luke 1:30-31)
Okay seriously? We have to pause here for a minute because I have been a single pregnant teenager and while it wasn't immaculate conception in my case, it was still scary and lonely none the less. This girl is still a baby herself and now she is going to have one? Can you imagine what that was like? She can see all of her future crashing down around her. Surely Joseph won't want to marry the pregnant girl. Her parents will disown her, they'll be so ashamed. She'll be lucky to survive the nine months since she could very easily have been stoned to death at this time. And she's supposed to see this as finding favor with God? I'd struggle with seeing God's big plan here, I have to be honest. I would have cried and had to breath into a paper bag as I concerned the scary uncertainty of my new future. But not Mary:
"Mary responded, 'I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.' And then the angel left her." (Luke 1:38)
If this were a story about me it would say, "Kristi's eyes bugged out of her head as she peered over the top of her glasses and whispered in a scary tone, 'I know you aren't serious. You have a camera hiding somewhere, right? This is my future husband pranking me right? Because this isn't in the plan. This isn't where I saw my life going. Maybe you should choose little Suzy down the street. She'd be better for this one." And then the entire story would have to be changed and it would be much less inspiring to us later.
Because here's the thing. Mary, in all her young innocence, knew something even then that I forget too often at 35. None of what happens in life is a surprise to God. He knows it's coming. He makes it a part of his bigger plan. And this too: Jesus is there quietly waiting right in the middle of the interruptions of our life if we only stop long enough, forget ourselves long enough, to notice him.
I know in my head that this is true and sometimes I can even hear my heart whispering it. So why is it so very difficult for me to step off my path and acknowledge the interruptions? I almost never handle them well either even when I do acknowledge them.
Last night we were taking a walk in our neighborhood. I initially thought that it would just be Shaun and me. But Andrew wanted to come. Interruption. I think I actually took that one well. But it's different because he's my son and I love him. We had the opportunity to talk to our oldest child who will likely leave us soon since he is getting old. We heard about his teachers and his new van driver. We heard about his classes and his feelings about the new year so far.
But there was another interruption to that conversation. An interruption to our interruption. We walked past another family walking their dog on our same street. They stopped to introduce themselves as they knew we were new(ish) to the area. And I think maybe I dealt with that one well too because we learned their names, how long they've been here, how many kids they have, and where they go to church. Oddly, the same one we go to. Who knew? We got to know one of our neighbors right there in the street.
And then another interruption. Cars wanting to use the very road in which we were standing. We moved apart, allowed them to pass. But that made us an interruption too. An interruption to that person driving that car trying to get wherever they were going.
All of those interruptions last night led me to this point, to this story. How do we deal with the interruptions? How well are we embracing them? Can we see Jesus in the midst of them? What can I do differently to handle them better? Because they rarely go over as well as they did last night. At least, not for me they don't.
And I think the difference between yesterday and other days is margin. Time. I wasn't so overscheduled in my life that day that I didn't have time. I wasn't so uptight about getting the next thing done on my list that an interruption was unwelcome. When an interruption comes today, because let's face it, they are always all around us, how will I respond? Will I say no to Jesus interrupting me? Or will I say yes and embrace it with a good attitude?
I pray that I choose the good attitude and the yes, but I know that I won't always make that choice. And I pray for anyone else reading this today too. A thought as we go:
When interruptions to your plans come your way, will you be Mary and tell God that you want what he wants in your life?
Be blessed today and don't forget to be a blessing!