Philippians 2:13 – For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (NIV 2011)
Have you noticed that disruptions stick in your mind more easily than everyday, ordinary things? I have. Maybe that's why God often uses them as growth points in our lives, to change us. I began thinking about this recently while pondering over a wee disruption that happened several years ago. Here's the story:
Early one Sunday morning, I was standing at the lectern in a quiet sanctuary, reviewing a script. Was it an announcement? A sermon? I forget. I remember only the disruption which interrupted my thoughts. It was the sound of squeaky chirps nearby – quiet, yet persistent. I looked around to find the source. There it was: a bat lying on the floor. The bat looked up at me with big, pleading eyes, as if to say, "Please help me!" I realized that this was the bat which had flown in the day before as wedding guests arrived. It had horrified them by buzzing over their heads; and then, thankfully, it had disappeared during the ceremony.
The bat reappeared that Sunday morning. By now, it was weak, perhaps thirsty, perhaps dying. I felt pity. I could not ignore it. I was forced to stop what I was doing and deal with this creature. I remember slipping it onto cardboard, taking it outside, and gently setting it on the lawn. I remember thinking that it would probably be eaten by a cat.
It's funny how, years later, I still remember all those details. But I have long since forgotten everything else that happened in church that day. Nothing else stuck in my mind. Yet, for years, I've looked down on worshippers who took away merely trite things from a service. I assumed that mature Christians would take away, above all, the grand spiritual lessons. I was not aware of that attitude until recently, when I considered how the bat episode stuck in my own mind. That discovery has become God's opportunity for me to grow in graciousness towards others and myself, helping me to see others in a more merciful light. But more, it stirred me to see that even small disruptions can be effective tools for God's purposes, even many years later, as He did for me.
Disruptions are those unexpected circumstances which jerk us from the ordinary stream of life. They are often inconvenient, disturbing, and at times, painful. We don't much like these squeaky attention grabbers. To us, they are distractions because they stop us in our tracks. We cannot carry on as usual. Maybe that's why we remember them so well. We find ourselves mulling them over — even recalling them years later.
God uses life's disruptions to awaken us to new realities. We may have heard a spiritual concept repeatedly for years. But it never sank in until we were jolted by a disruption, and we found ourselves pondering over the experience — perhaps much later. Then we "got it"! We were changed in some way — in our thinking and our acting. God was at work, shaping us for His good purposes. Let us not belittle life's many disruptions!
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to see valuable lessons in our disruptions. May we learn to accept them as means of being conformed to Your purposes. Amen.
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