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Life’s Interruptions

Several events arrested my attention recently and made me think about the fact that our plans and expectations often are interrupted, altered by reality. You no doubt remember what Robert Burns said in his poem “To a Mouse”: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley.”

The first event occurred last Thursday afternoon as I was putting the final touches on my blog posting, which was to appear the next morning. Before I could post it, I suddenly had no internet service. The Friday blog post didn’t happen. (Did you miss it?)

It’s not too uncommon in our area for us to lose that connection for a few minutes, but this outage was unusual, lasting until the technician came and fixed the problem (a broken underground cable) Sunday afternoon. It made me realize just how dependent I have become on the internet for information, work, communication, etc. Suddenly, it seemed, everything I needed required the internet. Combined with the ongoing closure of the library’s archives room, my research and writing for the current project ground to a halt. I found myself growing anxious that I might miss an important e-mail from someone, my publisher, editors of magazines, friends, family, enemies!

Then there was the series of hospitalizations of several church friends. One went in for a “routine” heart catheterization and ended up having to have triple by-pass surgery. Another developed a fever and was admitted with a serious infection. Still another, a seemingly healthy man, taught our Sunday school class on Sunday and then found himself in the hospital with a stroke on Monday. As the mountaineers’ adage says, things happen in threes. And how those friends’ plans were interrupted!

And then a cousin passed away unexpectedly. She had been hospitalized after a bad car wreck. Broken ankles, broken wrists, broken ribs. But she seemed to be recovering and had been moved from ICU to a regular room and then to a rehab center. Then she developed complications. One day, her family sent out good news of recovery progress. The next morning, she was gone!

As finite human beings, we don’t understand such interruptions to our life plans, whether those are daily or long term. We must simply believe in faith that a sovereign God knows best and trust His plans for us. The Bible says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psa. 37:23). Implied in that statement is the truth that He also orders the stops (interruptions) in our lives. After all, “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28). Even death.

Only this morning, I read these words from Psalm 116:15 (Amplified Bible): “Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

Man plans. Some men scheme, laying plans for nefarious reasons. Others plan for good purposes. God can use both to accomplish His plans, and His plans always take priority over man’s. The psalmist said, “It is better to trust . . . in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psa. 118:8), even ourselves.

Sometimes our writing plans get interrupted, too. It could be something as simple as a frayed internet cable that disrupts our research. Or our publisher goes bottoms up. Or an editor goes back on a promise to print an article and offers us no kill fee. Or a nearby dam breaks, flooding the community (as recently happened in Midland, Michigan, where our daughter lives). Or a family emergency arises. Or we get sick. Or. . . . The list of possibilities is endless.

Whenever and however God interrupts our plans and schedules, we must look for His better plan. When the interruption is a foreboding thunderhead, we must look for the silver lining and, later, the rainbow. He sends interruptions for a purpose. We must find it and adjust our plans accordingly. And then, after we’ve dealt with the interruptions, we must, as the title of my brother’s book says, “Leave a well in the valley” for the benefit of others who may later experience similar interruptions.

What interruptions are you experiencing in your life? How are you dealing with them?

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