Interruptions or Adventures?

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“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
― G.K. Chesterton―


Recently, I stumbled across a Youtube video of well-known Christian comedian Mark Lowry. I haven’t heard much of his comedy before. In fact, I don’t think I even finished the video clip.

 The only reason I mention him now is that the idea for this post came from him. On this video, he began talking about the things that we perceive as important, compared to God’s perspective. As we look at this idea together today, I just wanted you to know where I got the foundational theme for today’s post, as well as several of the Scriptural examples. While I’m not much of a Mark Lowry fan, I think there is quite a bit of truth in this particular observation.


Interruptions. Yuck.

They’re everywhere, aren’t they?

Those people that pull out their cars in front of you like they’re racing to a fire, and then slow down to about 15 miles per hour (in a no-passing zone, generally). The impossibly-long lines at Walmart on Saturdays. The phone ringing when you were about to get to that one thing you’ve been wanting to do all day. The person who just won’t stop talking to you when you really need to be somewhere else.

Yeah, those. Interruptions.

Funny thing is, Jesus seemed to deal with interruptions differently than we do.

In fact, as Mr. Lowry pointed out, it seems like more interruptions made it into the Bible than planned events did (or at least humanly-planned ones)!

Jesus sails across the Sea of Galilee with his disciples, needing a break.

Interruption. In the form of over 5,000 people (Matthew 14:13).

Jesus heads for the house of Jairus the synagogue ruler–and a woman crawls out to brush her fingers against the hem of his robe (Mark 5:21). Interruption. Incidentally, the gospel writer records as much about the newly-healed woman’s interruption as he writes about the miracle of Jairus’ resurrected daughter.

It’s almost as if God knows how preoccupied we get and arranged His book with subtle reminders that we don’t have it all figured out.

I’ve had plenty of interruptions in my life. How about you?

I’ll get things all squared away and nicely organized…and then life stampedes through and tramples my best-laid plans. But…funny thing…in the end, I’m usually glad. I don’t always get to see the whole picture, but every once in a while, God lets me see a peek of what He’s been up to in the things that I call roadblocks, interruptions, or inconveniences.

I want to look at interruptions differently. Instead of bewailing the changed plans, I want to see something else: people in need of a surprising, spontaneous dose of love.

I want to be like Jesus.

He was teaching in a house when suddenly the thatch was snatched back and the plaster crumbled, and a cripple dropped down from the sky. Lowered by four audacious friends. Interruptors of Jesus’ sermon (Mark 2:1-12).

Interestingly — as the comedian’s video pointed out — the Bible doesn’t even bother telling us what Jesus was preaching about. Instead, we get an up-close view of the interruption.

I think God likes interruptions, actually. I think He likes to shake up our lives a little — not in a petty or vindictive way at all, but in a fatherly, teaching-moment sort of way.

Interruptions are moments that God reaches down and reminds us that we aren’t in control after all — He is.

Interruptions are God’s gentle — or sometimes not-so-gentle — way of realigning our priorities with His.

Take the night that the outcast woman slipped into Simon the Pharisee’s feast. She started crying all over Jesus’ feet, dumping a fortune’s worth of perfume on them, and mopping up the pungent puddle with her unloosed hair. (Luke 7:36-50). Talk about an interruption!

Simon was horrified — this sinful woman was in his house! And she had the audacity to sob at his table, badger his dinner guest, and smell up the whole room with her fragrant gift. Interruption indeed!

But Jesus? He commended her, looked on her with love. She was no interruption to Him. She was no accident. She was a Divine appointment.

For Jesus, interruptions were no surprise. He’s God, after all. These events — seemingly random interruptions — were on His day planner all along.

So how do we — since we can’t see into the future (much less control it!) — act like Jesus when it comes to these moments that take our lives by storm?

Since we’re not in control of those “interruption” moments, but we know that God is…why not see them differently?

Instead of grumbling and getting bent out of shape when things don’t follow my day planner, I can beg for the grace (and the desire!) to stop and breathe, to really, truly SEE people and opportunities.

So…next surprise schedule change, next out-of-the-blue flat tire, next interminable line at the grocery store, I pray that my attitude will be less me-centered and more Christ-centered.

Forget my boring little plans.

Tomorrow is packed with adventures planned out by my all-wise Father.

So what do you choose, by God’s grace? Inconvenience or adventure?

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Wind, Light, and Forest Footholds

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“The steps of faith fall on the seeming void, but find the rock beneath.”

– John Greenleaf Whittier –

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One thing is certain as I get older. Uncertainty. That ever-constant wind.

Sometimes that wind is warm and robust with adventure.

Sometimes it makes me afraid. Its fingers are cold and its face is wet and its chill wraps around and leaves me shivering.

Years ago, I set out on a path, led there by a Guide, the only One who knows–who is–the Way. Staying in that right way is hard; migrating off the course seems to come as naturally to me as to the dark, overhead arrows of south-veering geese.

Faith is a lesson that has come to me in these places, hunted me down, like Heaven’s Hound.

Faith has trailed me and found me in the dark, in the strange, lonely places where my feet slide in the path-edge crumbling. Many a weary time, I’ve looked down at the winding little trail, only shadows painting the ground beyond my current footholds. It’s true, those words–it seems there is “just enough light for the step I’m on.”

And for that one, I still have to squint.

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead Thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home – Lead Thou me on! Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene, – one step enough for me.

– John Henry Newman –

For some reason, in a journey’s thin light, my memory fades. If I were honest–if I were conscious–of all the places my Guide has brought me through before, maybe that next trembling footstep wouldn’t take so much out of me. If the way behind me wasn’t all fog and more shadows–shadows of dim remembrance–I might be able to hold a little bit less of my breath for the plunge forward into the unlit places.

So it is, that when I am hesitating here on the precipice from known to unknown–and I am here at this place, a thousand times today and yesterday and tomorrow–so it is that my Guide is all I have to go on. My Guide, and feeble rememberings, and grace that brings just enough light.

“All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
….For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

– Fanny Crosby, emphasis mine –

Sisters, all of us have forests with dark paths that wind into the distance. In my forest, I often travel alone–at least, alone with my Guide. But really, we are all together in this forest deep, threading through dim footpaths that intersect and mingle for a way and sometimes merge to go on the rest of the way together. We all have forest places where grace is our only light and faith our only foothold.

Let us look up, see the stars over the dark woods.

Light pinpricks, shapes of a thousand things to point us on and give us hope.

The adventure-wind whispers in the pines and dances in the oaks and shivers through the beeches and perches on my shoulder, trickling, tickling with its soft-breathed words. “The Guide who made these stars knows their names, each one. The Guide who grew this forest traced with His finger these meandering trails. The One who set your feet on this path counts the number of the strands of your hair shivering and streaming and shimmering in my breath. This Guide smiles on this direction you travel and braces your steps on the rocks with His own trail-worn hands and has promised to take you safely through this wood.”

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…be glory….”

– Jude 1:24, NASB –

So it is that I am still stepping, my friends. I am still living an adventure here in this forest often dark, this forest called life. Sometimes the sunrise floods the silvered branches with light and I see the remembered shapes of what my Jesus has done and all it is that He has promised to do. I still close my eyes into the stiff, bright chill of the adventure-wind, smiling and hoping and praying.

This place, right here, is where I live.

Putting one step out in faith, waiting for the next glowing illumination of grace (2 Cor. 12:9). Jesus has never failed me, you know. He does all things well.

Even for this straying daughter who can’t seem to remember her way home.

Won’t you step out too?

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“Nothing does so establish the mind amidst the rollings and turbulences of present things, as to look above them and beyond them – above them, to the steady and good hand by which they are ruled, and beyond them, to the sweet and beautiful end to which, by that hand, they will be brought.”

– Jeremy Taylor –

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A big thank-you to John Luty at Public Domain Pictures for this lovely photo!

Charting Paths and Planting Trees

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“To be born is to be exposed to delights and miseries greater than imagination could have anticipated; that the choice of ways at any cross-road may be more important than we think; and that short cuts may lead us to very nasty places.”

– C.S. Lewis, emphasis mine –

You could say that I was raised to be a gardener, to plant little round specks of seeds that would grow comfortable and familiar in my dusty palm before I really understood. Young as I was, I didn’t know enough to wonder what they would sprout up to become.

With equal truth, you could say that I was born to chart paths. Taught to read enough signposts, though, a girl can become numb to the meaning of the places etched on the wood. Adventurous lands erode into formless names. What was meant to thrill can fade into the rut of habit.

True– to be born in a place where planting seeds and navigating cross-roads is commonplace, must be a privilege. I’m conscious of the voices, the onlookers that wish that they’d been born in my place. Yet I still find the sacred ebbing into merely commonplace.

I, born to a call, wake up one day to find that “There” has grown to be a dull place to be.

And I wonder why opening up pages of God-words doesn’t knock me over with glory.

It bothers me that in the morning I can blink open my eyes to the orange-gold sun and not be flooded with speechless wonder.

When the people I meet are…just normal. Something I accept, without an accelerating flutter of my heart.

When my view of family disintegrates into “those people who live here with me.” When dear people’s embraces are expected, usual.

When I accept a day’s pattern with no more excitement than a shrug and a nod.

It’s not that love–life, the glory–is dead. I feel it, deep inside. But muddy, work-hardened fingers have gotten so stiffly mechanical that dropping the seeds into the soil no longer stirs dreams of what will sprout. “This is just what I do. I plant.”

Rattling off the proper turn to make on the journey has become patently logical. “I ought to go this way. It’s the correct way.” Never mind that I used to lie awake nights smiling to myself about the uncharted geography over the next rise. The crinkles in the old maps, the tracks of ridges and beloved valleys and heart-welling childhood glens hidden with faded-ink X’s on old cartographs–these used to quicken my pulse. Imaginings of the sweet, new-land air, the orange-and-spice thrill of mountains and falling waters and trees that stretch on and on to the sun. But now my feet simply go forward. I’ve forgotten how to stop and wonder.

Wake up!

“Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.” – Psalm 57:8

I shake the shoulders of my slumbering soul. “Wake up!” Tears start to my eyes.My skin bristles with a chill. I’m fearing vision eternally fogged with dream-sleep. Oh, that the charted paths would clear of dust and glow gold again. That the seed would slip again through tender hands, smooth of callouses. I ache to see the glory.

Frantic, wild attempts at self-stirring finally spiral into a gliding calm, a prayer to the only Heart-Awakener.

“Return the joy of your salvation to me
and sustain me with a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51:12, CEB –

Sleep fading from long-still muscles leaves a tingling numbness. But I am–so slowly–beginning to see the dawn.

A compass atop a faded map, waiting at the doorstop, beckon. An adventure waits for my feet to follow. A Friend lingers to walk at my side. He’s already pointing the way to the next rise. I can see He’s come this way before.

The Gardener calls and I realize, as if for the first time, what can spring from the seeds He holds out. Tiny in my palm, yet they may be trees.

Deeds, planted–today. Journeys, started in faith–yes, today I can step through the door.

Tucking potential deep into loamy furrows, I close my eyes and He lets me see the glorious things that may be.

At the beginning of my trek, He leads me to a mountain’s crest and I can see, in dawn swirling on low clouds, dim shapes of the wonders that await in the miles ahead.

“Restore to me this joy.” This time the words are full and breathless. He is so marvelously good to call back this life.

Storyteller Andrew Peterson paints it all in bright words, what this planting, this stepping out, is for us:

“We chose the spot, we dug the hole
We laid the maples in the ground to have and hold
As Autumn falls to Winters sleep
We pray that somehow in the Spring
The roots grow deep

And many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn…

…So sit down and write that letter
Sign up and join the fight
Sink in to all that matters
Step out into the light
Let go of all that’s passing
Lift up the least of these
Lean into something lasting
Planting trees…

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless someone”

lyrics from “Planting Trees,” by Andrew Peterson

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“Awake, my soul!
    Awake, harp and lyre!
        I will awaken the dawn

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.”

– Psalm 57:8-11, NIV –

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Thank you, Public Domain Pictures and Larisa Koshkina, for today’s image.