Yesterday I was downstairs changing the ballast on a fluorescent light when I realized I needed something out of my tool bag. So, I started rummaging around in the bag to get what I needed when I cut my left thumb on an exposed blade. The cut was deep and serious enough to where Jane had to drive me to the emergency room. We left the house around noon and did not get back until after one. A pretty quick visit as hospital visits go, but the unexpected ER trip blew a hole in my agenda for that day. It wasn’t all bad. While we were at the ER Jane got to talk to the nurses and the doctor who treated me. When it came out that Jane was a former ER nurse, each nurse in their turn asked if she wanted to work at their hospital. Jane had to turn them down because her health issues keep her from being able to work as a full or part-time nurse. That was not the end of the conversation, however. When it came time for me to check out, the nurse (Karen) who handled my check out said to Jane that there was an online position that might be ideal for her. So, Karen gave Jane her name and number as well as the number of another nurse who helped run the online service. It’s something akin to Ask-A-Nurse where patients can call in and ask medical questions. Karen said to Jane: “I think this would be perfect for you because you’re so personable.” So, as unexpected as the ER visit was, it turned into a possible part-time job lead for Jane that she could do from home around her own schedule. More importantly, it gave her two very good contacts and in the job-hunting game, knowing people is key. (Please be praying about this opportunity.)
On the way home, Jane asked: “I wonder if God allowed you to cut your finger so that I could meet those nurses?” I had to agree. Of course, me cutting my thumb (and getting four stitches) was just carelessness on my part. I should have safely secured that tool and worn gloves, but it shows that even the thoughtless and careless actions of others are in the hands of a loving and sovereign God. That goes for the interruptions that come our way as well. As far as God is concerned, there are no interruptions, only divine appointments.
In the book of Acts, chapter 16, Luke records two instances where Paul and Silas were prevented from going to certain regions. Once was when they tried to go into Asia where they “were forbidden of the Holy Ghost” (verse 6) and again when they tried to go to Bithynia, “but the Spirit [allowed] them not” (verse 7). These were clear interruptions to their plans. Were they in disobedience to God’s will? No. They were fulfilling the Great Commission. God just had other plans for them. The detours they encountered landed them in Troas where they spent the night:
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. (Acts 16:9)
In obedience to that calling, the missionaries Paul and Silas went “to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia” (verse 12). While there, they met a woman named Lydia who was a “seller of purple.” That meant she made material using a very expensive purple dye that was highly coveted by the well-to-do. That also meant that this Lydia was wealthy and influential. She was also someone seeking the Savior and Paul and Silas had the privilege of leading her to the Lord (verse 15). It was also in Philippi that Paul and Silas were able to lead the Philippian jailor and his family to Christ. From these two key contacts, God was able to establish the church at Philippi, a church that turned out to be a strong work in the region and that was used of God to lead many to Christ. All this from a detour.
God puts detours into our lives all the time. Things happen to us that we didn’t plan, and we can’t control. We see them as interruptions: A student comes to our office with a need that is more spiritual than academic, an injury takes us to the ER, a problem with the car sends us to the mechanic. These are all interruptions if we are looking at them from our own perspective, but as believers who are children of God, there are no interruptions, only divine appointments.
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