Last week I wrote about the warning signs. How ironic as I was considering all the warnings that had occurred for my neighbor, I get one as well. This warning wasn’t in the form she received but from a warning in my own house. My carbon monoxide detector went off in the middle of my dinner one night. I first thought it was a low battery warning. I got the detector in hand, about to remove the battery when I read the fine print of warning messages. The fine print said that four beeps is a real alarm. I began to pay attention to the details. How many beeps am I really hearing? Now, I am truly alarmed! With a quick call to 911, I found myself in the middle of my front yard wondering what happened to my quiet night at home eating my evening meal. It was an unexpected interruption. I kept reminding myself that none of this is a surprise to God. I was interrupted by a warning that I could not control, but God could help me in this time of trouble.
When the firemen had accessed the situation, I found myself homeless for the night. I found the uncertainty of my immediate future but temporary homelessness. This is not to compare to my neighbor’s unexpected homelessness. I slept very little that night running scenarios of “what’s next?” in my head all night. The heating unit was replaced, but the future of “what’s next?” is still uncertain. I have deemed this year the year of change. (Of course, aren’t they all?) But this year will be different. I can’t keep going along the way I have been going. Circumstances will need to change. Sometimes I will have to make the effort to change them. I need to find a job. I need to find the place to do ministry. I need to find the opportunities that God has placed in front of me that I am just not seeing right now!
God brought the unexpected into my life that particular moment. I didn’t see it really coming. I knew the heating unit was very old, and I knew it would need replacing soon. I was hoping for a few more months use. So it was unexpected at this time, but not totally out of the realm of possibilities. I knew as soon as the alarm sounded I had run out of time. I don’t know the future. I just know the one who does hold the future in His hands. God isn’t surprised of our circumstances. I just have to remember when the unexpected happens, God has the expected outcome in hand. He knows what He wants accomplished in our unexpected interruptions.
God was in the details of the right time for the alarm to sound. I wasn’t in a deep sleep. I wasn’t alone in my neighborhood during the day. It was in the early evening when people were coming home from work. One of my neighbors “happened” upon the situation at the time I was contemplating where I needed to go for the night. It was kind of them to offer their extra bed. My friend had already priced a replacement unit for me. I already knew what needed to happen. It was the timing of it all that reminds me that God knows when to give us warnings and knows when the warning needs to be heeded. We have to pay attention to the details. There is a lesson in the unexpected. We just need the wisdom to understand what God is doing in the details of the unexpected.
Interruptions put us in a place of readiness to hear – looking to Him for guidance; realizing we can’t handle things on our own; accepting our own limitations in the middle of the crisis and realizing our God is in control of all circumstances. We can lean on Him when our strength fails us; when our world is turned upside down. When the unexpected comes, it’s time to pay close attention to the details. God has something in mind, but the circumstances might throw us into a temporary tailspin. But it shouldn’t send us into the mindset of great fear. It’s time to focus on our God who has the world in the palm of His hands. Nothing throws God into a tailspin – He’s got this.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4