building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Life Interruptions”

Curve Balls

You just can’t tell when life will throw you a curve ball. Swoosh! Car accident. Swoosh! Fall off a ladder and break a leg. Swoosh! Someone you know dies suddenly. Those balls can come fast and furious. In every event, a new normal takes shape. Life continues on; we move on, sometimes slowly; but we go on. Things will never be the same again. However, nothing is a surprise to God. He saw it coming. In His Sovereignty, He allowed it to happen. He could have stopped it from happening. But for some reason, that “thing” happened. But God always has the last word on it.

I started this blog posting about three weeks ago. However, there was another word that was pressed upon me at the time. I woke up this morning with these words circling in my heart. You just never know when life will throw you a curve ball. What a difference a year can make or even a month or even more a day. The future is uncertain right now for me and my family. There is a season for everything, and the season is about to change. It’s a matter of when not if. A new normal is about to take shape.

Three weeks ago, my family celebrated my Dad’s 90th birthday. Today, he lies in a hospital bed. We don’t know the time when God will call any of us home. We just never know when things will happen that will change our future. Sometimes we ask why and we only get silence. We want life to be fair, but it’s anything but fair. We want justice, but there is no justice to be found. How can we live with this uncertainty with a peace beyond our understanding? Because of Jesus. When Jesus is in the picture, there is peace.

Peace beyond understanding. God is still Sovereign and on His throne. He is still glorious. His ways are still higher than ours. His thoughts still transcend ours. God still triumphs over evil – even when it looks like evil is winning. Whatever Satan has planned, God has a counter move. What Satan has planned for evil, God will make good out of it. It’s just the way God works. Satan can throw whatever he has at us, but when we have the peace of God, nothing will move us away from Him.

Satan will attempt many things to throw us off-balance. The curve balls can be his attempt to move us away from God. When we walk with Jesus, we are Satan’s target. Those curve balls will try to separate us from the only one who can keep us in the game. I heard a statement Tuesday night attributed to a singer who was questioned about Jesus being a “crutch” for all us Christians. The singer replied Jesus isn’t a crutch to him; Jesus is his stretcher. Jesus carries us. Sure we lean on Him, but it’s so much better when Jesus just picks us up and carries us through.

Levi Lesko wrote a powerful book written from a place of brokenness after he lost one of his daughters several years ago during the Christmas season. Right after they said goodbye to their precious one, Levi’s wife asked him to hand the hospital staff an invitation to the Christmas Eve service. In the midst of his pain, he handed the staff an invitation to make good out of a bad situation. Because of that invitation at a time when these parents could have walked away in their grief, they reached out and two of the staff came to know Jesus. Levi didn’t just lean on Jesus during that time. He couldn’t have delivered a message that would change people’s lives unless he was carried through it.

We never know how God will use the time of our greatest pain, but He will. We have to be open in those moments for God’s glory to come through. We have to be able to see the curve balls for what they are in this moment in time – God’s grace and mercy for such a time as this. There are hurting people all around us. Let us give them the gift of hope and let them be carried to the throne room of grace. Good can come out of a bad situation. Let God have the last word on it. And hit the curve balls out of the park, the game is already won but we can add to the number!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)


The Unexpected

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

Going, Going, Gone!

Last week, I found out my next door neighbor is moving. I told them I was sorry to see them go – and I meant it. They were nice neighbors. English is not their first language so there was always a barrier to communication. But we spoke the occasional “hi” from the yard. They have lived beside me for at least five years. But the thing I got a little bit excited about was that when they moved, they would be taking their dog with them! Disclaimer – I am not a pet person; I never grew up with pets, and I just don’t have a love for them. This dog has been my nemesis. Whenever I am outside the dog barks continuously until I go back in the house. Front yard or back. If the dog sees me in my living room, it will bark. I haven’t been able to enjoy any time in my yard since the dog has lived with them.

The dog is a rather large dog; mostly mutt but has some German shepherd in the mix. When the dog has been off the leash, it has charged at me – three times. The encounters have put me in a fearful mode when I attempt to go outside. I always check to see where the dog is before I venture outside. The past encounters have given me flashbacks to my childhood with other encounters with large dogs. I am not a big fan to say the least. So yes, I am glad this dog is going away. I did a little happy dance when I thought I could at last be at peace in my yard. Not only has this dog been a nemesis for my peace, I have had other neighbors bring dogs home and there’s a chorus of barking dogs whenever I am trying to write or study God’s word. I have started referring to those times as Satan’s tool of distraction. Once I submitted my annoyance to God, the dogs have no longer been an issue during those special times.

As I was contemplating these last three years of doggie distractions, I realized this was the time that Jesus had set aside time for me to begin a new work in me. I was reminded of the study we just finished up in my small group time. We studied the book of Jonah with Priscilla Shirer. She wrote (and spoke) about navigating a life interrupted. God has plans for us. Sometimes we have these “divine interventions” to get us on His plan. Over the last three years, He has been working on my heart and His plan. He wants me to be aligned with the things that He has in mind. It’s not too difficult to figure out that His plan involves people. He wants everyone to know about His love for us; His plan of salvation through Jesus, His Son; and how He wants to use each of us to reach our neighbors. Satan doesn’t want this to happen and will send whatever distractions or obstacles so the work will not be done!

For those of us who follow the commands of Jesus, we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus suggested – I mean – told us to go out into the world and disciple others; to teach them to obey everything He commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). I think we all understand this is what we are to do. But if you are like me, you might not actually do it. The world is too big to conquer. We can’t reach it by ourselves. But my world is a bit smaller. God has placed me beside these neighbors. For the last few years, I have understood this is my world. I was happy the dog was going away, but I should have been sad about the fact that I would not be able to be a light to this neighbor anymore. I should be heartbroken that I will not have the opportunity to tell them about Jesus. The language barrier was always an excuse. Now, the dog won’t bother me, but the thoughts of missed opportunities might.

God’s plan is always about people. Jonah became angry over God’s compassion for the people of Nineveh. There are always obstacles to share the Good News. We need to have the compassion that God has because compassion always leads to action. The barriers will never stand in our way if we understand God’s perspective that everyone is worth the effort because Jesus died for them too. We will be compelled to tell! The opportunities like the dog will be going, going, then gone for good.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

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