Don’t know about any of you, but I’m a planner type of person. I tend to like to be able to plan at least the day ahead, but preferably my week and better yet, month. And sometimes I get to do just that, and it’s great. But inevitably things change, and situations happen unexpectedly. I went through a time just over a year ago, when I was getting particularly stressed about interruptions to my routine. I’m a very routine led person – maybe comes through age, but whatever the reason I’d found myself extremely locked into a particular routine that I absolutely hated to have changed especially without my consent!! I’m disabled and that particular year was too ill to go out much, so found myself having to occupy myself more at home. I had a couple of days in a week when I did some part-time “work” (unpaid). But because I’m not technically employed, my friends and family tend to think I’m sitting around all day doing nothing. So it would inevitably happen that on any given day when I would have a particularly large batch of typing to do, and struggling to get it done, that one of said friends would phone me to talk. But instead of talking, I’d renege, and tell them I was too busy, and really had to get the typing done, and could they phone me back later. Of course, what then usually happened was that we both forgot to reconnect, and it would be days later perhaps when I’d finally remember to contact them again, only to discover that they really needed to talk that day, and I’d made sure it wasn’t going to be me they did it with!
It incredibly took me quite some time that year though to learn the utterly important and vital lesson the Lord wanted to bring home to me. After quite a few of these occasions, the knowledge of the lesson was so overwhelming He may as well have just spoken it in audible words. The lesson basically was that IF I declared that I was His child, and IF I accepted He was not just my Father, but my Creator and my GOD, and IF I truly wanted to serve Him and honour Him, and IF I was submitting my day to Him (as I do every morning) then I absolutely have to accept that every single thing that happens in my day, good, bad or otherwise, is brought into my path solely by HIM alone! And if that is the case, which it is, then I need to stop grieving Him and continually sinning against Him by saying NO to every interruption into my schedule.
I can’t tell you how incredibly He has changed my life since I recognised that error. Rather than griping and complaining when the phone would ring and it would be perhaps the ONE person I absolutely don’t want to speak to, I praised Him for motivating them to phone me for His purposes, and prayed for wisdom in dealing with the conversation appropriately. The more I did this, the more I discovered people telling me how grateful they were that I was there for them, because they’d nobody else at that point to talk to, or how they were able to see a problem more clearly afterwards.
I can tell you though that it was absolutely nothing to do with me that they felt that way, as many times I did nothing other than answer the phone, and provide some platitudes much of the time, but they gained something from the Lord through me they may not otherwise have got.
I still have times when I do find interruptions irritating to a degree, but am just more sharply aware of His prompting me to listen to what the person is seeking, and allow Him to use me. Given that I’m continually desiring Him to do that, it’s a bit ironic that when He was providing me opportunities, I was basically throwing them back at Him without a second thought.
Like many other Christians who’re disabled or not well in particular, or maybe even those who’re perfectly healthy, I spend a lot of my time feeling somewhat guilty for not doing more for the Kingdom in some practical way. But I’ve just listened to another superb talk by Paul Washer (link sadly no longer available) on this topic, and the Lord really used it to speak to me and enable me to know that there’s a difference between doing work for God, and doing God’s work. If He doesn’t provide an opportunity, all you’re doing is working to satisfy your own desires to be busy, outwardly spiritually active or whatever, and are in danger of veering off into a works based faith if not careful. When God opens doors and wants a job done, it’s a huge difference. You know it and you can walk into with less stress and striving, and ultimately you will see results. When you’re the instigator of the ‘work’, chances are you won’t see much in the way of anything happening, and then you end up discouraged, and less willing to move when He does provide you a genuine opportunity.
So take heart the next time something happens in your day that you neither planned for, nor want to perhaps even deal with – some of the worst situations in life (even death!) can bring about some of the most incredible blessings, and fruit for the Kingdom!! When I lost my husband in 1998, I thought my life had pretty much ended, yet what God has done for me and with me since has been a spiritual rollercoaster of magnanimous proportions. We can just never see things the way He does, to understand the incredible work He is doing in our lives, and He truly knows our fullest potential much more than we ever will.