By Kenneth D. MacHarg
“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
What do you want to be when you grow up? You know that question, you were asked it when you were a child or teenager and you may have asked if of your own children.
But, there comes a point in life where we no longer want to deal with such questions. For one, we may have already decided. Or, perhaps we think we have.
Or, maybe, we have made that decision several times and still find ourselves drifting with no definitive response and are too embarrassed to admit it.
Or, we think we are too old to deal with it—we are at or almost at retirement age and it is no longer relevant. Go away, don’t ask. Don’t interrupt. Just let me finish off and get on with whatever.
No matter your place on the time line of life, those words about allowing God to interrupt our life can come as a shock, a disappointment, an annoyance, or, they can be a breath of fresh air, a hope of significance, a promise of something more fulfilling. A promise to fit ourselves into God’s will for us (rather than trying to persuade God to fit into our own will).
The Lord comes and interrupts us at the most unexpected times.
- It may be in the midst of completing our education.
- It may be in the middle of establishing our careers or business
- It may be in the middle of raising our children, or paying off our mortgage.
- It may be as we are enjoying the empty nest and grandchildren.
- Or it may come to us in retirement.
Whenever, we must be open to having our lives interrupted by our Lord as he calls us to serve Him in some capacity.
That call can come to any one of us at any time, from childhood to our senior years.
And, no, it is not just for pastors or Bible teachers or doctors. Yes, it is for them, but it is also for
- House parents
- Business people
- Telephone repair people
- Car mechanics
You name it; there are openings in the Lord’s kingdom service for each of these and more.
Each of those I have named, we have seen at work on the mission field.
And, it comes at any age. In his captivating book, Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper speaks about retirement by re-telling two stories:
Story 1: “In April 2000, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon, West Africa. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon. The brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they were both killed instantly.” 1
Story 2: “[Now] Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who ‘took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.’”
The question is then posed, “Which story is more tragic?” Was it a tragedy that Ruby and Laura were killed at age 80 in a car accident? Or was it a tragedy that this other couple spent their lives boating, playing softball, and collecting shells? From the biblical perspective, the second story is tragic and the first story is glorious. Mark 8:35 is indicative of this, “… whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (ESV)
Wherever you are in your life’s span, God is knocking at your door, inviting you, yes you, to follow Him.
Are you willing to allow yourself to be “interrupted by God?”
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