On my walk around the lake, I greeted the hunched, cane wielding man with a hearty “Good morning!” and complimented his dedication to exercise. As I turned the corner and broke into a gentle jog, I heard him cheer me on.
Or that’s what I thought.
A few steps later, I heard a second cheer. My mind slowly registered the unlikelihood of a second cheer and the recognition that it sounded more like an intentionally loud groan. I spun around to see his legs flailing on the pavement.
Assured he was not seriously injured, I kept the gentleman safe and we got to know each other. I stayed until the paramedics carried him off to see his cardiac surgeon. He was 6 weeks post valve replacement!
Calling 911 for a neighbor is a heck of an introduction.
I chuckled as I walked home, certainly not because my new elderly friend fell, but because God’s odd answer to prayer struck me. Beginning last night and into this morning I’d prayed for God to inspire a topic for this Seeds of Scripture post.
With no particular Holy Spirit guidance, I turned to Romans because the devotion I use is studying this letter. I decided to write about Chapter 12, pulled out my favorite resources, and dug into the words renew, conform and transform. Confident in my topic choice, I headed out to exercise.
My interrupted walk for my neighbor-in-need was the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
I felt led to write about this interruption rather than the Romans passage I had chosen without God’s inspiration. With Romans as my topic, I was writing for God, but not with Him.
This brought to mind the Apostle Paul. He was on a crusade to destroy the growing movement of Jesus followers called the Way. But God stopped Paul (also called Saul) in his tracks and sent him in a new direction.
[Saul] went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoner to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Saul was convinced with everything fiber of his being that he served God by destroying the Way. He was on God’s mission! But Saul had missed God entirely by rejecting Jesus. A dramatic STOP was required to get his attention so God knocked Saul off his horse and blinded him.
God interrupted Saul’s mission and redirected him to become the great evangelist and church builder, the Apostle Paul.
Let’s learn from Paul’s example before God drops us in the dirt and leaves us blind. As such, I’ve learned to hold my schedule loosely, alert for God’s interruptions.
After a Bible study discussion years ago, I intentionally welcomed unexpected encounters, unhurried conversations, and detours to my plans. Once I became available for God’s interruptions, He sent them. Or was it just that I hadn’t noticed and paused before?
I discovered God’s guiding hand in these moments and labeled them God-incidences. They were divinely appointed opportunities for growth and connection.
Some people needed encouragement or comfort. Others needed a sincere “How are you?” and a fully attentive ear. Some needed to be seen and to receive a warm smile. Sometimes the person I encountered had exactly what I needed – advice, resources, or a hug.
What if we’re too focused on accomplishing life that we miss important opportunities for relationship?
Like Paul, are we so intent on serving God our way that we can’t see Him?
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
What if we:
- Loosen the ties to our schedules so as to allow for God’s interruptions?
- Shift our strict focus from accomplishing a task to meet the eyes of the people we encounter along the way?
- Replace annoyance over delays with extra alertness for opportunity?
- Perceive detours as possible redirects?
Please share in the comments how you respond to a change of plans?
How have you seen God’s hand in the interruption?
And if you’re inspired by God-incidences, I’ve shared many going all the way back to 2015, 2016 and 2017. Use the search tool for “God-incidence” on my website to find other posts. They can also be found by clicking The Visible God button.
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